Energy Voices: Boula Rizkallah

Industry Voice Boula Rizkallah
28 May 2024 | Energy Voices, Industry insights, Inspiration
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This is the first post in a brand-new series where we get to know some of our amazing customers and learn what they love about the industry, the challenges they face, and how Reuzer solutions have made a difference to the way they work.

We sat down with Boula Rizkallah, Corporate QHSE Manager at Vantage Drilling, to hear all about how he got started, what a typical day looks like, and that time he got caught up in a earthquake…interested? Read on.

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Tell us a bit about your career journey and how you’ve got to where you are today.

My background is in civil engineering. But I chose to focus on health and safety (HSE) at university. I like that you’re trying to save people’s lives and the impact that your work can have on employees and their families. I had internships with Shell and BP and went on to work with drilling contractors. I started at Vantage as a Safety Training Coordinator, and I’ve been here for five years now.

What is it specifically that got you excited about working in HSE?

It’s the blend of psychology and engineering. Sometimes it’s not enough to tell someone, ‘Don’t put your hand there’. We need to understand why people do the things they do. And by understanding that mindset, we can change behaviour. Yes, in engineering many processes are automated, but we still rely on people to do a lot of the work, so we need to speak to their hearts and minds to ensure our sites are safe.

What does your job entail?

I’m the Corporate QHSE Manager. Essentially, the business hires rigs for operators to drill wells. We manage/operate five rigs, in West Africa and Southeast Asia. In my role, I provide the rigs and the offshore teams with the tools they need to make their work safe and follow up on the use of those tools in terms of compliance – both in terms of industry standards and our own expectations.

There’s no typical day for me – whether I’m supporting operations in different countries, removing roadblocks, or liaising with clients to fulfil their requests. Tomorrow I will be travelling to visit three of our rigs, following an internal audit, which makes sure our systems are running effectively and that they’re simple enough for all of the workforce to implement.

What do you love most about your job?

Every day there’s something different, different challenges to overcome, and it’s very rewarding finding a solution and seeing everything ironed out. I also love the travel as I get to visit lots of different countries. Rigs are moveable things, so we’re always going someplace new. Everywhere has its own charm and a new culture to understand.

You also learn a lot from travelling. Last year I was in Morocco during a major earthquake. I woke up and the building was swaying like a boat. It took me a minute to remember I wasn’t on the rig anymore. It reminded me how important it is to know your room number in a hotel and your escape route – and to always have your passport ready.

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That sounds scary! What are some of the more everyday challenges you face at work?

The big challenges are how to make sure our systems and safety tools are effective yet simple to use. We don’t want to overcomplicate things so only rocket scientists can use them. We need to find a balance.

A great example is Vantage Drilling’s Perfect Day Leadership Programme. It’s all about asking questions, not telling people what they should be doing. When you let people talk, they feel in control and they are choosing to do the right things. And that way you also bridge the gaps between different cultures and languages.

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How else do you work to address these challenges and keep people safe?

Mistakes happen, but it’s important we learn from them. Visualising those incidents through animation, like the ones we’ve created with Reuzer, allows people to see them happening. It helps change their mindset so they don’t take that same action in future.

This goes back to talking to people’s hearts and minds. We used to share HSE alerts in PDFs or on a slide deck. But animating those incidents with simple, engaging videos that hold people’s attention is so much more effective to understand what happened and capture the lessons learned.

We’re also using the Reuzer Platform to share our training, so everything is all in one place. This makes it much easier for people to complete the training they need to work safely. The platform is always improving, which is great for us, and the Reuzer team are always willing to accommodate our requests or suggest smarter alternatives.

And finally, why is the work you do so important to Vantage Drilling?

Because our people are our most important asset and their safety is our utmost priority, and this is the best way we can protect them. Yes, we’re complying with industry standards – we have to have a QHSE department – but we go out of our way to meet these regulations with a human touch, continuously improving the way things are done to keep everyone safe.

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