Under the Surface with...Andrew Jaffrey
Sentinel Subsea’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Andrew Jaffrey, has been preparing for his role for quite some time. He admits that as a child, he was the one to take the vacuum cleaner apart to see how it worked. In other words, he has an innate sense of curiosity – and this has stood him in good stead throughout a career which has been focused upon innovation and a love of building things.
However, it’s about more than being curious. Lots of us will wonder about how things work, but how many of us make a real effort to find out more? Unlike most of us, Andrew is driven to delve into the heart of technology, finding out how it can be improved, or applied in new ways. His desire to find out why we’ve “always done it like that” and how that can be bettered in terms of efficiency, safety and cost is a cornerstone of his work.
Over his career, this ability to find pragmatic solutions to industry issues has resulted in Andrew being a named inventor on 29 granted patents, with several more patents pending. Luckily for Sentinel Subsea, that innovative mind has been focused on our well integrity monitoring technology since the company was established.
When asked what attracted him to Sentinel Subsea’s technology, as it was presented in embryonic form during an entrepreneurship initiative in 2018, Andrew is clear that the idea of a subsea system which did not require active electronics was intriguing, especially given his first-hand experience of reliable subsea power sources as a perennial industry issue.
This instant connection with the concept, together with a team which has gelled brilliantly since day one (some might almost call it fate!), has meant that Andrew describes his work as highly enjoyable:
“Problem solving of this type is great fun, especially when we can see the benefit this technology can bring to the global offshore energy industry.”
Andrew takes a holistic view of our technology and the applications it can have. His natural lateral thinking contributes to what Sentinel Subsea is achieving. He’s got us looking beyond what we already know, casting the net wide when it comes to inspiration – for example considering a biomimetic approach to our technological development. Popularly known as biomimicry, it takes inspiration from nature’s models to solve human problems and this approach is typical of the perspective, knowledge and experience Andrew brings to our technology. Helped by that, it has developed considerably - and beyond what we ever imagined on Day One - to become today’s fully commercialised product range.
Talking of “Day One”, we asked Andrew what it’s been like to be involved in a start-up which was established by a group of strangers and how the company has coped in the face of recent events:
“Sentinel Subsea is a group of very different people, but it works – largely because we are so different. Neil, our CEO, has deliberately built, empowered and led the team to be fit for purpose, which is exactly what good leaders do.
“We each bring skillsets and backgrounds to the company which are complementary. Our collective experience has also given us a resilience to cope with the challenges we’ve faced – not least a global pandemic – and we’ve done so in an entirely pragmatic way.
“I believe that because of the make-up of our team, we’ve benefited from decades of getting things wrong and experiencing highs and lows, giving us an in-built resilience which has allowed us to just “get on with it”. We made a conscious decision to accelerate activity during lockdown; testament I think to our collective experience and ability to roll with the punches.
“My career has spanned over 35 years but instead of slowing down, I’m busier and more motivated than ever to achieve our objectives. The drive for change is really a drive to leave the world in better shape and, other than providing for my family, I can’t think of a more inspiring reason to go to work every day.”