Embracing the industry

All the interviewees share a common love for the industry they work in… each as different things they love the most, whether it’s the variety of projects, the diversity of people, the scale of engineering challenges or the impact they have on the lives of others.

“It’s a “wow” industry when you consider the scale and complexity of the engineering projects we have to tackle.”

Here are just a few examples of what these inspirational women love about the oil & gas industry.

‘More diversity than people realise’
‘The roles I have had have been hugely diverse, which I love. It’s given me a very rounded career. People see the industry as being dominated by heavy engineering but there is much more diversity than people realise. I hope people can see that through how careers like mine have evolved.
– Deirdre Michie OBE


Love your job, but always remember there’s more to life than work. Enjoy the  wider opportunities that come your way, and never lose sight of your priorities.

Katy Heidenreich, Mount Babadag, Azerbaijan
‘Think about the things that matter’
‘My advice to my younger self would be to think more about the balance, about the things that matter. Otherwise you won’t realise it until it’s too late. The company will still be there if you don’t work the weekend.’
– Roxanne Decyk
‘The important role we’re playing’
I love just how much it matters – what an important role we are all playing for the world, and it goes largely unnoticed! People do things like fill the car and never give a second thought about what’s involved in making it happen.
Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng
‘Flexibility which goes with the lifestyle’
‘I love the industry environment and having access to great technology. The opportunity to travel is also attractive. It’s not one we have taken full advantage of yet in terms of long-term relocations, but I have been all over the world for work and training. That’s one of the best things about being a geologist. There are great rocks in great places, as well as great conferences in great places! It’s a privilege to be paid as well as we are and to have the flexibility which goes with the lifestyle. We don’t underestimate that privilege.’
– Caroline Gill
‘Solving problems and making a difference’
‘The oil industry presents big, difficult and important problems with global dimensions and environmental consequences, and in solving them you are making a difference to people’s lives. You can have an impact on economies and a country’s prosperity; it is not just about shifting the share price, it is about community welfare. Very few other industries have such an intrinsic criticality.’
– Roxanne Decyk
‘Work hard, give your all… but keep a balance’
‘I love doing the job I do, although it doesn’t define who I am. You need to remember that, while you may be important, it is in a very small space and in the grand scheme of things you matter much more to your friends and family. If you don’t give those people your love and attention then why should you matter to them? So I try to say to others: “Work hard and give your all, but try to stay open and maintain a balance”. It took me a long time to listen to other people, but learning to listen early is good. Importantly, let your hair down and enjoy things. There’s no point in working this hard if you don’t enjoy life, so find what makes you happy and do it.’
– Colette Cohen
‘The variety… the enthusiasm… the friendships… the places’
‘The variety of projects and ideas that I see; the expertise of company personnel and their universal enthusiasm and positivity (sometimes against the odds); the friendships that build up over the years; the places I’ve been able to visit.’
– Jen Brzozowska OBE
‘Society benefits from having our industry around’
‘I love that you get groups of people aligned and inspired… we once hosted a delegation of 30 mayors from Norway; they’d come to see how we worked. I got so much energy and inspiration from that engagement because it showed how society benefits from having our industry around. These mayors represented places that 35 years ago were little fishing villages and now they are thriving, prosperous towns. There has been enormous change and there are enormous groups of people aligned around it.’
– Nicola Gordon
‘Interesting to see the very real impact of the actions you take’
I particularly enjoy the areas of my work where I have most contact with real businesses. In many areas of my role, the taxes I work on have a fairly indirect impact on business. That’s not the case when it comes to the upstream tax regime and oil & gas companies – and I find it most interesting when you can see the very real impact of some of the actions you take. For example, when Ministers announced changes to the tax system to support brownfield developments, suddenly there were headlines about ‘jobs boosts’ as projects were given the go-ahead because of the new arrangements. You could see how your contribution had made a difference.
– Helen Dickinson
‘A foundation of safety and mutual reliance’
‘The inclusiveness. Usually when you are providing catering, housekeeping and such services, they are outside the core operations. Yet this industry includes all the supply chain; there is a foundation of safety and mutual reliance – it is very much a partnership.’
– Susan Elston
‘An opportunity to do something you can celebrate’
I like that what we do is technically difficult – that we need technology to solve the challenges. The solutions are rarely perfect – there is no “right way”. You constantly have to think for yourself and use your common sense. Given where we are as an industry, we have a big responsibility to solve the challenges sustainably. The oil industry offers an opportunity to do something that you can celebrate. You can see what you’ve got at the end of the day – there’s a tangible result. It wasn’t a consideration when I joined the industry, but I love the fact that I work with a very wide range of people. Everyone brings different perspectives. There is a diversity of minds, and we can use the power of our differences to achieve extraordinary results.
– Alison Goligher OBE
‘Doing the best things to improve safety’
‘I didn’t previously know a great deal about oil & gas but, with a love of aviation and a passion for safety improvement, when the Helioffshore job came up I knew it was the job for me. I love it because there is a chance to make a difference on a global scale and it’s all about doing the best things to improve safety on the front line – how stakeholders work together to drive the things that will make the greatest difference in preventing accidents.’
– Gretchen Haskins

Rachel Preece,

Yosemite National Park