Chemical engineer Natasha Vallee clearly remembers her first visit to an off-shore oil platform.
“We had to take a helicopter for about 45 minutes from Stavanger, Norway, out to the off-shore platform,” remembers Natasha. “I was required to wear a full-body survival suit in the helicopter - it was like a wet suit layered with life jackets. When we arrived on the platform everywhere you looked there was only water. It was massive, like a fully equipped city in the middle of the ocean!.”
Natasha was one of only five ConocoPhillips employees chosen for this trip of a lifetime. Just two years out of university, she was the only junior person elected to go, thanks to her constant effort, and the enthusiasm she had demonstrated towards her job in the oil and gas industry.
“To me this proves that regardless of where you are in your career, hard work and a good attitude always pays off!” reflects Natasha.
Natasha and her colleagues from ConocoPhillips travelled halfway around the globe to learn from a more experienced Norway-based team within the company about how they employ integrated operations. The Canadian group wanted to make their work more interactive for employees, and help bridge the gap between crews working in their Calgary offices, and crews at field stations in more remote areas of the province. Natasha was amazed by how much they learned.
“We saw how they relied on each other, for both routine work and for troubleshooting problems. It was truly the definition of integrated operations between a central office and a remote team.”
Natasha was honoured to help promote change in her organization. The operational processes she learned during her experience immediately impacted the daily operations of their Albertan offices.
The trip also gave Natasha new, global insights into what women in engineering can do.
“It put a lot of things in perspective for me,” says Natasha. “I realized how many opportunities there are for engineers globally, and how diverse the projects and experiences are. I was also surprised to see how many women worked in the Norway office!”
Today Natasha divides her time between Calgary, and field-based work in Fort McMurray. She continues to help her team at ConocoPhillips evolve. Natasha also volunteers as a mentor and ambassador for the Cybermentor program, inspiring girls in science and engineering.
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