Women in Industry - Dawn Robertson, Offshore Service Line Director, North Sea & North America, Bureau Veritas

Women in Industry - Dawn Robertson, Offshore Service Line Director, North Sea & North America, Bureau Veritas


What was your first job in the industry?

My first move into oil and gas was when I worked in professional agency recruitment and moved to Aberdeen with my job to run the local operation. At this time I was recruiting senior finance candidates but ended up making the transition to HSEQ recruitment which was my first move into the realms of technical oil and gas. I had studied a BA (Hons) at Robert Gordon University from 1996 to 2000, so being asked to move to Aberdeen in 2008 was an easy decision to make.

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

I worked in professional recruitment for a long time with access across most industries and their individual nuances. When I did get involved in the oil and gas industry, I enjoyed the new challenge and I have relished it ever since.

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

The high point was probably being asked to be part of the creation, development and launch of Bureau Veritas Solutions - Marine & Offshore. This is our brand for all our consultancy and outsourcing services which was launched in October 2018. I was involved in the development and structuring of the organisation along with all of the associated requirements of setting up a new brand – organisational structure, operations, business development, marketing. This is an exciting time for Bureau Veritas and it is wonderful to be an intrinsic part of the journey.

Have you had to face any challenges?

Life throws many challenges at you along the way. I think they are something to embrace as they make you who you are. Even after a really difficult challenge, which can feel overwhelming at the time, on reflection, when the dust settles, you will certainly have learned something through the process. Often it is your own level of resilience.

From your experience, what are the key skills/attributes you need to succeed in a senior management role?

There are many successful management theories and profiles that demonstrate the attributes required to be a successful manager. However, being a successful manager also depends on the environment and the people you lead or have to engage with – these are all contributing factors to an individual’s success.

Personally, I think that you have to be a leader to be truly successful in a senior capacity, not only a manager. There are lots of effective managers that can manage a team and its tasks; a leader is something quite different - they will make sure that everything is achieved while getting their team onboard and brought in to their vision of success.

You need to be a great communicator, engaging, genuine enough to let people in and allow them to know the real you. If they trust you and buy into you, they will buy into the journey you are presenting. You need to be up for taking calculated risks - if it doesn’t work, at least you tried and you will have learned along the way. Continuous learning is important, whether through education or being hands-on; you are never the ‘finished article’.

How do you achieve the work/ life balance?

This is an area I need to get better at – I wish I could switch off but that is a skill that I need to develop further. I want to take on the world at 100 miles an hour all of the time and I have been like this since I was a young child.

Working life is extremely busy and does stretch beyond the contracted 40-hour utopia but I wouldn’t do it unless there was value in the results. However, to get a better balance I do a compressed full-time week so that I have Fridays off to spend it with my two-year old son. We pack it full of toddler groups, football lessons and playdates with his little friends. The weekend is also full of swimming lessons, family adventures, rugby lessons and time outdoors if the weather permits. We have a full and fulfilling life – it’s exhausting but I love it.

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

I would love to see the industry be more open to change and to become early adopters of new technologies and processes. We see numerous other industries utilising work practices and technologies long before oil and gas (e.g. nuclear, automotive, aerospace). The old oil and gas adage of “race to be second” needs to change. There are so many challenges within our industry and racing to be second is just not going to cut it in the fast-paced ever-changing world that we live in.

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

Get involved! There are so many jobs across the industry where transferrable skills from other industries would really add value. I would love to see more girls study STEM subjects as we lose too many through higher education to other disciplines. The energy sector offers so much and is ever-evolving, with new oil and gas discoveries, decommissioning and renewables as the latest additions to the mix. It is an exciting global industry to be part of, so grab the opportunities.

Published: 30-09-2019

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