A: Tell us more about your journey and the profiles that you have handled.
SB: I have taken on many challenging roles over the past 35 years. Some of my assignments included spearheading the LPG Bottling plant for 12 years, leading mechanical maintenance and operation sections, installation manager for 18 years and safety officer. I am currently the first and only Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization certified person in the LPG plant.
A: The oil and gas sector is typically perceived as a male-dominated sector, what made you choose this career? As a woman, what were the challenges that you faced?
SB: Since the oil and natural gas industry is one of the oldest industries, it is natural for it to be a male-dominated one due to the societal construction of earlier times. When I decided to opt for a career in this industry, I took it as a challenge to make myself a self-made individual. In the beginning, I never realized that the path would be so hard.
I thought recognition and promotions came late to me even though I always prioritize my work over my family. Even when my mother passed away, I did not miss office for more than a day since I understood the criticality of the ISO audit that was underway for my department. Having said this, my leader was also not supportive and commanded me to come to work even during this time. I often felt that recognition for technical work was granted easily to my male colleagues while I had to work twice as hard to get myself noticed.
Such challenges continued throughout my career. I realized that stakeholders play a significant role in your success, so I used interpersonal relationships with people of other departments to help me perform my job well. I also kept my focus intact on knowledge and wisdom and kept updating myself on technological improvements in my sector and successful projects done by others.
As far as leading a team is concerned, I often felt that many male managers were not comfortable taking advice from a woman leader. I thought my gender was considered over my achievements here, but I kept proving myself in being a technically sound leader, and the respect automatically followed. So yes, it has been a tough ride but an enjoyable one!