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Gareth Aldren – Offshore Wind Asset Manager

Man with short hair wearing white shirt

Gareth, in 2023 you passed the incredible milestone of having worked for the TotalEnergies group for more than half your life! Tell us more about your career journey over the past 22 years.

During my Master’s degree, I completed an internship at the Elf Geoscience Research Centre in London which then led to a position as a Graduate Geophysicist for TotalFinaElf in 2001. I enjoyed that discipline for 10 years and it gave me a great foundation of transferable skills. Half of that time was spent abroad in Pau and Paris. I became fluent in French and I got to travel the world and really experience the global side of the Exploration and Production business.

Following a stint in new business exploration in Paris, I then switched to a commercial role in 2011, back in the UK. I was always quite business minded and wanted to see the challenges we faced from a wider perspective and be involved in decision making. This role later also took me back to our HQ in Paris to work on our Northern Latin America zone.

For the past five years I have been transitioning into the Renewables business through various roles. I had wanted to work in renewables for some time and I now work as an Asset Manager in the UK offshore wind team for one of our offshore wind farms which is in the development phase. This means I’m responsible for overseeing management of TotalEnergies’ investment in the project.

How did you transition from oil and gas into renewables?

This is actually my second major career change, following my move from geophysics to business/commercial. I transitioned first by moving from the Exploration & Production business to the Gas Renewables & Power/Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) business, which allowed me to live and breathe this area, and also work on one of the first LNG-solar-battery development projects in the Company.

I then took the position of Energy Transition Leader, back in the UK in 2021 where I became the focal point for all carbon footprint reduction and energy transition subjects. This position grew as the Company realised the enormous possibilities in energy transition and emission reduction targets, and soon we were able to involve more and more colleagues – almost like a conveyer belt of projects and opportunities. The electrification potential in our North Sea operations and offshore wind developments in the rest of the UK gave me an excellent opportunity to finally move into the Renewables business.

What are some of your career highlights when you look back?

When you’ve been at the Company as I long as I have, there’s certainly a lot to choose from!

I look back on achievements like assisting one of the first 4D seismic campaigns for the Elgin field in the North Sea, predicting with seismic attributes the higher porosity to the west of the West Franklin field (since proved by drilling), and working closely with drilling to understand well casing deformities.

Later during this period, I was asked to take this experience and train young geoscientists in Angola and Indonesia, which whilst initially quite daunting, was massively rewarding.

There’s also the social side such as the TotalEnergies football tournaments. I’ve played for Scotland, Pau and Paris in these tournaments, as well as a tour in Congo for Paris. Most recently, I co-managed the Scottish team.

When I look back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve travelled to five continents, whilst working on projects on six continents (we never had many projects on the seventh, Antarctica!). I’ve worked in and visited the Libyan Sahara Desert, worked on North Sea platforms, visited fabrication yards, set up a subsidiary in French Guyana, worked in the hills of Colombia, visited the heavy oil fields of Venezuela, and travelled for business opportunities in Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia – all whilst taking in and learning from the cultures. And now, most recently, visiting our very own Seagreen, Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many remote destinations ‘off the beaten track’ with TotalEnergies!

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

You have to drive your own career aspirations; don’t always sit and wait for them to come to you, then the hardest part is to convince others that you mean it!

I recommend building a trusted network of like-minded positive colleagues, inside and outside of the company. People who can challenge your way of thinking and viewpoints are even more valuable.

Finally, make every day count. First impressions count but you have to maintain a certain standard every day. Sponsors are important, and they need to be able to say ‘yes’ without hesitation to assist any career move.

What do you think differentiates TotalEnergies as a company to work for?

I think the incredible range of opportunities I’ve mentioned but also the culture, as employees make a company. It’s very rewarding to build diverse virtual teams that solve problems together.

Quite simply, I would not have stayed with the same company for over half my life if I did not enjoy working for TotalEnergies.

And finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

Staying fit and healthy is important so I can continue to enjoy the French Alps with my family in the summer and winter, especially challenging myself alpine skiing, ski touring and downhill mountain biking.

I really enjoy learning new sports and skills, and recently learned to paddle board! I love live music and attending concerts, and (less and less these days!), festivals.

I also volunteer as a children’s grassroots football coach, and assistant Cub Scout leader. Both are very rewarding to watch young people develop and learn new skills.