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Our man in Kurdistan

Posted by: Christopher Cunnane

A few weeks ago, Chris Cunnane - Kurdistan Development Manager, flew out to Kurdistan to work at our office in Erbil, the Iraqi capital of Kurdistan. WRS has been operating in Kurdistan since 2015 working with all the major oil and gas companies. Chris has flown out to support our existing clients and contractors and to build new relationships to develop new business opportunities. We sat down with Chris to ask him all about his experience so far.

Have you been to Kurdistan before moving?

Yes, previously to starting my rotation I had visited for a week each trip, on four occasions.

What appealed to you about working in Kurdistan? Why did you decide to move out there?

I suppose there's two ways of looking at this, from a personal and professional perspective. Personally, I enjoy travel and going to far flung places and after doing my initial research I realised Kurdistan might not be what most people expect. Erbil is a forward thinking, modern city with rich history and some of the most impressive landscapes I have seen on my travels. There are lots of cafes to have meetings/work from and have lunch. Local restaurants to sample the incredible cuisine, regional restaurants to try food from nearby countries and even high places with western food - it has it all. There are bars and nightclubs for the weekend and a strong international expat community working in all sorts of industries. The local people are very friendly and helpful.

From a professional perspective, Kurdistan is in its relative infancy in terms of the Energy Sector but nonetheless a strong country with its output. There are a mix of international and local operators and the same for services companies. There is a lot of activity going on across the board and its exciting to be at the forefront of it all with WRS. My skills have developed quickly in a short space of time to adapt to the situation and I am truly grateful for WRS giving me the opportunity out here.

I would highly recommend anyone takes up an opportunity to work out here.

How did you feel when you were offered the opportunity to move to Kurdistan?

A mix of emotions - excited, nervous but overall happy to be going. I have worked abroad in the past but never for an extended period or to the Middle East so to say it was exciting is an understatement.

What is your role in Kurdistan?

I am the Kurdistan Development Manager and the role has a few different elements to it. My main focus is working closely with all our key clients to make sure things are running smoothly, this bracket also includes all WRS contractors, making sure all is well with them and helping where possible with any queries they may have.

I am also responsible for new business and working to develop relationships with other companies in the country that we are not yet working with.

How have you found the experience so far?

It’s been great, no one day is the same and typical day could see me travelling around the city to different offices for meetings, meeting for coffees in various cafes/hotels - or if people are busy during the day we may meet for a beer out of hours for a catch up and to watch some sport.

What’s it like to live in Kurdistan and is it safe?

Erbil, where I am based, is a well-established, forward thinking, modern city with all the usual amenities, bars, cafes, restaurants, malls, cinemas, bowling alleys and gyms. Unlike most cities, it also has one of the oldest known inhabited places on the planet - a citadel dating back around 6000 years and has been passed through Sumerian, Assyrian, Sassanid, Mongol, Christian, and Ottoman hands. It’s a mix of modern and unique history. I am also planning a hiking trip to the mountains as there are also unique in their own right and will have more to follow on that.

Safety is of the upmost importance in Kurdistan and they have the infrastructure to reflect this. I have been told and also found an article that rates Erbil as one of the top five safest cities on the planet.

How can WRS help businesses in Kurdistan?

We can help you to source expat and local candidates across all functions in the Energy sector - both in office and out in the field. We can also help with things like Visas and residencies, pay rolling services, mobilisation, Tax and social security solutions.

What is Kurdistan doing to up-skill the local workforce?

There is a huge drive for all international companies in the industry to meet certain quotas on the training and succession planning of expat roles, to become roles for local professionals. WRS is adhering to this too and we are currently building our local team of professional (the live jobs can be seen on our website and other online places).

We are also working closely with our clients to provide local professionals and help develop the succession plans for certain roles, as no two jobs are the same and require proactive planning before commencing the recruitment process. 
If you need help with anything above, please email

Interested in reading more about Kurdistan? 

Read our latest blogs or visit our Kurdistan page to view our jobs in Kurdistan:

About WRS

WRS is a global workforce solutions and mobilisation company, specialising in the mining, maritime, construction, commodities, IT and energy industries. If you are considering your next move, register your details, send us your CV or you can simply take a look at our latest job vacancies.

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