Meet the MD: Stuart Lawson of AISUS Offshore

Two years on since AISUS Offshore was born, MD Stuart Lawson and his founding partners have far exceeded their initial goals as the company has continued to go from strength-to-strength. He told BQ what it's like at the helm of the Aberdeen firm.

What does your job entail?

As managing director of AISUS Offshore, it’s my job to motivate and support the people who are the driving force behind our success.

My top priority is to ensure we meet our business objectives and continue to adopt the most suitable technologies for every project we undertake, as we explore and move into increasingly challenging markets across the globe.

 

What is it the company does?

Formed in 2013, AISUS develops specialist technology to provide an enhanced range of visual and ultrasonic inspection services to the global oil and gas industry.

Providing tailored solutions delivered by competent inspection engineers, we have rapidly formed relationships with several major operators for the inspection of topside and substructure items on offshore assets.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I think honesty is extremely important, both with clients and your staff. I believe strong relationships are built on honesty and trust, so transparency is key.

The ability to communicate with people and engage with your team is vital, so everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals. I like to lead by example and I still ‘get my hands dirty’ from time to time.

Part of your job as a leader is to manage setbacks, remain calm and confident and maintain team morale. It’s also important to show your commitment and keep your word.

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Learning the skills needed to run a business, in a very short period of time was no mean feat, but I don’t think anyone in business is the finished article – there’s always going to be challenges and lessons to be learned.

Finding the right staff, retaining them, and ensuring they buy into the vision of the business can also be difficult. When I took the jump from a technical role at a large company to run a small business, I knew it would be tough, but I love what I do and I am extremely proud of the business we have built and all that we have achieved so far.    

 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I like to get away and explore the world when I can and never holiday in the same place twice. I am also a keen rugby player, scuba diver and snowboarder.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up near Aberdeen, so I’ve always had a close connection to the oil and gas industry. My dad worked offshore and I was always fascinated by the job he did, which perhaps influenced me on the career path that I took.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace?

People displaying a lack of common courtesy or just being rude. I try to promote a culture that drives and encourages a positive and motivated workforce.

Another pet hate is when people set or commit to unrealistic targets or timescales – it’s better to be up front and honest about what you can deliver and when.

 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I would like to see the company grow by introducing innovative cost effective solutions to meet our client’s inspection needs.

We also aim to expand our presence overseas, with a particular focus on Europe and the Middle East.

I believe our people are the key to our success and to reach our goals we hope to recruit another 20 staff over the next five years.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Expect and accept pitfalls, as no new venture or business is risk free. I believe it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it – if you have a positive outlook, you can turn hard times into opportunities for change.

Listen to your staff and create an environment where they feel empowered to share ideas and feedback, if you invest in your people, they will be invested in your business. Also, never stop learning or challenging yourself.

 

Where did you start your career?

Having completed my degree in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in 2007, I began working as a graduate engineer for iicorr, as it was then known, an oil and gas service company in Aberdeen. 

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

Before setting up AISUS, I worked for Stork Technical Services in Aberdeen. I joined the company in 2007 as a graduate engineer, when it was known as iicorr. I worked offshore completing specialist inspection projects, before stepping into the role of senior engineer in 2009.

Three years later, I moved onto a business development position and after a year in that role, I knew I wanted to branch out and set up my own venture.

In January 2013, four of my colleagues and I decided to take the jump and AISUS was born. Fast-forward a couple of years and we have successfully exceeded all of our key performance indicators and business goals.