Here’s our third installment of our series on women working in engineering. This is the background of Emma Smith, an engineer who has embraced travelling as part of her career.
Having always enjoyed Mathematics and Physics at school, I wished to pursue a vocational degree which led me to studying Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University of Belfast. My final project was based within the energy sector, which I found both challenging yet rewarding. The involvement in this domain together with a desire to travel in my career, and work with colleagues from diverse cultures, led me into the oilfield, and more specifically, to accept a position as a Wireline Field Engineer on the south east coast of Thailand.
As a wireline engineer, I worked in numerous different countries, both offshore, in the desert, and even in the middle of banana fields, acquiring data from oil and gas wells, to help our Clients identify quantities and locations of hydrocarbons. There was a wide scope of work in a very dynamic environment. One morning I could be sitting in an office writing emails and completing paperwork, and by the afternoon I could be preparing tools to run in a well at a rig site 6 hours from the nearest town in temperatures of 45 deg C! During this time, I was also managing a crew – a team who assisted to perform operations as efficiently and effectively as possible, as well as being involved in field testing of new technology.
Following from this varied exposure and the knowledge I gained, I moved to an onshore role to work as a geoscientist supporting Clients in the UK, Canada, Azerbajian and numerous other countries, analysing and interpreting similar data which I used to acquire as an engineer. Using various software to assist with analysis, I now create interpretation reports for various oil and gas operators, and often present my findings to their asset teams.
My current role encompasses many different aspects of a well life cycle. I can be involved from the planning stage through to the final decisions being made for the future operation of the well. I love working with different people on a daily basis, as well as the fact that every well and the resulting analyses can be surprising.
The oilfield is traditionally a male dominated industry. At times, I would be the only female amongst 100 personnel on board an offshore rig or often I am the only female attending a Client meeting. I can only speak positively of my experiences to date and often feel I have brought a previously unconsidered perspective to some meeting topics and discussions.
The potential career and personal development opportunities within this field are huge. I love always being able to grow my knowledge base, and feel that with the advancements in current technology and continuous addition of new technology there is no limit to what can be achieved in my profession.