What’s it like being a woman in the oil and gas industry?

Mary Hackett, Regional Director of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for GE Oil and Gas, and Sarah Harloe, a structural engineer at Technip, will speak at the upcoming AOG Women event on 26 February.

How to get a job in oil and gas
Both Ms Hackett – who was recently named in the Australian Financial Review‘s top 100 most influential women – and Ms Harloe say they hadn’t planned to work in the oil and gas industry when starting their respective careers.

Ms Hackett says working in the industry was very much a function of fate. She started out as an Engineering Services Manager at Woodside in 2006, climbing the ranks to become Senior Vice President Australia Oil, until she left the company in November 2014 to assume her role at GE Oil and Gas.

For Ms Harloe, obtaining an internship with a leading oil and gas company while studying to be an engineer was the catalyst.

“It wasn’t until my final year thesis on a new offshore wind turbine foundation and obtaining an internship at Woodside that I realised I wanted to work in the energy industry.”?

Best part about working in the industry
Ms Hackett says the “vastness and the diversity of the industry”? has held her captive ever since she embarked on a career in oil and gas.

“The best days have been those moments when the impossible become possible, when that project “˜they’ say could never been done takes form or when a team binds in such a way that it is a special experience with a special result,”? Ms Hackett says.

Ms Harloe says the industry is “exciting and dynamic”? and credits her initial experiences with providing her with the drive to work in an industry where she could help people obtain energy.

Challenges of being a woman in oil and gas
While Ms Hackett and Ms Harloe believe it is not necessarily difficult for women to obtain work in the oil and gas industry, they concede that it does come with its own set of challenges.

Ms Hackett says gaining opportunities to progress a career can sometimes be a challenge because “a female leader doesn’t fit the paradigm”?.

“It will take time to eliminate that innate bias we have.”?

Below is Ms Hackett’s advice for women looking to enter and succeed in the oil and gas industry:

  • Get your hands dirty onsite early.
  • Embrace technology.
  • Jump out of your comfort zone regularly.
  • Take the job no one else wants to do.

Ms Harloe’s advice is below:

  • Take every opportunity given to you.
  • Seek knowledge, learn and apply the skills.
  • Surround yourself with supportive peers and family.
  • Take time to enjoy yourself and spend time with your friends – life is not always about work.
  • Constantly challenge yourself.

Click here to read an interview Gas Today conducted with Women in Energy (WIE) founder Ruchika Deora on the gender handicap in gas.

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