Aberdeen must “show true grit” in the face of a tough economy, “think big” and take ownership of its own future, according to one of the city’s top industry bosses.
If the Granite City does all this and makes the best use of its wealth of expertise, forged through decades of oil and gas, as well as its past fishing industry heritage, it can become a world leader for the energy transition, he said.
The pep talk came from Ken Gilmartin, chief executive of engineering and consultancy services giant Wood, at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) Annual Lecture at P&J Live.
His stirring speech came just over six months after he arrived in Aberdeen to take the helm at Wood.
Mr Gilmartin told guests there were plenty of reasons to be confident about prospects for his adopted home city and the wider north-east.
“There are nearly 450 ambassadors for the region and its economy here in this room tonight,” Wood’s boss said.
He added: “This is one of the foremost communities of energy professionals in the world. We can and should be very optimistic about the future.”
Energy transition can be a “bright new dawn” for the area, making use of well-established international connections and skills suited to delivering net-zero, he said.
The pep talk was exactly what the audience wanted to hear amid gloomy times for the UK economy.
SCDI’s guests quickly realised Wood’s new boss is far removed from the boring, corporate-speaking types big companies often hire to fill senior management roles.
The charismatic Irishman and avid supporter of Sligo Rovers delivered the kind of inspiration Darvel’s manager showed in bucket-loads before his non-league side ousted Premier League Aberdeen FC from the Scottish Cup.
Passing on his match-winning strategy for the Granite City as it moves away from its dependency on oil and gas, Mr Gilmartin said: “Aberdeen has made a global impact. Its technical insight and leadership comes from its people and that is one thing that’s never going to change.”
SCDI chief executive Sara Thiam said: “Ken’s speech held a mirror up to the north-east’s energy industry and its value, not just to the UK but to the world.
“His insights and call to action on the need for passion, ownership and momentum landed with leaders across the public and private sector who share an ambition for growth and prosperity.”