Gordon Ballard, Chairman of Schlumberger UK and Vice President of Industry Affairs, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration (Hon DBA) at Robert Gordon University's graduation ceremony on Monday 8 December at 2.30pm at the Aberdeen Music Hall.
Raised and educated in Glasgow, Gordon went to Glasgow High School and then to the University of Glasgow, where he obtained an Honours degree in Civil Engineering. Determined to specialise in oil and gas, after his first degree, he entered Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. This decision would have a major impact on his life – not only did he graduate with a Masters of Engineering in Petroleum Engineering, but one of his lecturers, Professor George Stewart, opened the way to a career with Schlumberger.
Gordon joined Schlumberger in 1981. Following in the footsteps of the company founders, Conrad and Marcel Schlumberger, who developed the techniques for geophysical surveys, he first took up a position as a wireline engineer. During his early years with Schlumberger, he worked throughout Africa including postings in Angola, Mauritania, Libya, Niger and Tunisia.
In 1990 Gordon returned to Scotland and was based out of Aberdeen for the next three years before relocating again, this time to South America, where he was promoted into a business development role as Wireline Testing Marketing Manager working primarily with national oil companies.
Within a few years, Gordon was back in Europe, mainly working out of Aberdeen again as Marketing Manager across Europe, Russia and the Caspian and further strengthening his business credentials in strategic positioning and contracting strategies.
By 1998 he was Worldwide Marketing Manager for Schlumberger Wireline and moved to Paris, continuing his involvement in global contracting strategies, developing acquisition and joint-venture strategies and initiating technology partnerships within the industry. He subsequently worked on the initial development of Schlumberger Business Consulting before moving in 2002 to become Director of Global Accounts for Schlumberger in London.
Gordon took up his current position as Chairman of Schlumberger UK in September 2005 and became Vice President of Industry Affairs in 2013. In all, Gordon has spent half of his career working out of Aberdeen and, as a manager and director responsible for strategy, has helped make and sustain Schlumberger as the largest oilfield service company in the world.
Gordon is passionate in his support for his industry and numerous achievements testify to his aptitude for strategy and leadership in the oil and gas sector. Over the last ten years he has assumed leadership roles within Step Change for Safety, Opito International and Oil and Gas UK, including serving on the UK Oil and Gas industry council and on PILOT.
As far as the future is concerned, Gordon firmly believes in innovation. Schlumberger is a leading oil-field service technology company and has a history littered with many World firsts. He is continuing this legacy by working to transform the UK supply-chain and taking innovation from other industries and applying these to oil and gas. Examples of this learning can be seen in Schlumberger UK's strategy. They are absorbing world-class manufacturing approaches from the aerospace and automotive industries, introducing standardisation into asset design, and helping pass on knowledge from offshore oil and gas to onshore.