“Managing Dual Careers: Work-Life Integration in a 24/7 World” was the title of an interesting Distinguished Lecture held in Milan on January 19, 2016, which had, as its prestigious “reader”, Eve Sprunt, former president of SPE International between 2006 and 2009 and now a consultant. The initiative, sponsored by the Italian section of the same association, addressed a topic seemingly far from canons of an industry that is still essentially “male-dominated”, but due to this a topic of increasing interest, just as increasing is the number of female representatives who have found their own way of professional achievement between the pipelines and platforms.
Tacit understanding of mutual support
Based on some recent surveys, Sprunt analyzed the recent increase in the number of couples in which both sides aim at not overlooking their professional careers and who consider it equally important to have a structured family life. There is, in these cases, a sort of predestination and subsequent tacit understanding that often generally unites men and women of the same industry, as in the case of oil engineers, which is based on a mutual support and also on the openness towards any periods of “distance” in order to seize an opportunity for professional growth. An opposite situation to the slightly “conservative” attitude of those who, as men climbing the company ladder, would have responded a few years ago: “Yes my wife has a full-time job: taking care of me and supporting my career!”
Still little female solidarity regarding work?
The reading was followed by a discussion panel which showcased 5 women who have pursued a successful career within the Oil & Gas industry: Marisa Biagiola, Marketing Director of the NSC (National Service Company), a leading company in the oil services industry; Nadia Kalina, working as a Marketing Manager within the same company; Donata Scannavino, HSE Director for the EARC (Europa Africa Russian Caspian) region at Baker Hughes, another major services company and international consultant also within the oil industry; Ida Zanino, Production Planning and Interdivision Transfers at Eni, as well as Eve Sprunt herself. A round of questions and opinions revealed how the professional drive to access a so-called “male” industry has been the willingness to face a challenging career path, where nothing could be taken for granted and that could offer substantial opportunities for growth. All expressed passion for the work they do and spoke of the reluctance of women, compared with the more inherent custom among men, to form a group, perhaps due to the energy required to counter the subtle, yet still very present, male power.