Diane Wood

Diane Wood

Section Manager

Society of Petroleum Engineers, Aberdeen Section

After 16 years as a Scientific Officer at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, specialising in electron microscopy, Diane joined the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), where she was responsible for Member Services and Customer Care across Scotland.

It was a part-time job that suited her other role as a young mum and it gave her the experience to make a natural transition to the oil & gas industry, as Secretary for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Aberdeen Section Board. After five years as Secretary, Diane became Aberdeen Section Manager in January 2014.

In her spare time Diane is an ambassador for the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. She is also Committee Member for Breast Cancer Now Oldmeldrum Group, Chairwoman of PR and Marketing at the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum and Trustee and Area Representative of Canine Concern Scotland Trust.

My earliest ambition was to work with animals. I wanted to be a vet, but then I changed tack and wanted to be a driver! I loved driving – I used to build and race Stock Cars. I was a member of a racing club and got involved in marshalling and rallying at events. I guess that sense of enjoying a challenge has never left me.

Applying your own unique capabilities can have striking results. When I was at the Rowett, my specialism was electron microscopy. Because I had small, delicate fingers – and am also quite arty – I was well suited to this area of work and absolutely loved it.

With a scanning electron microscope, it was possible to produce beautiful pictures. We would frame and exhibit them at conferences and events. People wouldn’t realise the source material was a bug that you had sucked out of a puddle!

Membership of an organisation like the SPE opens up a world of possibilities. You get so many opportunities as a society volunteer. They gain so much, not just professionally but in the friendships they can often make. It also means they sustain an instant professional network as they move around in their career.

“I see people absolutely flourish; if there’s something that’s their particular passion, they can just go with it.”

I’ve seen instances of our younger volunteers come together to develop and run their own initiatives, doing everything from the organisational and sponsorship work to hosting events at which other SPE members can broaden their knowledge. It’s great to see.

With the SPE, people can start as a volunteer and work their way up to become a Committee Chair and on to Section Board, where they really feel part of something and that their opinion will be heard at board level.

I love the diversity of the oil & gas industry. It’s always such a privilege to meet such a diverse range of people from so many backgrounds. You’re dealing with different kinds of personalities all the time.

It was the same when I worked at the Rowett: you were routinely dealing with people from all over the world, who often had very different ways of working with women because of their cultural background. You had to learn to deal with it – to adapt.

Where educated:Banff Academy, Robert Gordon University
Advice to your 15-year-old self? Don’t be scared of a challenge. There is no such thing as can’t!
A moment of inspiration?There are inspiring moments every new day. I’m doing a fun job and each day with the SPE brings new things.