After my Master’s degree in Moscow, I joined Access, Schlumberger’s structured 36-month graduate-training program. You spend 18 months as a field engineer, and the rest of the time at one of the company’s many offices around the world. Throughout, you’re exposed to cutting-edge Schlumberger technologies and are mentored by experts.
My time in the field was spent as a wireline engineer at onshore wellsites in Indonesia. Wireline involves lowering logging tools into the borehole on an electrical cable, and retrieving information about the formations below. You can then use that information to build a detailed picture of the subsurface.
Those 18 months were amazing – challenging but rewarding. Preparation for each job needs to be absolutely thorough: the tools you’re using must be in perfect condition, for example. Tasks are always intense and you have to stay focused for long shifts. It might seem daunting, but the training really helps, taking you, step-by-step, from the basics right through to undertaking complex tasks unaided.
Of course, there are parts of the job that take a bit of getting used to; some of the wellsites I worked on, for instance, were so remote that we had to travel just to get a phone signal – even with a satellite phone. But I like challenges: I had to take a year out to learn Russian so that I could study at Gubkin University.
And the rewards of field work are fantastic. When a job is complete and the client is happy – that’s a euphoric feeling. And, during all my assignments, I met wonderful and smart new friends from numerous countries and cultures. The work-life balance is good too. The work is hard, but I’ve always had time to pursue my own interests.
One thing that wasn’t a problem at all, though, was gender. In a male-dominated industry, you might think working on a rig would be difficult for women. Our teams were mostly men and many of them were older than me, and more experienced. But even though I was responsible for managing aspects of their work, there was zero friction. They were actually really caring and supportive – so much so that I barely thought about the gender difference. It was like we were working as a family.
I’ve since moved to an office-based role in Jakarta, Indonesia. I’m learning to process and interpret the data that I was responsible for collecting when I was in the field. This blend of field and office training has given me an invaluable range of experience. It has been the catalyst for helping me translate my university knowledge into practical experience – taking theory into a real-world context. I’m really happy about the way my career is going. It’s developing rapidly and growing in the direction I want – to become a senior engineer, running teams and taking on complex technical projects.