Borderless Careers

Date: 12/08/2011

Meet Linda, Field Specialist

Location: Takoradi, Ghana
Degree: Brevet de Technicien Superieur - Electronics
Institute: Institut Siantou Superieur, Yaounde, Cameroon
Start Date: 2003

"My focus is to be professional at all times. With professionalism comes respect"

Since joining Schlumberger in 2003 as a Field Specialist (FS), Linda has worked and trained in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Ghana; and has attended specialist technical courses in France and South Africa. Her first assignments were related to testing the rates at which oil, water and gas are produced from wells. Since 2005 she has become an expert in taking representative samples of oil directly from the reservoir and analyzing their chemical composition. Her current job title is Engineer in Charge (EIC), responsible for setting-up and supervising Fluids Sampling and Analysis (FSA) services on land and offshore several West African countries.

What do you do at Schlumberger?

When I joined Schlumberger as an FS, I spent about one third of my time in the field, sometimes onshore but mostly on an offshore oil rig, typically for between 4-days and 4-weeks at a time. I was responsible for assembling and running the equipment into the borehole and making sure the measurements were made properly. Another 1/3 of my time was spent at the local base, cleaning, testing and preparing the equipment for the next job using tools ranging from screwdrivers and hammers to sophisticated computer software. The other 1/3 of my time was at home with my family and friends in Cameroon, usually for 3 week periods.

After several years working in the field I moved into a supervisory role where I spend a lot more time in the office. I am based in Ghana, and my husband has moved from Cameroon to live here with me. I go out to field locations occasionally to help train and support less experienced engineers. I also spend a lot of time working with customers to specify which services they need for their projects and to price our jobs.

Our customers own oil and gas reserves and their value depends on the exact composition of the hydrocarbons. Some components of crude oil have low value because they are difficult to produce or refine while others fetch much higher prices. We collect representative samples from the reservoir then analyze them either in our mobile laboratory in Ghana or in our facility in Aberdeen, UK. The results help companies decide how to produce their oil and gas assets safely and economically.

Why did you decide to be a Field Specialist?

My decision to become an FS started while I was at University when some male friends joked with me and another lady that we would not be able to complete an Electrical Engineering course. We not only joined the course, but both passed the exams with top marks. I found the hands-on engineering part of the course very satisfying, and decided to look for a career where I could use my practical skills.

Linda What are the best things about your job?

I don’t like staying in the same place and doing the same things all the time, so welcome the varied challenges that working for Schlumberger provides. I’m always learning new things and expect to still be learning 20 years from now. I love going to new places and meeting new people, so being paid to travel - sometimes staying in top-quality hotels - is a dream! There is great team spirit among my workmates, and my husband and I have made a lot of good friends.

Do you face any particular challenges being a female in the oilfield?

During some of my assignments it has occasionally been hard to balance being “just one of the engineers” with being female. Facilities are usually quite spacious onshore but some of the older offshore rigs have little deck space and limited accommodation. I have occasionally had to share accommodation with male colleagues and on one occasion slept in the TV room for privacy. However, the field team has always managed to work around the practicalities – for example agreeing times when only ladies will be using the showers. For me, it’s all been good experience, and I find most people are more than willing to work with you to accommodate your needs.

What advice would you give to young women considering a field job?

I think that men are generally more confident, and women can feel anxious when they first join the company. I have always had great support from my supervisors and co-workers, and I often offer to provide encouragement and help when I find a new female trainee. During my time with Schlumberger I have experienced no discrimination against or special favoritism towards women. From my experience, if you prove you can do the job, then everything else will fall into place for you, and people are more willing to assist you. My advice is to always be professional and prove your technical competence. Because I think I have achieved this, I know that my workmates have a lot of respect for me.

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