Andy Buttery is currently working as a Project Manager and Facilities Advisor in Luanda for one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. Here, he tells us about the mobilisation process and what life is like as an international contractor.
For the last decade I have had countless conversations with various people, including friends, colleagues and family members, asking me about the details of being mobilised for work. Most, I have found, are surprised to discover that the process itself isn’t the nightmare they expected – some have even gone on to consider looking for international work after I have explained that the experience isn’t unpleasant at all. In fact, I find being internationally mobilised as a contractor a consistently fulfilling career choice. There can be delays with Visa applications and issuing of work permits which does lead to frustration on the part of the contractor; however, you have to consider this as an ‘occupational hazard’ when working in underdeveloped regions.
Being Recruited by Fircroft
I am currently based in Luanda, the capital of Angola in Southern Africa, working as a Project Manager and Facilities Advisor for one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies. Prior to working as a contractor for Fircroft, I had been positioned in Angola, Nigeria and Dubai. Contracting internationally understandably has its pros and cons, but knowing the process and the unlimited support I receive has made the overall experience very worthwhile, not to mention career enhancing. Towards the end of my previous role, I was contacted by my current employer asking if I was interested in an opportunity that would keep me in Angola; they then set the wheels in motion, and Fircroft approached me (as one of the preferred manpower suppliers), and so began the recruitment process – very straightforward and organised.
Mobilisation: Step by Step
Recruitment and offer: To begin with, I spoke to Mike Graham who explained the recruitment process and what the necessary requirements were to commence mobilisation. When my pay rate had been negotiated and agreed, I received my onboarding email containing my contract and other documents I had to complete and return to them before the rest of the process could be completed.
Visa and flights: Fircroft then arranged my Visa application and flights to Angola which was a very helpful part of the mobilisation process – everything was sent to me via email, including all Visa and flight information, as well as my eticket and details about who to meet on my first day.
Medical: Prior to travelling to Luanda, Fircroft provided me with medical insurance and information I needed regarding vaccinations I required before leaving the UK. These injections included hepatitis, typhoid, yellow fever, polio and rabies. I was also provided with malaria tablets, which I continue to take weekly. In regards to my medical support, Fircroft is consistently helpful, and if my contacts are ever unable to answer my questions I am always pointed in the right direction.
Accommodation and transport: Despite Fircroft also being able to arrange accommodation and in-country transport, my current employer organised this for me as part of my contract. When I arrived, I was met at the airport and shown to my accommodation; despite knowing my way around Luanda, it’s always nice having someone at the airport to greet you and show you where to go!
Life in Luanda
I thoroughly enjoy life here in Angola, both in terms of work and the social life. I currently spend two weeks at home in Cambridgeshire every eight weeks, which took some getting used to at the beginning. My single status contract means my family stay at home whilst I work away, but I am now fully settled and enjoy socialising with the extensive expat network here in the capital. Despite working 7 days a week, I always make time to catch up with my fellow expats at some of the fantastic restaurants and bars here in Luanda.
I would definitely recommend contracting internationally to anyone considering it. Initial hesitations are usually around living and working in unknown territory, but the support for expats is very well structured. In 2012 I visited the doctor here after discovering a lump in my neck which turned out to be a benign tumour. I was shocked, but felt calm and comfortable due to the assistance from Fircroft – flights were swiftly arranged for my return to the UK for the operation, as well as my flights back to Angola when I had recovered. All the help or support I have needed whilst contracting has been constantly available and very well represented; not just in terms of medical aid, but any questions I have regarding payroll, my contract or my Visa have all been answered promptly and in great detail.
What does the future hold?
My contract will be coming to an end soon, unless it is extended which is often a likely possibility. However, Fircroft is aware of my situation and is beginning to help me look for a new role. I am enjoying working in Luanda and would be happy to stay here, yet for me the priority is the role and what I will gain from it. Working as a Project Manager and Facilities Advisor in Angola has been enormously rewarding; the locals employed here are constantly interested in learning and developing their skills. The multicultural community in Luanda is an additional motive to stay here; overall, it’s simply a fantastic place to be.
Hopefully my next role will be another step up in my career. Mobilisation has provided me with the career progression and global knowledge I could never have imagined back when I was working permanently in the UK. I look forward to the future, what my next role will bring and where I will be located – onwards and upwards, quite literally!