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22 Oct 2020

Humans of Kent: Jason McKeown, Technical Services Manager, Dubai

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Leadership is about getting out of people’s way

Jason, tell us about your role at Kentech and what a typical day looks like for you?

At present I’m the Technical Support Manager for the TMM service line based in the head office in Dubai. My role can vary from day to day depending on the needs of the business. For example, when a tender comes in from a prospective client, I begin reviewing the technical aspects of the particular job, ensuring that we can technically qualify and have the procedures and documentation to suit. I also offer technical guidance to all our Turnaround, Maintenance and Modifications (TMM) projects and give assistance and support to all our service lines.

What has been the career path that has led you to Kentech?

I was very lucky when I was younger, I was given great opportunities to study engineering while also playing football in my home country of Scotland. I began an apprenticeship with an Industrial Refrigeration and HVAC company where I studied Mechanical Engineering, I was fortunate as I was given a fantastic grounding by seasoned and meticulous engineers in all disciplines, from engineering technical evaluation to costing and operational maintenance. I then moved to become an Area Service Manager for a maintenance and construction company covering Scotland & Ireland before venturing to my first overseas job in Iraq, just after the second conflict in 2004 where I oversaw the re-construction within Basra airport.

I returned home to start my own Maintenance and Installation company which I had for just over 6 years and then decided to move overseas again. That’s when joined Kentech in 2012.

And in the 8 years since I joined Kentech, things have changed dramatically. Mainly as I have ben all over the Kentech world, working in locations such as Sakhalin – Kuwait – UAE – Saudi Arabia – Europe – Qatar and Australia.

I started as the HVAC Engineer on the ENL maintenance project in Sakhalin in 2012, and within a year I was asked to take over the HVAC project within QSGTL in Qatar, I stayed in Qatar for nearly 3 years then returned to Sakhalin in 2016 to work on the various maintenance facilities both offshore and onshore, during my second spell in Sakhalin I was seconded into various tender projects across the Kentech groups.
In 2018 I transferred to Kentech Kuwait to work as the construction support manager to assist in the close out of the clean fuels project, while also being utilized for various tender support functions from Australia to the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia.

As of January, of this year I have been working from the head office as the Technical manager within the TMM function line, assisting with Subject Matter Expert (SME) support and technical clarifications on tenders.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Knowing every day is an opportunity to work within a team to achieve a common goal. My footballing experience has fed my passion for team sports and competing and working with a team gives me that same opportunity to compete. I love friendly competition. It is also the notion that every day is a brand-new day to grow. I’m one who loves to beat my own personal goals.

Personal Development – what does it mean to you?

I truly believe personal development can change anything about who you are, where you want to go, and how you will enjoy the ride along the way. Everyone can have the opportunity to move forward and it’s essential to seek out the guidance of those who’ve been there before you, and to listen and employ their advice.

I’m a great believer in this and try and take guidance from every person that I have worked with, even using the personal tragedies or set-backs as motivation to push myself to hopefully future success. I have encountered many people in my career who have invested their time in in knowledge supporting my personal development and every day I look for opportunities that I can do that for others too.

Tell us about your proudest career moment?

It was in fact with Kentech in February of this year. I was attending a Toolbox Talk on the QSGTL HVAC/E&I project in Qatar as part of a visit and I met lots of the original team members from my time I have spent there previously. I was treated like a long lost relative and the reception I received from my colleagues gave me a fantastic boost, especially when those who I had put on various career paths when I was in Qatar came up to me and thanked me for the difference that I have made to their lives and careers.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

When I was managing the QSGTL project in Qatar I was micromanaging to the extreme. On reflection, this was because I felt driven to push everyone to success as it was my first real leadership role within the company so I did not know any different. A colleague and country manager, Ray, sat me down and went through how my approach and efforts needed to be channeled correctly. He will laugh when he reads this, but he said to me ‘Leadership is about influence, guidance and support — not control. Look for ways to do your job and then get out of the way so that your people can do theirs’.

And it’s something that I have kept in the back of my head ever since.

And what advice would you give to younger Engineers, taking their first career steps?

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what are the smaller jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.

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