20/09/2013 - 14:28

Smart thinking brings solutions

20/09/2013 - 14:28

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Smart thinking brings solutions
EXPANSION: Matt Lamont and the team DownUnder GeoSolutions recently opened a fifth international office, in London. Photo: Attila Csaszar

In an industry not typically associated with ‘doctors’, one Perth-based oil and gas services company has stacked its ranks with PhD holders in physics and maths, geophysicists, petrophysicists and IT experts.

It has proved a smart recruitment strategy for geosciences services provider DownUnder GeoSolutions, which like many other local companies has faced staff shortages in Perth as it sought to do business in a global market.

To make the most of its resources when it opened its fifth international office this year, in London, it searched for the most advantageous location possible.

The company, founded by geophysicists Matthew Lamont and Troy Thompson, mapped the office locations of potential clients and competitors in London using bubbles they added to Google maps.

“All the oil companies were very central,” Mr Lamont said.

“We did the same map for our competitors, and they were all way, way outside (the city centre). So we decided we’d like to get close to our clients so they can just walk to our office and we can develop strong relationships with them.

“So we put ourselves right in the middle, we’re on Piccadilly opposite the Ritz, which is an amazing address and that’s been fantastic. The clients love it, there’s nobody else, they’re all miles and miles away.” Since opening earlier this year, DownUnder GeoSolutions’ London office has grown from half an office floor to two floors and shown no signs of slowing.

“London is a monster success for us; we’ve quadrupled the office there in seven months,” Mr Lamont told Business News.

Mr Lamont, who holds a PhD in geophysics from Curtin University and previously worked for Woodside and BHP Billiton, and Mr Thompson, who received his PhD also from Curtin in “automated prestack event picking”, founded the company 10 years ago.

They have grown their business by focusing on hiring the most knowledgeable staff who fit their culture and who can build relationships with clients.

From a single office, in Perth, the company now has 170 staff in offices in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Brisbane, Singapore, Houston, and London, working in software sales, software support, research and development, project management and geosciences services.

The business started out developing its own software, which it used to provide geosciences services, but soon realised there was a market for selling software directly to clients, which now makes up 20 per cent of its business.

Mr Lamont said GeoSolutions’ software was newer than its competitors, more intuitive and easier to use.

It had also taken advantage of analysing “prestack data”, he said, which allowed companies to look at earlier data in a way not previously possible.

Traditional geological software costs from $60,000 to $250,000 upfront with 20 per cent of this charged per annum for maintenance and support.

“With ours we do an annual lease starting at just $3,000 a year, but the typical bundle for an oil company is probably $7,000-10,000 a year,” Mr Lamont said.

Initially it was thought mostly smaller companies would be attracted by the lower-cost software, but Mr Lamont said he was surprised at the open-mindedness of larger companies as well.

“We thought the smaller oil companies with tighter budgets would be more inclined to buy our software and that was why we went for that pricing point,” he said.

“In practise it didn’t really work out like that. Apache is our biggest user of our software and they’re a big independent company.”

The unlisted GeoSolutions is now forming a strategy to facilitate share trading among its growing number of private investors.

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