Drilling Fluids Specialist

Location: New Zealand
Degree: Chemical Engineering
Institute: University of Western Australia
Start Date: 2014
"It is currently a male-dominated industry, but this just means that there are more opportunities for women out there."


Career Profile: Sarah-Jayne


Why did you decide to join Slb?

“At the end of my Chemical Engineering degree, I was looking for a job that was going to be challenging and interesting - where I wouldn’t be spending all my time at the office, and where I would have a chance to do and learn something different every day. With Schlumberger I get to do that, and it’s wonderful that I’ve also got an opportunity to travel around the world for it.”

What do you do?

“I’m currently working as a Drilling Fluids Specialist (or Mud Engineer) in New Zealand. Our job involves making sure that the drilling fluid has the right properties and is doing the job as intended. The drilling fluid is essential to an oil rig, and it’s very important that it is working efficiently or there can be major problems and the well may be jeopardized. Typically you will stay on the oil rig for it, and there is a fair amount of chemical testing and data tracking involved.”

What is your opinion of the training and development you have been offered?

“I thoroughly enjoyed the technical school that I attended in Houston. I really like that Schlumberger invests so much time and money in training and that you don’t really need to have a background knowledge in the subject before you come to the technical school. It was an advantage that I have a Chemical Engineering degree and it definitely made technical school easier, but plenty of people did not have that background and thrived at school. School was definitely a challenge and we had to study a lot in order to pass, but it was absolutely worth it as the information I learnt is very relevant to what I’m now doing. Because of the program that I am in, I will be “re-training” every 6 months, and am looking forward to this as I know that Schlumberger invests a lot in making sure that employees’ training is world class.”

Can you describe your own path for advancement?

“I’m in a five year training program (PROACT – Program for Accelerated Career Training), so for the first two years I will move through the four different sub-segments within M-I SWACO (Drilling Solutions, Environmental Solutions, Wellbore Technologies and Wellbore Production). This will involve a different technical school every six months over the two years. After that I’ll choose which area I want to specialize in and spend two years working in that area and going to a number of technical schools to increase my skills. After that I’ll spend a year working in a country specifically for that area of the company and then once I’ve finished the training program I will continue working in that area of M-I SWACO.”

How would you describe the work environment at Schlumberger?

“So far I’ve really enjoyed working for Schlumberger. My initial training has involved time in Houston, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and New Zealand and everywhere I’ve been, the people have been really friendly and helped me out. Because I’m still new and learning my role it’s been wonderful to have so many people looking out for me and also everyone’s been so willing to teach me the skills I need for the job. Moving to a new country, it has also been great that everyone has been so welcoming.”

What do you like most about your role?

“With my particular training program, I like that I’m going to learn about every section of M-I SWACO and then will be specializing in an area that I’m truly interested in. I also like that in this job I get to meet new people and learn new skills all the time, and of course I have the chance to work all over the world.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

“One challenge is that I’ve moved to New Zealand from Australia for the role, so I’ve had to get used to being away from my friends and family, but this has just given me a chance to meet and work with new people, with different professional and cultural backgrounds. It can also be quite challenging as due to the nature of the work, the roster is fairly unpredictable and you always need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. You need to be very flexible as things and plans can change very quickly.”

What is your feeling on work-life balance?

“I think that work-life balance is very important. You need to have a chance to spend time with friends, family and doing things that you enjoy. Work-life balance can be a bit of a challenge with Schlumberger, because the job is unpredictable, but this is something I’m working on. Being in a new country, I’m enjoying exploring New Zealand in my free time.”

What recommendations or advice would you give to a female STEM student considering the oil industry as a career?

“I would say that it’s a fantastic opportunity and it’s well worth doing. It is currently a male-dominated industry (on the last rig I was on, out of 90 people there were 2 women), but this just means that there are more opportunities for women out there. It can be a little daunting, especially the first time you enter this sort of environment. It is different to an office job, and requires an adjustment to the way you approach it, but once you settle in I think that it’s a thoroughly rewarding industry, full of unique challenges and worth pursuing for anyone considering it.”