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International Women’s Day – Elisabeth Søndenaa

Every year on the 8th of March, people all over the world celebrate the progress and achievements made by women. This year, Precise Consultants interviewed 7 women from the Oil and Energy industry who are all at different points in their careers. Although it is commonly perceived as male dominated industry, many women have accomplished rewarding careers in Oil and Energy.

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This girl is on FIRE!!

pic elis

Meet Elisabeth Søndenaa.

A 33-year old Senior Engineer who has been working full time in oil and gas for about 9 years now.

Elisabeth studied Marine Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim where she completed a 5 year master’s study with a Master Thesis about investigating shipping routes in the Arctic. She was born in Haugseund and raised in a small town outside the city of Stavanger, Norway, where the oil and gas industry has had a big influence on the community for the last 30 years.

What she loves most about her job? Easy: ‘’There is a lot of travelling that I enjoy, short and long term, going offshore and meeting clients and subcontractors around the world. It is very dynamic and you are always expected to be able to adapt to new information and have patience regarding changes and delays that may occur due to the complexity of a lot of the projects that we are working with. Sometimes it can be very fast paced and the work day becomes very long due to deadlines, but at the same time, when a project is finished, it is possible to take a long and deserved holiday before starting something new.’’ Elisabeth believes that it is the diversity in her work that she enjoys the most. No days are the same!

Elisabeth’s favourite accomplishment is taking the step to move from Norway to the Netherlands. ‘’It takes courage to move away from something familiar to something new, but I have never regretted going for an international career.’’ She recently came back from a long period offshore where the installation scope that she was responsible for was being finalized. ‘’After working almost 3 years with setting it up it felt good to see it come into place.’’

When asked about the difficulties that she faced while working on projects Elisabeth answered: ‘’There will always be situations where you have to work with people that you don’t necessarily get well along with. I believe that using humour and being able to laugh in a stressful situation makes people relax and get the focus right.’’

According to Elisabeth, in many projects people are being pushed from several sides, regarding time and money, and some people may react very emotionally to stress. ‘’Sometimes people get too agitated. The best thing to do when in such situations is to step away, ask for a break, and continue the discussion at a later stage. Working with different cultures, where stress and emotions are being expressed differently is always a challenge and it is important to be aware of behavioural patterns, especially your own.’’

When asked what she would tell women interested in a similar career as hers Elisabeth replied with: ‘’Engineering is a very broad career path, but of course you have to have an interest in technology and some knowledge of math and physics. More and more women are choosing technical careers, but we are still a minority which may be felt in certain situations.’’

Elisabeth believes that self-confidence goes a long way, which comes with experience. ‘’Sometimes it is good to have a (female) mentor if you are young and recently graduated. Several larger companies provide this and also some universities.’’ She advises young women to get a trainee position before heading out for work.’’

Her aspirations? To continue challenging herself, learning new things and being able to forward that knowledge on to other people as well. ‘’I am not a person who enjoys routines and doing the same every day, and I want to continue to try to do as much new stuff as possible through my life, building on the knowledge I already have.’’