Kevin Keable, Managing Director of Oilennium
With 27 years experience in the oil and gas industry, Kevin Keable, 47, is Managing Director of Oilennium. Before founding the company in 2000, he worked in a variety of management roles for oil services companies around the world. Originally from Norfolk, Keable is a member of the Institute of Directors and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Oilennium provides blended learning systems for companies operating in the international O&G industry. Its customised training programmes feature interactive training tools that maximise user retention, and are available in English, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. More than 1,000 people have participated in classroom sessions in Mexico, Singapore, Houston, Brazil, the UK and Dubai, while 20,000 have access to Oilennium’s elearning programmes. Clients include Weatherford International Ltd., OTC Ghana, Perenco, PETANS, and Halliburton, among others.
1. How did the idea for Oilennium come about?Having spent more than 27 years in the oil and gas (O&G) industry, I had firsthand experience of the huge gaps in training available. I saw the constant stream of experienced employees leaving, and taking their knowledge with them. At the same time, elearning was moving into mainstream business as a viable method of delivering training online. It was the perfect time to seize the opportunity to use technology to train and retain knowledge.2. The energy industry is experiencing some fairly radical changes. Can you characterise them?The Big Crew Change is the no.1 issue: experienced people leaving, younger people joining; the passing on of skills is even more vital nowadays. Secondly, we have new areas of exploration in non-traditional O&G areas, which is resulting in an upswing in training needs for emerging regions. The oil price trend will certainly rise over the next 10 years.3. How is the changing face of the energy industry affecting your business?Fortunately, we function in a technologically-developed area. We can adapt and develop very quickly to meet industry demands, anywhere in the world. Many companies are taking advantage of Technology Enhanced Learning. This is all good for our business.4. I understand that your company has been growing strongly despite the recession. How have you managed this feat?We invest in the future. Our products help the industry save money, but increase productivity at the same time. These two aspects are of prime concern to the business community. Training is vital in the O&G industry, but because we can demonstrate cost-saving and enhanced productivity, the industry is working to train its way out of recession. It will be stronger when financial burdens ease. Our main challenge is to recruit and retain good people. So far, we’ve been successful. 5. How do you plan to grow your business in 2010 and beyond?We are actively recruiting for - and training - our in-house team. By recruiting the right people, we are building a modern, experienced and innovative team. This year we are expanding into new energy markets into renewable and consolidating our role in the traditional O&G industry. Plus, we are doing a lot of development in new training areas, especially in 3D simulation.6. Do you have any plans for physical/international expansion?We have found we are more than able to run our business largely online from our new base in Loddon. However, we do not rule out the possibility of having international representatives in the future. More than 50% of our business comes from overseas already. In fact, we only have two local customers!7. What would you identify as your biggest challenges as a business?To remain unique and to keep ahead of the curve. We are developing training for the current market, but we have to keep an eye on the future and avoid investing or growing in the wrong technical direction. We don’t want to buy into the next betamax! 8. What would you highlight as you biggest achievements as a company so far?Rapid growth. Our growth has come about purely from word -of-mouth. We have not undertaken any active sales and marketing of our products.9. What makes the East of England a good base from which to operate your business?There are a few reasons why the area benefits Oilennium. There is the connection with the O&G industry; easy access to skilled personnel through colleges/universities and associated industries; excellent transport links by air, road and rail. As far as the communications network is concerned, we could benefit from a broadband upgrade, but we are not restricted with the current system.10. What has been the secret to your success thus far?Getting the right people onboard. With the right team, ideas, creativity, technical skills, and positive attitude, Oilennium is definitely a “we,” not an “I.”