00:14 Michael Gaines: Hello and welcome to NOV Today. I'm your host Michael Gaines. One of the benefits of working in a company with operations in more than 60 countries is the benefit of experiencing a vast array of people and cultures all coming together to serve a diverse industry. One of the interesting opportunities or challenges can sometimes come in the form of learning how to speak the language when visiting such regions. In this case, I can say that as I sat down with two individuals from NOV's Brondby facility, I learned that the process can be a bit challenging sometimes.
01:00 Michael Gaines: Okay, so we'll go ahead and start. This is NOV Today, and I am your host Michael Gaines, and I am on the road, on a trip to Denmark, to discover more about Flexibles and the technology and people that make this particular technology really a standout in the marketplace. And so I have, oh man, hold on, I have Kristian. Can you tell me your last name, sorry?
01:31 Kristian Glejbøl: It's Glejboel which is completely unpronounceable for the...
01:36 Michael Gaines: Glejboel.
01:37 Kristian Glejbøl: Glejboel.
01:38 Michael Gaines: Glejboel.
01:38 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah.
01:39 Speaker 3: He's still butchering it, I see. [laughter]
01:42 Michael Gaines: Sorry, say it one more time.
01:43 Kristian Glejbøl: Glejboel.
01:44 Inger-Margrete Procida: Glejboel.
01:45 Michael Gaines: Glejboel?
01:47 Kristian Glejbøl: Actually, my scientific career stopped when I changed to that name.
01:54 Michael Gaines: Okay.
01:56 Kristian Glejbøl: It's GLEJBOEL.
02:00 Michael Gaines: BOEL?
02:02 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah.
02:02 Michael Gaines: And how did I not pronounce it correctly?
02:04 Kristian Glejbøl: Glejboel.
02:05 Michael Gaines: Glejboel?
02:06 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah.
02:06 Michael Gaines: Glejboel?
02:07 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah, you're very good at pronouncing it.
02:09 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, that's good. Yeah, yeah.
02:10 Michael Gaines: Thank you, thank you. I have done one thing right today. Alright, Glejboel.
02:14 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
02:14 Michael Gaines: Okay.
02:15 Michael Gaines: So with that out of the way, let's try to restart this interview.
02:25 Michael Gaines: Alright, I will try my introduction again. Glejboel?
02:29 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah.
02:30 Michael Gaines: Okay, very good, I will try it. Alright. So I have here with me Kristian Glejboel and Inger-Margrete Procida. So Inger-Margrete and Kristian, thank you for being here.
02:42 Kristian Glejbøl: Thank you for inviting us.
02:44 Inger-Margrete Procida: Thanks for providing the invitation.
02:45 Michael Gaines: Very good. So I'll start with you, Inger-Margrete. Can you share your title and what you do here at NOV?
03:00 Inger-Margrete Procida: My official title is that, I'm Principal Engineer for polymers. That means that I am responsible and have been responsible for a lot of the developments regarding polymers that is used in the flexible pipes.
03:14 Michael Gaines: Okay, great. And how long have you been working in the company?
03:19 Inger-Margrete Procida: In this company I have been working since 2002.
03:23 Michael Gaines: Okay.
03:23 Inger-Margrete Procida: Always working with polymers and development of polymers.
03:27 Michael Gaines: Okay, and how long have you been working with polymers?
03:30 Inger-Margrete Procida: Oh, a long time. I started actually in another company that is not part of the NOV group anymore, it was called NKT Cables. So, overall, I have been working with polymers for 50 years.
03:43 Michael Gaines: Oh, wow!
03:44 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. [chuckle]
03:45 Michael Gaines: Man, that is excellent.
03:45 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
03:46 Michael Gaines: So you are the person to talk to about polymers then.
03:51 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, I think so, yeah. Let's say that I have a broad background in polymers.
03:55 Michael Gaines: Yeah, very good, very good.
03:56 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, development and also use of polymers.
04:00 Michael Gaines: Okay, excellent. And Kristian, so can you also share what's your title and area of responsibility?
04:07 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah, my title is Principal Engineer Innovation, and I guess my main job is to help innovation come along. If people have like a halfbaked idea, I help maturing the idea. And beside of the innovation thing, I'm also quite heavily involved in everything that has to do with patents, like going to court cases and evaluating competitors' patents and stuff like that.
04:43 Michael Gaines: Oh, so if I have a parking citation that's not something you can help me with in the court?
04:47 Kristian Glejbøl: No, no.
04:48 Michael Gaines: Okay, well, yeah, alright.
04:50 Kristian Glejbøl: If you have a technical question, I might be able to help you.
04:53 Michael Gaines: Yeah, no, that's good. And how long have you been working in the company?
04:58 Kristian Glejbøl: There's a short and a long answer. Short answer is eight years, and the long answer is quite a bit longer. Because I've been at the NKT group, and after that NOV for... Ever since I was... Stopped at the university. But then I had a detour to Novo Nordisk that makes insulin products. So I've been off and on again, but pretty much, all of my life, I've been in NKT or NOV company. Yeah.
05:31 Michael Gaines: Yeah, wow, okay, wow.
05:34 Michael Gaines: After our initial introductions, Kristian shared the beginnings of the NOV Flexibles group.
05:40 Kristian Glejbøl: I think, actually, we started as an... It was incidental that we started making pipes because we actually started as NKT making cables. And then at Iceland they had a volcanic eruption and there was an island that ran out of water. So our first pipe was actually a cable that didn't have any metallic core to feed water to an Icelandic...
06:11 Michael Gaines: Oh, wow.
06:12 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah, island.
06:13 Michael Gaines: Wow.
06:13 Kristian Glejbøl: So it's... I think... Basically, we are here because of...
06:19 Michael Gaines: A volcano?
06:21 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah, a volcano, yeah.
06:22 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, a volcano, of course. And I think, if I understand it correct, but maybe you can ask Søren Thustrup, this pipe is 50 years old this year or next year, and it's still in service.
06:34 Michael Gaines: Oh, wow. So the same pipe that was installed...
06:35 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
06:35 Michael Gaines: Oh, wow. Wow.
06:36 Inger-Margrete Procida: Installed at that time. I think we installed two pipes. And one of them was destroyed, but the other one is still working. I think, the story I was told was that in the '90s someone said, "Okay, we have supplied a few of these water pipes and also some pipes for chemical transportation, but is that really a business? Can we earn money on that? So should we either drop it or go deeper into that business?" And the management of NKT Cables decided to go deeper into the business and said, "Okay, then we must look... What kind of other pipes could be suitable for us?" And then we started to develop offshore pipes, so that was in the beginning of the '90s.
07:21 Michael Gaines: And then from there, you just continued to...
07:23 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. So and from there... Yeah, this is the beginning of the flexible story, you can say.
07:27 Kristian Glejbøl: But the point is, if you're making cables, big cables, then you have much of the infrastructure which is needed for making pipes. So even though the transition seems like a big transition from the outside, actually from a technological point of view, it's not that big a shift.
07:49 Inger-Margrete Procida: Now, that's clear. I can say it from my own, because I was sitting in the development group also in NKT Cables, and we wanted to develop big energy cables for transporting energy over long distances. And the technology I learned there, and the development project I was involved with in that area is precisely the same I used as a background when I invented our XLPE pipes. So I built on that things I've learned from the old cable time. So Kristian is right, we... There are a lot of things that are... Yeah.
08:26 Michael Gaines: Inger-Margrete says, "You're accurate," so you're accurate, [chuckle] and you get the stamp of approval.
08:32 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
08:34 Michael Gaines: So I'm curious, back to you Inger-Margrete, when you were talking earlier about your background, especially now having experience or deep experience in polymers, what is that process... What does that look like? Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen over the course of your career, and how these things have impacted the technology and business, because I suspect that you've had quite a bit of influence, both in our organization, as well as sort of leading the way in some of those innovations.
09:15 Inger-Margrete Procida: I think it's a joint... Because when we started this company, we started, what shall I say, on the base of these water pipes we have supplied. So we started with simple pipes. But I think it was clear to all of us almost from the beginning, that if we wanted to go into that business, offshore business, we need to develop new pipes, use materials we haven't used before. So I don't think it was a giant... Not a giant step, it was a slow stepping up from the simplest pipe, to more advanced pipes, to the highest and most advanced pipes that we are able to produce today, where we are even going to cross borders and develop pipes that is not on the market yet.
10:03 Inger-Margrete Procida: So I would say it's more stepwise, we needed to go to higher pressure, to higher temperature, and then we said, "Okay, this material is not suitable to a higher temperature than 90 degrees, okay we must find another material that could go to even higher temperature."
10:19 Kristian Glejbøl: But I think, the whole way this business and this technology has been developed has been nonstructured. When we started in the '90s, the deep water was like 300 meters, 500 meters, and if you could make a pipe that went to 500 meters you were okay. But then our customer comes and says, "We would really like a 1000 meter pipe." And, now we can't do it with our current technology, and then we have to invent... So rather than having a golden girl,
[chuckle] we actually gradually developed the technology so it suits the needs of our customers.
11:06 Michael Gaines: How do you balance what you need to work on, or how do you focus and prioritize, because you have... A customer might say, "This is what I need today." But you also know that what they're asking today is gonna be very different than what they're going to need in five years.
11:23 Kristian Glejbøl: The way it works is you are doing your daytoday work, and then you hear bits and pieces from sales and colleagues that has problems. And then somewhere in behind of your head a process has started, and then suddenly you get this idea. And I have a rule of thumb, if people don't like the idea it's either a lousy idea or a brilliant idea. [chuckle] If everybody likes the idea it's average, and nobody really cares. But there is constant inventing and having this dialogue of, "What do you mean?" And you have to trust your colleagues and ask your colleagues, and then... It's not like we go into a room and do a brainstorm, it's from the management books. In reality you... You get the... You make the inventions because you really know your product and you know the weak sides. And a part of your brain is always asking, "Is this good enough or is there anything else you can do which makes it better?" I think we have the best customers in the world because they really know the business.
12:45 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
12:45 Kristian Glejbøl: And it's not like if we are going to sell a new iPad and have to convince the market. This is... There's a pool from the market for our technologies and... The safe way is to make the pipes as we did yesterday, but our customers wouldn't allow that. And so, it's the market pool that makes us innovative.
13:15 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, and we have a close dialogue. As soon as they have problems, they come back to us and say, "There's something here." And this dialogue is extremely important because that helps us drive the innovation in the right direction.
13:32 Kristian Glejbøl: And I also think it requires trust. The customers trust us and communicate the problems to us in a very early stage.
13:43 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. Yeah, and I think we have developed that trust over the 15 years or 20 years we have existed, because when we came to the market, we were the newcomers, and we were only doing what the others did. But since they found out that we can do something that the others maybe can't do, then you build up this trust where they come to us in the early stages and say, "Okay, we think there is a problem with this very high pressure, so please be careful here." Or, "Yeah, we want you to help us to go to higher temperature," for instance. "Is there a chance you can develop a product for that?"
14:25 Kristian Glejbøl: That's quite a good case. We have this heated pipe and it was actually some customers that were interested in, yeah, in buying some pipes, but they had to be heated.
14:40 Inger-Margrete Procida: Because the oil had a very special composition.
14:41 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah. But...
14:43 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
14:43 Kristian Glejbøl: That was a really shotgun innovation because if we couldn't make a heated pipe, we would lose that customer. And then, something starts to happen, and then the solution actually, it's a quite simple solution, but it was triggered directly by a customer need which was almost on paper.
15:10 Michael Gaines: Heated pipes, that sounds very interesting. So prior to its invention and development, was that something that was already in existence?
15:24 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah, one of our competitors has a heating principle where they use heating pans outside the armor layers and it's not very efficient. But then if you look at a pipe a little like this, you realize the pipe is actually a huge electrical resistor in itself. So instead of doing all this stuff while putting in heat pans, we just realized we could power the pipe and the...
15:58 Michael Gaines: Oh, wow.
16:00 Kristian Glejbøl: So we are actually running maybe 1000 amps through the carcass of a pipe and heat it in that way. And we get the heat exactly where we need it in the ball. And it's... Really good solutions often sound stupid and simple afterwards, but it was really a breakthrough.
16:18 Michael Gaines: Well then, if the simple solution sounds stupid, then I think all my ideas are great.
16:24 Michael Gaines: No, but that's really interesting, yeah, to hear how something so... To your point, so simplistic ended up being, I guess, really so revolutionary and really kind of having that impact. I'm curious, Inger-Margrete, so you have about 50 years of experience to your name, and I'm curious, what has been your perspective and your view on the industry in your time, and what are some of those major changes that you've seen that have kind of stuck out to you?
17:03 Inger-Margrete Procida: I think that what we have done in Flexible is that from the very beginning, I think we had two things in our mind. Of course we wanted to do the same as the competitors are doing because that was our entrance to the market, but we also wanted to do it our way. And I think that's one of the things that we have managed here, is to do things our way. We have found solution that maybe was not so known on the market, so I think we have been successful making other solutions, more innovative solutions, for instance, finding other materials that fill a gap that is not filled by the others, and I think that has been the driver for being, for us ending up with the company we are today. But I think also, it's fair to say that right now we are, I think, a bit in a crossway because some of the traditional solutions that we have been developed over the years, it need to be changed in a more dramatic way that we have seen before, because the development we have done so far is we have built on what we have done before, but now we need to do something dramatic. As Kristian is saying, we can't... We really need to do new things.
18:28 Michael Gaines: What do you mean? So you say we have to do new things. What...
18:30 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, we have to consider, to look at our pipes in a different way. Kristian mentioned heated pipe. I know it sounds simple, but in a way it was, seen from my chair, a really big change in a traditional pipe, what we have been doing there. And now that we have seen this very special demands for where we have special oil, we have demand for maybe transporting oil, who's very aggressive, then we need to look carefully in the design we have today and say, "Are these materials really suitable for that kind of pipes?" And that could, seen from my chair, cause dramatic changes in our pipe structure.
19:14 Michael Gaines: Yeah, that sounds exciting to me. Yeah.
19:16 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. I think we need to... What is it called nowadays? We need to be disruptive.
19:22 Michael Gaines: Disruptive. Right.
19:23 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, exactly. Because we are standing... Yeah, yeah. What do you think, Kristian, am I right?
19:28 Kristian Glejbøl: I think you're right. And I think, actually, we have an itch as Danes, because it must be a pain to be manager for Danes because they always ask, "Why? Could we do it better?" [laughter] But in this company, I think it's a blessing because we are not trying to mimic our competitors. We overtake the competitors but not by doing the same as they are doing, just smarter. And I think it's a flaw in the Danish psyche that makes us always ask, "Can we do it better?" And it is because of the weather outside, it's raining all the time.
20:15 Michael Gaines: Yeah. Rather, yeah, rainy day today, and cloudy.
20:20 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, I think my plan is... I never had a really good plan, but I have been a lucky person doing what I would consider interesting things. I was employed by NKT Cables and worked in their materials lab in... We had a factory in Copenhagen at that time. After some years, I was considering that this was quite boring. There was a lot of routine jobs, and things were... NKT is an old company, so there was not much development, but we had this plant here in Brøndby, so I volunteered for a job here. And then very fast, I was involved with this great development of the energy cables, and that really caught me because it was something I really wanted to do, a part of material development and also seeing the result of the development, a product in the end. I was really caught by that, and then I was eventually a bit involved with the water pipes. And then NKT Cables here in Brøndby closed, and I was offered a job also in NKT Research, so I went there, and it was, seen from my chair, really boring.
21:36 Inger-Margrete Procida: So I phoned the manager here in NKT Flexibles and said, "I want to have a job with you. Is that okay?" Then she said, "Yes." That's how I came to NKT Flexibles. And since I have been in the development department always, I have been involved with most of the development we have done on the polymer during these 15 years we have existed. I have always got new, very interesting jobs, and always in the same sense where I said, "I need to close the gap between developing, finding a right material and having a product." And yeah... The craziest thing you said, I still think it's fun. I'm still working on new things. Yeah, and no career plan. It was just that I got interesting jobs. So that kept me here, yeah.
22:34 Michael Gaines: Think about the last 50 years, and what's happened in our world over that time period. We've seen things like the emergence of the World Wide Web, the final deciphering of virtually the whole human genome, the introduction of the first cell phone, the creation of DVDs, ATMs, electric cars, and even designer water. Yet over the same time period, quietly in Denmark, Inger-Margrete helped transform an entire part of the oil and gas industry. For someone who has made such an impact, I wanted to know where her motivation and original inspiration came from.
23:16 Michael Gaines: Was there anything in your background that you think drew you to this type of area? Did you go on expeditions when you were growing up in the forest or anything or... [laughter] I don't know, like I did. And maybe that's just me, I don't know.
23:36 Inger-Margrete Procida: I think that I need to blame my father for all this, for all my career life. He was a development engineer himself, and we lived very close to the company he worked for. And when I was a child, I sometimes went to look at the things he was doing. He was there on Sundays looking a bit on his... And what his things were, he was boiling things, and doing different kind of things. So, I was caught by it already at that time. I was absolutely sure I wanted to become an engineer. So I'm sure I can blame everything... I think the way he worked with things, that's the way I do myself. Yeah.
24:20 Michael Gaines: And 50 years later, you continue to apply it. That's really interesting.
24:24 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, yeah. So it's thanks, or I can blame him or thank him, I don't know.
24:28 Michael Gaines: Yeah, I think it depends on the day, right?
24:30 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. [laughter]
24:31 Michael Gaines: No, that's really cool.
24:32 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. And for me, it has always been this challenge to dig deeper and find the right material for this purpose. Yeah. As I always say a lot to people, "To find a new material, that's easy. You just go to the Internet today, you can find all kind of materials, but to get it work in a pipe, that's your challenge." That's what I like to do.
25:01 Michael Gaines: That is so good. That is so good.
25:05 Speaker 3: I wanna hear his answer on that.
25:09 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah, let's hear Kristian, how it came to you.
25:11 Kristian Glejbøl: I think my answer is quite simple because it's also influenced by my father and he said, "You should always be able to look yourself in the mirror in the morning and if you feel proud, just continue what you're doing. If you don't like what you see, do something else." And it's as simple as that. But I think enthusiasm and passion, that's really important. Also for yourself to have a good life, if... You have to want to do what you do. Otherwise it just becomes gray and...
25:51 Inger-Margrete Procida: I totally agree, yeah. And I think that has also been that passion and that commitment, that has taken us to where we are today.
26:00 Kristian Glejbøl: Yeah.
26:01 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
26:02 Michael Gaines: As a father of two daughters, I can personally say that, a lot of what my girls have learned can be attributed to what my wife and I live each day. That is, our kids are partly a product of what's caught, not taught. In the same way, Inger-Margrete shared that a lot of the passion and motivation that drives her success at work has been caught by her daughters.
26:25 Inger-Margrete Procida: And my other daughter is a specialist in heart diseases, and now, when I was talking a bit about the passion, they have the same passion. My youngest daughter, she's in Boston right now, and you know the way she describes what she's doing, I can certainly see it's the same as myself.
26:45 Michael Gaines: Oh, where you see what you're doing in her, huh?
26:48 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah.
26:48 Michael Gaines: Wow, isn't that cool?
26:51 Inger-Margrete Procida: Yeah. I think Kristian was pointing a very important point, that if you are passioned with your job, and I think you are a lot in Denmark, passion, then you are really committed to do it. Yeah.
27:05 Michael Gaines: Wow, that's great, I love it. I think that's really interesting because I hear... I always think I'm gonna hear something new when I go somewhere, and there are bits and pieces, but consistently, I hear the same language, no matter what facility I go to, which I think is very intentional. That's very cool. Well, Kristian and Inger-Margrete, thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspective and your stories.
27:34 Kristian Glejbøl: Thank you.
27:36 Inger-Margrete Procida: You are welcome!
27:37 Michael Gaines: Thanks for listening to this episode of NOV Today. If you'd like more information on NOV's subsea flexible pipes and related services, head over to nov.com/flexibles. If you'd like to contact us regarding this or other NOV Today podcast episodes, feel free to send an email to [email protected] or you can tweet us, using the hashtag #NOVToday. You can also visit nov.com/podcast to listen to the three previous Flexible episodes as well as other podcast episodes. For NOV Today. I'm Michael Gaines. Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you later.