Starting out in the industry

One of the big challenges we face in life is knowing and understanding the full range of opportunities that might lie ahead.

It’s important to believe that you can achieve what you want, where you want, if you’re prepared to work for it. The world is your oyster.

The message from many of our interviewees is to think broadly about your future; be ready to seize opportunities when they come your way and always try to do something you love.


Self-confidence can be a limiting factor for many people, however experienced  they may be. It may hold them back from going for a promotion at work or a place in a sport squad. It may influence how they project themselves inside or outside of work or school. Many of the women we interviewed for this book not only lacked confidence at some stage in their lives but often continued to do so at points throughout their careers, even in very senior roles.

Believing in yourself, and having the confidence to BE yourself, is often a struggle for many of us – even when we’re told we’re doing great! We may be faring well in exams or getting excellent reviews at work, but sometimes we just refuse to believe it. But you should try to remember people are not just saying this to be nice – they mean it!

‘Live by your own rules, not those of others. Find ways to build your confidence. It’s important to live by your own rules, not those of others. Don’t take a job or go to a university just because your parents or school tell you it’s the right thing to do, or because you feel you ought to. Try to work out what you really, really want to do. It’s easy to drift into things or be taken on someone else’s conveyor belt to a place you don’t really want to be. You’re much more likely to be successful if you are passionate about what you are doing, and if you own the choices you have made’
– Vivienne Cox CBE

Most importantly of all – have more confidence in your own abilities. This is often down to changing your mindset and there are lots of different ways to do this… sometimes, something as simple as listening to your own confidence-boosting playlist can make all the difference.

‘Don’t worry if you makemistakes’
‘Have confidence in your abilities and take advantage of opportunities. Do what you’re good at and what you enjoy; if you aren’t enjoying it, move on – but give it a fair test first. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Try to avoid making large ones and work to reduce how many you  make, of course, but always learn from them.’
– Jen Brozowska OBE


It’s rare for someone to acknowledge they are worried or frightened; we’re scared to admit that we aren’t sure. Just the simple act of sharing your worries and concerns can help. Knowing that other people have experienced – or are experiencing – the same issues can also help us to realise how normal our feelings are. More importantly, talking to others builds friendships.

‘Follow your dreams… don’t let your fears guide you’
‘Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Follow your dreams rather than letting your fears guide your behaviour and what you do. Even if it goes wrong, that’s only a step, in a much bigger journey.
Make choices about what is next rather than worrying about what just happened. Make the next thing something that’ll make you proud.’
– Gretchen Haskins


Most oil & gas jobs are based onshore. However there are opportunities to take up roles in a diverse range of disciplines in offshore operations as well as to work on projects abroad. In the modern-day industry it’s an exciting, dynamic and  inclusive workplace – but be prepared for life in a very different environment.

‘Taking conscious decisions helps you have control. Always be conscious of the phase of life you’re in, and don’t wait for things to happen. Being aware of your choices, and taking conscious decisions, helps you to have control. If you’re waiting for something to come along, it won’t!’
– Deirdre Michie OBE


Almost everyone interviewed for this project, the authors included, can reflect on ‘opportunistic’ careers that haven’t followed a planned path. They’ve embraced opportunities without necessarily knowing where they might  ultimately lead. If a door opens, don’t be afraid to step through it…

‘Didn’t feel I was treated differently’
‘When I joined the industry, I didn’t really think about the fact that it was male dominated. During my time working on a land rig in Canada, I was usually the only woman there and never felt uncomfortable. There were a few people my age there. I didn’t feel as if I was being treated differently; if anything it’s usually people being nicer to you.’
– Lauren Adams
‘A failure will never undermine me because I know I’ll have done my best. I’m very curious intellectually and believe this has allowed me to take risks. I’m very resilient so even when something I am taking on might fail, I never feel that it will undermine me because I know I’ll have done my best. I have a ‘no harm, no foul’ philosophy on life.’
– Roxanne Decyk
‘Sometimes life isn’t a straight
line… be ready to take  advantage of opportunities’
‘I didn’t excel at school, and didn’t initially go to university. Operation Raleigh took me to Zimbabwe as a canoe instructor. It was a great learning experience; I fell in love with Africa and spent three years leading overland expeditions from London to Cape Town. The people on the expeditions tended to be young professionals who took six months out and then returned to their careers. All these people had gone to college and so I decided I’d try it for myself! While studying environmental science at Aberystwyth I read ‘Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History’ by Stephen Jay Gould, this turned my attention to rocks, and that was it – a switch to study geology and never looking back.


Life isn’t a straight line, sometimes things just pop up – maybe you didn’t realise something was there to be found. Somehow you stumble upon it, and when you do be agile, be ready to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise.’
– Rachel Preece
‘Always choose something that looks interesting and fulfilling’
‘Ever since university, my decisions have been influenced by what’s technically interesting to me. I’ve never had a long-term plan. The question I still dread most from someone more senior in the company is: ‘where do you see yourself in 10 or 15 years’ time?’ The answer is always ‘I don’t know’. I’ve always chosen options that looks interesting and will use my technical capabilities.’
– Caroline Gill
‘Have confidence in yourself and be comfortable in your own skin’


‘I have felt uncomfortable a number of times in the past when some  men have not been supportive, but you have to find a way to deal with it. You can have a positive conversation with your manager  rather than make a complaint. There are times when formal channels are exactly the right thing to do, but there are also times when we can do more for ourselves.


When I was offshore I built up a support group of people. Most men liked you being out there – they were supportive and wanted to look out for you.


It doesn’t suit everyone. Certainly it’s much more open to women now  but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You must have confidence in yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. You do need to  be resilient and self-reliant.’
– Colette Cohen