Posted in Interviews on 14 Sep 2015
We interviewed Stephen Lansdown who we have just helped secure a new role in Qatar. Stephen provided some insight into relocation overseas, the reasons that he made such a big decision and the challenges that he might face along the way.
He also talks about how he's achieved so much within the legal industry and offers advice to anyone who's thinking of relocating.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself…
Following university in Exeter, I trained and qualified at magic circle firm Herbert Smith, now Herbert Smith Freehills, before moving to Clifford Chance. Both roles involved M&A in the insurance sector, and at Clifford Chance some insurance-related insolvency work. I joined Hill Dickinson in Liverpool and Manchester in 1997, moving North to marry and start a family. I became a Partner with Hill Dickinson in 2000, and Head of Commercial in 2009. There's information on my practice on my LinkedIn profile, but in recent years I have developed particular expertise in advising on engineer/procure/contract projects to upgrade energy infrastructure, typically involving CHP/cogeneration and associated technology, through energy performance contracting (EPC) and energy services company (ESCo) structures, and district heating projects, and associated asset and project finance structures. I have completed more than 35 such projects, for corporates and public sector bodies. I am recognised by Legal 500 UK as a leading practitioner in this field.
2. Why did you choose to pursue a career in law?
I'd like to suggest this was the culmination of a grand plan, but in reality my law degree led me to becoming a solicitor in private practice.
3. What’s your greatest career achievement to date?
Leading the Hill Dickinson team which won the Combined Heat and Power Association's Innovation Award in 2009 for its work on the energy infrastructure project at the Museum of Liverpool, and which was highly commended by the same organisation in 2010 for work on the energy infrastructure project at Royal Free Hospital, London and in 2012 for work on the energy infrastructure project at Southport & Formby District General Hospital.
4. What made you decide to relocate to Qatar?
There are several reasons why I decided to re-locate. Firstly, I wanted to gain experience of working in more of an international role, living and working outside of the UK and of different cultures. Also I was keen to look to build a new team and/or practice in such a setting. And, building on my existing UK energy sector experience, I wanted to gain experience of larger projects and oil and gas work. The Middle East is the ideal region to do this. Al Tamimi offers excellent opportunity for me to achieve these objectives - initially, I was to join the firm's office in Muscat, Oman, but when the opportunity to become Head of Office in Qatar arose it made sense on a number of levels to agree to take that more prominent role on.
5. What are the benefits of working in a law firm in the Middle East as opposed to the UK?
That's difficult to say, in that I've not started in my new role yet. But cultural diversity is one significant benefit. The other main benefit is location: the Middle East has become one of the most important regions for global commerce in recent decades, and notwithstanding recent fluctuations in the oil price that trend will undoubtedly continue. It's not just about oil and gas though: look, for example, at the extent to which the Qatar Investment Authority and Qatari Diar invests in Western Europe, East Asia and further afield. As mentioned above, my new role puts me right at the heart of that.
6. What advice would you give to someone who was considering relocating to the Middle East?
Work with professional advisers who know the region and the key players. Do your research and plenty of it. Be prepared to be adaptable, both in terms of where you might want to work and roles. Get used to Skype interviews on Sunday mornings.
7. What do you think will be your biggest challenge when you relocate?
My family are not joining me immediately, and so working and living without them in the first six months or so will take some getting used to.
8. What are you most looking forward to in your new life in Qatar?
The diversity of the experiences it will offer.
If you're considering taking your career overseas, why not take a look at our City Guides here before you commit to a move.