Brokering for Excellence

Brokering for Excellence


Coveted certifications make Noble’s trade compliance team the best in the business. 

Irene glances at her phone as she leaves her son’s bedroom and walks down the hall. 9:40 PM. The lure to wind down for the evening is tempting, but a colossal tome titled the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States is waiting for her back at the dining room table. If Irene can finish chapter 85 of section 16 tonight, related to electrical machinery and equipment, she will stay on track with her study schedule and upcoming exam in two months.

Customs Complexities

Irene Osayi is a Senior Traffic Analyst in Noble’s logistics group. She joined Noble in 2010 and joined the International Trade Compliance team in 2015. Irene is part of the team that manages the movement of goods worldwide to support Noble’s global operations. The array of items a rig might need to order is enormous. There are over 500,000 items in the catalog and ensuring goods purchased are routed correctly and pay correct customs and duties fees is a complex task. Logistics Director Kevin Smith explains “the importance of trade compliance cannot be underestimated. One way Noble maintains its high level of compliance is to have trade expertise in-house in the logistics group.” The path to becoming an expert in trade compliance is to be certified as a Certified United States Export Compliance Officer or Licensed Customs Broker. In August of 2016, Irene decided to independently pursue both the license and the certificate.

Big Books

The largest book most of us have ever used is probably the unabridged dictionary from our days in school. Despite Webster’s version having 2,662 pages, it’s no match for the 16-pound and 5,000+ pages required to house the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and Code of Federal Regulations volumes. Irene needed to purchase a catalog rack to support the largest volume and study time typically meant the entire dining table was covered. Irene explains “preparing and passing the exam requires a high level of organization and commitment. I created a regimented study routine, tabbed and highlighted all the Codes of Federal Regulations (CFRs), HTSUS, textbooks, memorized reference materials and took several practice exams. The rigor of the Customs Broker Exam has been compared to passing the Bar exam.”  


The intricacies of international trade appear in some unexpected situations. Noble rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico follow one set of regulations when actively drilling and an entirely different set on stand-by between jobs. Irene and the compliance team’s knowledge of how import and export rules vary allowed the Noble Bob Douglas to move between the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and contracts in Suriname and Guyana without disruptions. Logistics Compliance Manager Jim Upchurch, who is also a Licensed Customs Broker, is proud of Noble’s qualifications within the group. “It is unique for a drilling contractor to have this level of expertise in logistics and customs. Irene is a diligent and dedicated team member and the crews on the rigs greatly appreciate her efforts. Her initiative to become certified is admirable and the resulting knowledge ensures Noble is compliant in relation to U.S. import and export regulations.”


Exam Day

For a total of six months, Irene plowed through textbooks, regulations and practice exams on her free time. She knew the exam had a high failure and being thoroughly prepared was the best way to succeed. Over 1,400 people sat for the Customs Broker Exam in April of 2017. Irene was among the 26% that passed, doing so on her first try. In March of 2018, Irene took and also passed the Certified United States Export Compliance Officer exam. Armed with the tools of her profession, she is excited about the future. “I am grateful the exams are over and I can resume spending my free time with my family. The knowledge from the certifications makes me a stronger part of the logistics team and gives me personal pride that I did my best.” 

A Strong Team

Irene’s certifications broaden the knowledge of an already strong global trade compliance team. All four members of the team: Jim Upchurch, Irene Osayi, Cindy Dorris and Natalia Caldeira are Certified US Export Compliance Officers (CUSECO). For the customs broker license, Jim Upchurch was already a licensed US Customs Broker and Cindy Dorris is currently preparing for the broker exam. Both the license and certification require continuous education training points to maintain a current designation. The entire team stays engaged in changes and updates to import/export regulations and works diligently to keep goods moving for Noble in a timely manner. 

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