Jeremiah O'Connor, GSS Coordinator, Kentz

22 Jun 2023, 13:18

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Degree BSc Hons degree in Construction Management & Engineering (Waterford Institute of Technology)
Job title GSS Coordinator
Employer Kentz (current) Sepam (2013)

In 2013 I was based on the east coast of Saudi Arabia. My project title was as Global Strategic Services (GSS) Coordinator. We were responsible for supporting the global strategic services of our company, which specialises in installations throughout many industries within the Middle East. My duties varied greatly from payroll & billing to business development, recruitment and contract negotiations. The main appeal for me was to get exposure to the industry and country as I intended to emigrate once my studies were complete.

The environment

Maaden aluminium smelter is 90 kilometres north of Jubail, on its completion it will be the largest fully integrated aluminium smelter in the world. We were located in a very isolated desert region. Living conditions are similar to a camp, dining halls, exercise rooms, and an en-suite bedroom. The work force is made up of many different languages, religions and nationalities, which all
need to be considered.

The routine

My daily routine could vary greatly. As one can imagine, the isolation and challenging work environment is not suited to everyone. Our workforce consisted of approximately 100 employees, each worker requires many different services; such as visa renewal, travel coordinating, salary revision, contract renewal etc. We would also support our in-country team, helping them with their requirements.

Challenges and benefits

There were many challenges, such as intense heat, sand storms, boredom, lack of amenities and difficulty in communicating. In my view the creation of a strong, successful site team is paramount to the transition of new employees. We were scheduled to work 6 days a week, 10 hrs a day, which could be extended due to on site developments.
I really enjoyed many aspects of the job, from contract negotiation to recruitment and business development. The most challenging time was when I first began managing a team after only being in country for a short period. However this was also one of the most rewarding periods. But, living on compounds with your employee base can be very difficult, as you can find issues can develop at any time.


Be realistic and understand the challenges of working in different countries, especially with so many different nationalities. I would advise students to speak with people who have experience and if possible with the company they hope to join. Keep electronic copies of passports, visas and other important documents and store them on a cloud forum. Once one has done their homework I would say go for it, hard as it may be, I truly enjoyed the experience and challenges. And to be honest, working and travelling abroad gives me a great buzz, one which I continue to chase.

Jeremiah O'Connor was interviewed for the gradireland Engineering sector guide 2015

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