How To Achieve A Successful Diving Career: DIT Grad Troy Gessner on His 22 Years in the Industry

How To Achieve A Successful Diving Career: DIT Grad Troy Gessner on His 22 Years in the Industry

For a college student, success is getting a job with good pay and benefits.

For an athlete, success is winning the State championship.

For Troy Gessner, success is as deep as the ocean.

To Saturation And Beyond!

As a student and young diver, Troy’s goal was to become a saturation diver.

“While I was at DIT, one of the instructors, TK Billingsley, showed a video that demonstrated the deepest work in the Gulf of Mexico at the time. I had no idea such a thing existed, but I knew I wanted to do that,” Troy says.

This was Troy’s first exposure to saturation diving. With saturation diving, commercial divers are able to reach depths up to 1000 feet and occasionally beyond.

Bell Launch

Bell launch

“Saturation diving was sort of the pinnacle of every commercial diver’s career, so I wanted to go that direction. Little did I know that this was more of an interim goal. It’s like when you go toward the horizon and see it’s much further out than you expected.”

“Without a strong education, your opportunities for advancement were extremely limited. I realized that the place I went was a goldmine of diving information,” Troy says.

Troy worked hard to gain the experience he needed to become a saturation diver. Since then, he has completed jobs all over the world, worked alongside several international companies, and landed a supervisor position for one of the most reputable companies in the diving industry.

Floating Production Platform GOM

Floating Production Platform

An Exceptional Beginning

After graduation from Divers Institute of Technology, Troy headed to the Gulf of Mexico.

“I was young and single, and didn’t feel I had much to lose. No one was hiring over the phone, so I called up the contacts that DIT gave me and then went to their offices for the interview.”

Grit blasting

Grit blasting

He pushed through long hours and tough conditions to gain experience and eventually earned his flippers as a saturation diver.

He ended up working in the Gulf for 13 years.

The Right School For the Job

As he gained more experience, he saw the benefits of his education. “I didn’t even know other dive schools existed until beginning the program,” he says.

But since then he has seen first hand the valuable education DIT gave him. “After graduating from DIT, I spoke with other divers and found that though other schools had less curriculum and enabled their students to get into their career faster, they had a much weaker educational foundation.”

Air Supervisor (1999)

Air Supervisor (1999)

He spoke with other divers and realized he was given many opportunities because of the exceptional training he had received.

“Without a strong education, your opportunities for advancement were extremely limited. I realized that the place I went was a goldmine of diving information,” Troy says.

Going International

After a significant time working in the Gulf of Mexico, Troy set his sights on advancing into international waters.

“The second contractor I worked for had strong international presence, and I wanted to move up so I got a passport immediately.”

His first overseas job was in West Africa. And from there, he’s traveled the world.

I worked in many African countries up and down the coast, along with India, Qatar and others.”

Offshore Nigeria

Offshore Nigeria

Troy attributes these experiences overseas to his true success. In many countries, he notes, companies combine efforts in various projects. This collaboration brings people with different backgrounds and ideas together for one project.

“As a field guy, I love working in these joint ventures; it broadens my experience and helps me see context behind the partnerships.”

Through these partnerships, he’s expanded his business relationships and networked with companies from all over the world.

Gaining Experience Around the World

Troy is now a Client Site Representative for many international jobs.

“I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some relatively large-scale construction projects recently involving a wide range of tools.” He’s also been able to experience a variety of techniques used in commercial diving, including surface-supplied air and saturation diving.

Bell Trunk 2001

Bell Trunk (2001)

Sometimes his jobs are planned projects, but sometimes unexpected subsea problems occur, and Troy has to be ready to dive in and fix the problem quickly.

Whether in an emergency job or routine work, Troy is collaborating with with the best workers in the industry.

Supervisor Troy: Manager of Safety

Troy is currently working for Exxon Mobil, an internationally recognized oil and gas company. It is a position he is proud to say has many benefits, but comes with a lot of responsibility and many years of hard work.

DDC1 Transit

DDC1 Transit

Troy’s passion has always been in diver safety. His goal has been to work in a position where he could influence diver’s safety directly. “It’s now a central part of my job,” he says.

A Multifaceted Job: Safety on Every Level

He helps oversee the procedures, teams, equipment, and occasionally even the contractors he’s working with.

He collaborates with the contractors to review and approve the procedures being used for their current project. “We then take the approved procedures offshore and work with the contractor to help ensure the work is completed safely and according to industry standards and best practices.”

Making sure the people performing the work are qualified and competent for the task is another important part of Troy’s job.

Gas Diving (2003)

Gas Diving (2003)

“Similar to how homes are built, in many cases large offshore projects employ a prime contractor who then hires specialist subcontractors to perform specific parts of the project, like diving.”

Part of Troy’s job is to review the qualifications and experience of the dive teams.

“Over the years I have seen many gaps in diving safety, and ever since I first became aware of that I’ve tried to keep safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Ultimately, I’m helping the spread the understanding of cost savings through safety; by managing safety you’re managing long term financial risk.”

Troy’s Advice

Troy has reached a peak in his career. And while there may be more opportunities for him, he’s satisfied with what he has accomplished.

He has come to recognize the most important elements of commercial, mainly the importance of safety. He’s worked to improve himself and those around him, and encourages new divers to do the same.

DIT graduate Troy Gessner

DIT graduate Troy Gessner

“Keep your eyes and ears open and use all the resources at your disposal to see what the diving world has to offer you… Also, invest in your own career. I see my guys not moving up because they’re not investing in their own career.”

Commercial diving certainly has its challenges. But Troy has proven that with hard work and an open-mind, it is a rewarding and profitable career.

Written by Beth Smith, Creative Strategist at Water Welders

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