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Women in Industry - Fiona Carson, CTO at LUX Assure

Women in Industry

Fiona Carson, CTO at LUX Assure


What was your first job in the industry?

I started at LUX Assure in 2007 as a Scientist and then became Senior Scientist and am now the Chief Technical Officer.

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

I studied Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and my interest was always in Inorganic Chemistry. When I started at LUX we worked in several different industries but as our oil and gas projects progressed, a decision was made to refocus the business solely on the oil and gas industry.  I didn’t specifically set out to work in oil and gas but find that it’s a challenging and exciting industry to be a part of.

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

Taking an idea from the proof of concept stage right through to being sold globally has always been something I’ve been proud of. I was involved in the early stage discussions with Operators on what our OMMICA™ product should do and how it should look and then worked with the team at LUX to create something that the industry has embraced and is now used across six continents.

Have you had to face any challenges?

Yes, many! Often as a Scientist you have a clear vision for the best way to develop a product, e.g. a chemical detection kit must give the most accurate answer. We’ve learnt through experience that often, in practice, other aspects of a test can be more important, such as speed, robustness and ease of interpretation of results. The challenge comes in balancing all these characteristics to produce a great product.

Our CoMic™ product has faced a different sort of challenge – here we have brought a new concept to the industry. CoMic™ informs users of whether their corrosion inhibitors are optimally dosed through the detection of surfactant aggregates called micelles. The business development behind CoMic™ has been challenging as it has involved introducing a new way of thinking about chemical analysis and results interpretation. The technical team at LUX have been heavily involved in helping deliver this message and formulating an easily digestible message for the industry.

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

I always try to listen to my colleagues and be supportive. I have the advantage of having worked in a number of different roles within the company and this often gives me a unique perspective.

I also make sure I have a thorough understanding of all aspects of our technologies. For instance, we do a lot of complex data analysis and I feel it is important for me to know how to do this, so that if an issue occurs I am capable of understanding the steps required to fix it and how long it will take. I don’t know if this is always essential in a Senior Management role but I don’t feel I would be as effective without this sort of knowledge.

How do you achieve the work/life balance?

I have a one year old daughter so that keeps me extremely busy outside of work! Since returning from maternity leave I now work part-time, which has necessitated some improvements in my time management and delegation skills. When I started working part-time I was constantly checking emails when I was out of the office but quickly found this wasn’t sustainable.

I now have scheduled times for checking and responding to emails and find this much more effective, while also allowing me to give my daughter my full attention the rest of the time. In the future I’m looking forward to getting back on my mountain bike and surfboard but for the moment parenting and work take up most of my time.

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

I’d love to see more openness to new technologies. There is generally a reluctance to be the first to field trial new technology which can make product development difficult. We have been fortunate to partner with some major Operators, this has been vital for us and ensured that what we are designing meets the needs of the industry.

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

Go for it. I see a lot more diversity in the industry now than when I started 10 years ago. A large number of the Production Chemists we work with are women. I’ve been offshore on platforms in the North Sea where there’s only been one or two other women but it really doesn’t make any difference if you’re good at your job.

Published: 27-07-2019
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