Women in industry: Beatriz Rodriguez, Vice President, Human Resources, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE

Women in industry: Beatriz Rodriguez, Vice President, Human Resources, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE


What was your first job in the industry?

I joined the oil and gas industry in 2011 in one of the most strategic moments of the business for General Electric, at that time. This job was in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, and we had just acquired five companies to complement our portfolio, one of the biggest acquisition activities in the industry; I was the HR Integration Leader. I have always loved the space of mergers and acquisitions and the opportunity it presents to bring cultures together to form one company that is more powerful.

From that moment on, I fell in love with the potential of the oil and gas industry. To have the opportunity to bring more energy to the world and improve the future outlook through cleaner energy solutions using data driven performance. This industry has changed so much since I started my career and I’m looking forward to what we will do in the next couple of decades.

Was the Oil and Gas industry always the industry for you?

I never thought that I would spend most of my years in this industry, however, once I realised how much it had evolved and how much potential it has to flourish, I immediately knew it was the place for me. After the downturn, most companies who play in the oil and gas sector has come out stronger, different, more creative. The downturn demanded that we start looking at things in a new way, challenging ourselves and each other to be better. As a company, we’ve reinvented ourselves and how we deliver outcomes for our customers, while keeping safety and the need of our environment at the forefront of everything we do. We have a very clear commitment to be a zero carbon emission company by 2050 and that is what keeps me going in this industry.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

The highest point of my career so far was when I received the opportunity to help turn around one of our global business units that was struggling to meet financial obligations. It was quite a challenge and nobody could seem to pinpoint exactly where the pain points were. My first priority was to look at the business model and identify how the company was delivering outcomes and executing work on a daily basis. From there, I worked backwards through the organisation to be sure the various leaders were aligned. I learned a good lesson during that time – Traditionally, human resources, and most support functions within a company, look at things from the inside out. I changed my mentality, and started looking at the business unit from the outside in. I asked myself: “how do our customers perceive us”? We made a decision to re-design the entire organisation structure and created a whole new execution model. The business delivered triple digit profits in just one year and we received the General Electric Chairman Award for the best Tier 2 business turnaround. For me personally, it was a great learning experience and to see our workforce satisfied and proud of the business they worked it was the highlight.

Have you had to face any challenges?

Of course! To date, I have lived in five different countries in the last eight years. I have found myself in many circumstances that were culturally challenging while also making it difficult to excel in my career development. I remember being in Latin America and going to Venezuela to visit our teams and facilities. We were required to have bodyguards given the security issues of the country. When I would visit Comodoro Rivadavia, south of Argentina, I experienced very tough negotiations with our union population when it came to benefit harmonisations plans. One of the most challenging times for me was when I lived in Russia and had very little resources while also not being able to speak the language. All of these experiences made me stronger and I now appreciate everything I’ve learned during those opportunities.
From your experience, what are the key skills/attributes you need to succeed in a senior management role?

In order to succeed in a management role, operational excellence and the right say-do ratio is the basis of the recipe for success. That is the “what”, however, it is not enough. You can deliver great results, but without the “how”, you’ll never be “successful”. The “how” includes caring about people, building relationships, showing true passion, setting clear expectations and being as transparent and honest as you can with your teams, your peers, your bosses and yourself.

How do you achieve the work/life balance?

Finding a work/life balance is always a bit complicated. There are multiple books and articles that I’ve read over the years that have helped me incorporate some flexibility in my schedule.

Finding a work/life balance isn’t one size fits all and each individual has to figure out what works best for them and their family and friends. For me personally, I call it work/life integration, instead of balance. I make a lot of “to-do” lists that help keep me organised. My career is very important to me but nothing is more important than my family so I try and integrate both those priorities in my day-to-day schedule and just do the best I can knowing I’ll never be perfect, but always striving for perfection.

Is there anything you would you like to see change in the industry?

Safety is at the core of this industry and for me it’s something I’m absolutely passionate about. I read an article recently that said the oil and gas industry needs to do better when it comes to HSE. At BHGE, we strive for a perfect HSE day with no issues where we keep our employees safe from all hazards and ensure they return home to their family and friends exactly how they left them. I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to safety and I truly believe nothing is more important than the health of our people. We’ve come a long way but I do feel like we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to this topic in our industry.

What would be your advice to other women looking to enter the energy sector?

I would ask them to think about our industry and a career in our industry through the lens of the potential to change the way conventional things work. The energy sector is taking immense strides around diversity in our industry and women just need to trust that large, global companies, like BHGE are focusing on moving the needle. At the end of the day, the most important thing is pursuing something you’re passionate about. The oil and gas industry that we all knew 20 years ago is a thing of the past. Moving forward, BHGE will continue to bring energy to the world transforming traditional careers and the best is yet to come.

Published: 27-08-2019
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