Matthew Branch didn’t embark on his career with a view to working in the oil and gas recruitment industry. He graduated with a degree in Accounting and Law, but quickly concluded that it wasn’t for him. “I had friends working in recruitment, making a good deal of money whilst enjoying the job” Matt says, “and I thought – if they can do that, I can too.”
Matt secured his first role as a trainee recruitment consultant and soon found that it suited his personality. “It’s all about mixing and matching people to roles” he says, “I found this hugely satisfying.”
Eight years on he was introduced to Petroplan, and considered the benefits of working in the energy industry: “I had some prior exposure to the world of oil and gas via my uncle, who works out in Romania in drilling and exploration. I had a real desire to travel and work in foreign climates and I knew from my uncle’s experience that the oil and gas industry is very global, affording its workers a lot of opportunity to do exactly this.”
After landing the job with Petroplan, Matt quickly found other distinct benefits to working as a specialist oil and gas recruiter: “It’s different to the other forms of recruitment I’ve had exposure to. You’re working to place intelligent people – experts in their field– which keeps things interesting and provides great experience in developing business relationships. You also take a bird’s eye view of an entire project as you’re responsible for sourcing talent at each stage, and feel very much a partner to the client. General recruitment is often much more narrow, you’re replacing roles without needing to understand the client’s operations or aims. The former is far more satisfying.”
Matt saw his desire for travel fulfilled in 2013 when he moved to Petroplan’s Canada office as a senior recruiter. “The role is a little different to what I was doing in the UK; instead of looking after one specific client, I place a wide range of candidates with various companies. I like the more hands-on nature of this work.” Matt’s current role sees him working regularly with major energy companies placing candidates into a host of contrasting positions from senior planners to engineers.
Why Canada? “Canada was always high up my wish list”, states Matt, “Margins on successful placements tend to be higher in this market while living costs are around the same as in London, meaning I have a lot more disposable income. Also, in Canada you’re fishing in an especially small pool of workers due to restrictive labour laws, so the work is much more of a relationship-based, headhunting exercise. This is precisely the work I enjoy as it has more of a personal edge.”
What skills have allowed Matt to get this far? “Tenaciousness”, he explains, “You need a go-getting attitude, and a willingness to persevere. Some weeks you’ll get nowhere, and then a bunch of leads will suddenly come at once. The key is to stay motivated. Given the importance of relationships, a thick skin and flair for diplomacy are also major pluses.”
Matt is now looking to use his newfound earnings to buy a house. And what of his future career? “Above everything else the travel aspect appeals to me”, concludes Matt, “eventually I’ll probably want to see where else my career takes me – South Africa is an attractive option. The great thing about working in oil and gas is that I’ve no doubt such opportunities will come my way.