Life at OCA: An interview with our US Country Manager

Jaime Harrison Rice joined OCA as US Country Manager and Lead Consultant and after a very busy first 6 months, she has taken a moment to reflect on her experience so far and gives an insight into our future plans in the rapidly growing and evolving US Offshore Wind market.

What is your background and why did Offshore Wind and OCA appeal to you?

I am a professional engineer with a B.S. and M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from UMass Amherst. Before joining OCA, I spent 15 years as an environmental consultant specializing in remedial dredging and nearshore construction. Environmental consulting gave me a strong professional foundation and is where I honed my engineering skills, gained experience leading large technical teams, and was exposed to a variety of different projects and stakeholders.

Living in Massachusetts it is hard to ignore the quickly growing offshore wind industry. It is not every day that an industry with this potential directly related to your professional experience appears in your backyard. I saw Offshore Wind as an exciting next step for my career. A way to apply my marine design and construction experience in a new and important way.

In changing industries, OCA appealed to me for many reasons. The team has a strong global offshore wind reputation and, having established in the US in 2019, already has substantial involvement in the US industry. Joining OCA was an opportunity for me to enter into the new industry, learn with the support of an experienced technical team, and bring my skill set to the table to help grow the business.

What has it been like working for OCA over the last few months?

It has been a whirlwind; both exciting and challenging. Changing industries after many years was certainly harder than I imagined, but I’m a few months in now and finding my stride. And it’s been a crash course in Offshore Wind. I have attended offshore wind conferences both in the US and UK, met numerous new contacts in the industry, and have learned a significant amount about the development and construction of offshore windfarms. There is a lot of buzz around this new industry and many people are taking a leap like myself –everyone is learning, paving the way, building an industry – It’s an exciting place to be.

The people at OCA have been great. I count myself fortunate to have worked with many amazing colleagues over my career and the team at OCA is no exception. Being a small company and working in a fast-paced, new industry has a way of bringing a team together…quickly! It’s a privilege to work with such a dedicated team that makes even some of the most challenging moments feel rewarding in the end. We have a supportive and flexible culture where inclusion, knowledge sharing, and training is of utmost importance. It’s been the ideal place to learn the industry.

What makes the role challenging and interesting for you?

My role as country manager is one where I wear many hats. It’s both outward facing and internally focused on operations. The most challenging and interesting part of the role is strategizing for future growth and mapping out how we will get from Point A to Point B all while keeping our OCA culture intact. We are heavily investing in training, infrastructure, and process today to lay the groundwork for efficient operations and growth in the future.

What have you learnt about the Offshore Wind Industry in the US?

On a near daily basis, I am amazed at the idea of building an industry in the US, and the magnitude of what that means. Companies are dedicated to recruiting and exposing students to potential job opportunities, training the existing workforce, establishing technical and health & safety standards, and building vessels capable of installing the projected offshore wind farms. And that list is certainly not exhaustive. I’m proud to be part of a company who is contributing to this effort.

What are the plans for OCA’s US business?

Our US-based team are actively working on a number of “firsts” in the US offshore wind industry. We are thankful to our clients and teaming partners for these opportunities. Our aim for the US business is to grow our team and continue to provide high-quality, locally based services for our clients while providing interesting development opportunities for our staff.

Our US-based team is currently 12 strong and we are actively recruiting to increase that number. We are dedicated to finding new hires that have strong engineering, science, and marine backgrounds, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to learn the industry. We work seamlessly with our larger OCA team located in tEurope to share knowledge between the group, in both directions, and quickly upskill new starters, so they are ready to jump into projects and add value. We have years of offshore wind experience within OCA backing the US team as we grow in the US market.

Not only do we plan to grow in numbers, but also geographically. With operations currently centered in Massachusetts (Boston and New Bedford) and Charleston, South Carolina, we plan to strategically expand into other parts of the country. As the industry sees more leases, development, and construction along the east coast, gulf, and west coast, OCA will continue delivering high-quality advice to support the safe delivery of offshore wind projects – locally.