Adam Viscount - Hibernia Technical Supervisor, ExxonMobil

Adam Viscount

Hibernia Technical Supervisor, ExxonMobil

I was born/grew up in: I was born and grew up in St. John’s, NL

I now live in: St. John’s, NL

I completed my training/education at: BEng (Mechanical), Memorial University of Newfoundland

Describe what you do at work.

In my current role I am responsible for leading and providing direction to the Hibernia engineering team for both day to day and long term priorities.

While every day is different and has its own challenges, I spend a lot of my time working with the members of my team. We discuss daily what they are working on and, if necessary, I will help them with any issues that may arise. Most work days begin with a team meeting between the onshore and offshore workforce. Here we discuss the accomplishments and challenges from the previous day and discuss any the focus areas for the current and future days. We try to be proactive and identify potential issues and have plans for how to address issues if they come up. There is a lot of communication within my team and with other teams. We need to make sure what we are doing lines up with the priorities and needs of the organization.

Since I’m in a supervisory position I don’t do much “nuts and bolts” work that involves analysis or design. But I continuously make use of the engineering concepts and experiences that I have learned and used in previous roles. So, in a round about way, I use a lot of math and physics/chemistry daily in decision making. In order to make decisions about plans and designs others are doing, you have to know the fundamentals.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

Since I’m working in the oil and gas industry, my career has a lot of impact on peoples’ lives. I’m helping my company address the world’s energy needs. The products we produce provide energy to the province, the country, and the world. Locally, our industry is a major driver of this city’s and the province’s economy.

What motivates you in your career?

From technical perspective I love seeing the results of the work that we do. For example, when we are faced with challenge, we as a team come up with a solution to overcome the challenge. It is so rewarding to see the results of our team’s solution being implemented. I am also extremely motivated by working with the members of my team and the entire organization. I love working with this company in a workplace where our people, with different backgrounds and different cultures, work so closely together to provide value to our company and the province.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I never thought I’d be doing this when I was in high school. When I was young, I wanted to be an orthodontist (I had to go to one as a kid and he had a cool office). I liked science and math as well as business (I took an entrepreneurship course that I really liked). My parents are both accountants and I thought I would do that. I went to university and enrolled in a business program but I didn’t like it. I was just not interested in what we were doing.

So I started to rethink my plans. I wanted to do something that would bring science and math together because I liked both of those subjects. I spoke with two of my uncles who were engineers. They told me about how they used math and science in their work. Before this, I didn’t think much about pursuing engineering, however the more I learned about engineering, the more I wanted to become one. So I made the decision to switch from a business degree to engineering. That was a bit scary because it seemed to me that I had wasted a full year (not to mention tuition fees!). And I would be almost two years older than the rest of the people in my program. But from the first semester I knew this was where I wanted to be. 

And this was a time when the oil and gas industry was starting to boom in NL. My B.Eng. program was a co-op program so I had six work terms. Each term was in a slightly different part of the industry. Some were with local companies while another was in Houston, Texas and another was in Scotland (but none with ExxonMobil). This gave me a great overview of the entire oil and gas industry. So, by the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to work in this industry. But I never thought I’d get the chance to work in my home province and in the city that I grew up. I always felt I’d have to go away to get work. I feel very fortunate that I was able to get a job with ExxonMobil and to build a life here.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

Very recently my wife and I had our first child (Emma) so I spend as much time with my wife and daughter as I can. But I’m an avid outdoors person. I enjoy hiking (especially the East Coast Trail), golfing and playing basketball (and many other sports).

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Going back to my decision to change from business to engineering, I’d say not to be afraid of change or of making the wrong decision. Understand that your path is not set and you can make a decision to change at any point in your life.

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