So, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at AIS do Brasil.
[JV] I´m João Volpato, General Manager for AIS Latin America and the first employee of AIS in Brazil (10 years now!). I´m married and have one daughter and one stepdaughter. I live in a place called Jaguariúna in the state of Sao Paulo, where the AIB office is also located.
As a GM, I´m responsible for the overall business from sales to production, from ContraFlex® to Subsea products. We are now a team of nearly 75 employees in this country, which is exciting and shows just how far we have come.
AIS do Brasil has grown significantly over 10 years, what do you put this down to?
I think it´s a combination of working with highly motivated people who work hard to make the business successful, having innovative products and understanding the market.
I used to say that, even though we are a British company in Brazil, we were able to make AIS in Brazil a truly Brazilian company. It is managed by Brazilians, operating in Brazil for Brazilian companies. In my view, that is key to our success.
How have you supported the wider group's aspirations?
I think AIB has been a “guinea pig” for the group. 10 years ago, I was the first, and only non-British GM at AIS.
We were the first ones to have a full site application/management team composed only of Brazilians. Our project team manages all projects in Brazil, including subsea application, which is traditionally managed by and from the UK.
What has been the biggest challenge?
For me, AIS has a unique working culture. What I mean is that the company encourages you to bring new ideas to the table. In a way, it´s very peculiar to certain parts of the business. There are boundaries but also plenty of space for you to develop your ideas.
If you understand that, you will fly and grow within the business. That sounds exciting, but the flip side is that you are at the front line, and you'll need to be brave to make the right decisions and prepare yourself for failure sometimes. That´s something which many of us are not ready for, and therefore it can be challenging.
Do you have a favourite project that AIS do Brasil has worked on?
All projects have their challenges, but for me, our largest project so far was the one in which we have learned the most as a company in Brazil. I was involved in many aspects, from organizing the proposal to receiving the PO from the client, working as project manager (the Brazilian part of the scope) and then organising the delivery in Brazil.
An installation buoyancy project, we supplied 292 x 500kg, 3000m installation buoyancy modules. We delivered the project successfully, and it contributed towards our best year in Brazil so far.
What does the future hold for AIS do Brasil?
Well, with the acquisition of Bardot and now CRP, we have a new market to explore locally. This includes the possibility of having a facility to manufacture PU products (bend stiffeners, cable protection, etc).
Our jacket business continues to grow year after year, and we believe there is still room for more growth. Also, our subsea insulation business has just won two orders, the first ones for SURF in Brazil. Now, we have entered a new market locally, which is one of the most promising in the world at the moment.
Our topside business is just scratching the surface. We have just delivered our first order for jet fire deflectors (manufactured locally), and we know there is space for more projects like that.
So, I´d say the 10 first years were challenging but great. At the same time, it is just the beginning. Bring on the next 10 years of growth and challenges!