The road less traveled

The road less traveled

"After all, that's what makes our job special."

David Woods has no time for monotony, which particularly suits his job as a consultant. It is the unpredictability that drives the 51-year-old with his typical British charm – and which still gives him satisfaction after more than 20 years.

Text: Hannah Ziegler

 

David Woods has arrived. Even though it initially sounds quite the opposite: “I could drop everything at any moment and fly to Saudi Arabia or the USA the next day,” he says. One phone call is all it takes. His job as a consultant for more than 20 years has become the elixir of life for Woods. He loves working with people and getting to know new cultures. “After all, that’s what makes our job so special, isn’t it?

Sentences like this give away his British origins – as does his sense of humor: witty, with a twinkle in his eye, but not uncontrolled. He is not one of those consultants who streamline their lives to fit their job. Quite the opposite, in fact: his curriculum vitae includes many professional twists and turns. The Briton has rarely stayed with one employeror in one post for more than two or three years. The only exceptions to this rule are the start of his working life and his career at T.A. Cook.

Before completing a degree in Construction Economics at Napier University in Edinburgh, Woods went to sea for five years in the British merchant navy, working predominantly on oil and gas tankers. For the past seven years he has been working at T.A. Cook, where it seems destiny is bringing him full circle. “As a consultant, I now visit chemical plants that we used to sail to back then. It’s a funny feeling because I would never have thought that I would ever be returning to these places,” says Woods. But it is in the 51-year-old’s natureto switch perspective at frequent intervals. “I’m not the best at planning,” he admits. So he usually reacts spontaneously. The result is a zigzag course that took him from university, through various jobs in a construction company and a bank, to finally ending up in consultancy.

Woods climbed the career ladder with an American consultancy firm, learning the business from scratch. There came a time when he was always on the road. “I had 30 projects running in parallel and I used to enjoy traveling even back then, but I noticed that it was starting to wear me out,” remembers Woods. He gave up the job as a training manager and switched to a Belgian consultancy firm. But even there he soon felt ill at ease: Always the same place, always the same offi ce. The balancewas missing.

“At T.A. Cook, I am in a position in which I can really enjoy traveling again."

David Woods has to get out, has to run free. As a metaphor for this, he usually has running shoes in his suitcase. “You can jog anywhere.” Although he mainly prefers to run in Berlin because of the variety, of course. “I don’t like running in straight lines. In Berlin there’s something new around every corner.” The more corners the better. For Woods, this is not just a running style but an attitude toward life – and it suits his consultant job at T.A. Cook perfectly.

Since 2007 he has been assisting companies in the process industry with their turnaround and maintenance projects – and more than ever has the feeling of belonging to the company. “They take care of their people, not just the clients – that’s what sets them apart.” Woods particularly appreciates the personal interaction of the colleagues with one another, but also the personal freedom that he has in his job.

However, he repeatedly fi nds himself out of his comfort zone. The industry and the issues are new, so it sometimes feels like having to start from scratch. He still remembers today the words of his then project manager, Markus Treiber. “He said there were hardly any situations that we hadn’t already confronted at some time. No reason to worry.” It became his mantra and source of self-confidence. The 51-year-old has now more or less established himself.

In addition to the project business, he also leads seminars and training courses around the world. He just got back from Saudi Arabia. “At T.A. Cook, I am in a position in which I can really enjoy traveling again,” he says. And even though several entry stamps already fi ll his pass port, there are still some blank spots on the map. Such as Australia. “From everything I hear about the country, the people are relaxed and easy. I would fi t in perfectly,” he says. It sounds as if he is already planning his next trip into uncharted territory.

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