From the Valleys – to the North Sea – to the Sahara – and back!
As a progressive and ever-growing organisation, GEV Wind Power have grown considerably since its diversification into the renewable sector in 2010.
With global office locations spanning 4 countries, located at both sides of the Atlantic, GEV Wind Power have succeeded in becoming one of the largest blade ISPs in the world, and have done so by employing highly skilled, and highly experienced field-based professionals.
As the company have grown, GEV Wind Power have established the best in-field talent located across our global divisions, with many of our workforce becoming established team members, and driving the continued expansion of the business.
Chris is an employed Site Manager for GEV Wind Power, having commenced his employment with GEV back in 2017. Chris has been an integral part in the success of many global projects and has progressed within the business and within the wind industry.
Here, Chris shares his story, and experiences, that will hopefully encourage and assist aspiring wind industry professionals.
I’m Chris, from Wales, working primarily as a Site Manager for the UK/EU Operations team at GEV Wind Power.
I’m an outdoor enthusiast outside and inside of work, and have various active hobbies, including surfing and hiking.
I’m a Swansea City season ticket holder (for my sins!) and have followed the ‘Swans’ since the 90’s (giving my age away there), with my first memory being a 2-1 loss to Monaco in the Cup Winners Cup – managed by Arsene Wenger at the time.
How did you first get into the wind industry?
In my later teenage years, I decided to join the RAF, having seen many of my friends join the military, and I wanted a career where I could travel the world, and be successful.
I started as an aircraft surface finisher and completed various vocational qualifications during my time with the RAF.
When I left the RAF, I then went into industrial painting & specialist coating in marine, automotive, and construction in the UK, and later in Australia and New Zealand before moving back to the UK where I embarked on my career in the wind industry.
Upon returning to the UK, I spoke to friends in the wind industry, and I was excited by the career prospects, which ultimately led to me completing my GWO certifications.
Having obtained my required certifications, I started in the wind industry in 2013, on a pre-assembly site in North Wales, completing spot metal painting. My first project lasted 6 months, which led to further onshore scopes, before naturally moving to offshore, rope access, and blade repair scopes.
Between 2013 – 2017, I worked as a contracted technician, before being given the opportunity to become a full-time employee with GEV Wind Power.
During my time with GEV Wind Power, I have completed various roles, inclusive of spot metal painting, blade repair, and various rope access roles, progressing to Shift Manager status in early 2020.
Where have your travels in the wind industry taken you, and where are some of the most interesting places you have worked?
I have worked regularly across the UK and Europe and have also worked in some of the most remote locations in Northern Africa.
I’ve always enjoyed working offshore, and have worked on projects in the Irish, Baltic, and North Sea, working on behalf of some of the largest blade OEM’s.
The varied work I have been involved in has entailed me working a winter campaign in northern Scotland, to the more extreme conditions of working in the Western Sahara Desert in my earlier career.
What has been the most exciting/challenging campaign you’ve completed and why?
The Baltic II campaign in 2020/2021 is my most challenging to date. As a shift manager, supporting the mobilization of 7 teams under COVID restrictions, this was challenging from the word go!
The projects were some of the most challenging scopes I have been involved in and involved myself and my team members living on an SOV for 14 continuous days between rotations, whilst also completing a mandatory 7-day isolation period.
With the 2020 campaign being as challenging as it was, we managed to successfully complete the scope, and were awarded a similar project for 2021, managing to complete ahead of schedule.
The success was enabled by an amazing group of technicians, and back office, who stuck to the task in hand regardless of the challenges they faced!
Why do you like working for GEV Wind Power, and why would you recommend GEV to friends and industry colleagues?
It’s a progressive company, who are moving in the right direction. The opportunities to progress within the wind industry are clear and evident.
GEV Wind Power are building successful teams both in the field, and across the back office, which is clear why we have progressed so much over the last 2-3 years.
Does the wind industry allow you to experience the things you hoped for as a teenager when first embarking on your career?
The wind industry allows you to experience something that you would not usually consider to be your normal 9-5 and gives you the opportunity to travel the world.
The diverse people you get to work with is a real strength of the industry, and the skills and experience you gain from others is not comparable to any other industry.
Hints and tips for those wishing to get into wind
Be patient – you may not achieve your first role in wind straight away having completed your initial certifications. The industry is growing, and more in-field technical specialists will be required as the global demand grows.
First impressions count – your reputation and name is everything within the wind industry, and doing it right, first time, will help you succeed in progressing to more complex scopes.
Be prepared – plans for projects change last minute. With the travelling involved, you may find yourself away from friends and family for a significant amount of time throughout the year, although this is offset by some of the views and backdrops we get to experience!
Finally…Enjoy it – not everyone gets to do what we do! Not everyone gets to experience the industry, and we are fortunate and lucky to get the jobs that we do!