All at sea

Name: John P Butler
Age: 40
Job Title: Business Acquisition Manager - Wood Group Kenny
Home: Aberdeen, Scotland

John Butler

Throughout my career I have always been involved in some aspect of marine engineering. I grew up in a seaside fishing village in Ireland. My father was a commercial diver and during my childhood he told me about sunken treasure, salvage diving on shipwrecks in exotic places and many other stories, including the one about buying a horse in a pub to ride back to port so he did not miss his ship (but that’s a story for another blog…).

After leaving school I studied in Southampton, receiving a Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering. I joined the Merchant Navy where I worked in the engine room of a ship. I travelled to many different countries and met lots of interesting people. Below is the Stolt Emerald, a ship I worked on going into Sydney Harbour.

I left the Merchant Navy and came to Aberdeen to study for a Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Since then I have been involved in the oil and gas industry working in the design and construction of underwater projects. The design of the projects is done in an office on land but large ships are used to install this equipment at sea. A large amount of engineering is done to make sure the installation is carried out safely and efficiently.

John Butler

I now work in a role called business acquisition, which looks at the future of engineering for my company. I have to investigate which technologies and inventions in the future will be used for offshore oil and gas projects. The projects that will be completed when you are an engineer…


So when writing this blog I thought, based on my knowledge and experience, what would I say to my 14 year-old self? At that time there was so much I did not know, where I would go and what I would do. Like everyone I had fears and doubts, studies can be hard and tiring. There are lots of games to play, things to do and programmes to watch on television. So if I could, what would I say to my 14 year-old self as a 38 year-old?

Well here is my Top 5!!

No. 1 Maths is the key - You may not think it now but the mathematics you learn today, you will use throughout your life, even if you do not go into engineering.  There will be guys and girls in your class who are brilliant at maths and “get it” straight away. Do not get frustrated, it will take a bit more effort but the results will be worth it. One day you will be a chartered engineer!

No. 2 Ambition - Dream big, you now live in a small village in Ireland but soon you will go abroad see the world and experience so much. Never stop believing in what you want and you will be surprised at how much you will achieve.

No. 3 Have fun - Do what you enjoy and you will enjoy what you do. Learn about ships, bridges, welding, soldering, resistors, capacitors anything that you enjoy.  But have fun while doing it.

No. 4 Remember everyone is different - To be an engineer you do not have to be a “petrol head”, don’t worry that you do not know the break horse power of the latest supercar… At 38 years old you still don’t, that does not stop you being an engineer…

No. 5 Finally engineering - You do not realise it now, but taking a path in engineering will open up many opportunities and many choices. You will have a career that will be exciting and rewarding, and one that you will not regret…

I have been very fortunate in my job to date. I still enjoy engineering as much as when I started. I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction when I got my first job in the Merchant Navy. Today I still get the same satisfaction. That is why I wanted to write this blog to give you an insight into my career and hopefully inspire some of you to do the same.