Interview with Christine Roche, New Ventures Manger at PGS

Interview with Christine Roche, New Ventures Manger at PGS

Christine has worked with PGS for 6 years building wide-ranging experience in New Ventures and Basin Studies. She works on a variety of new projects through a combination of her geoscience background (Geology BSc, University College Cork and Petroleum Geoscience MSc, University of Manchester) and business development.

As the third instalment of our Women’s Month interview series, she sat down to talk to us about her own career development and overcoming personal adversity, as well as share her take on gender equality in the oil and gas industry.

Did you have a mentor at the start of your career?

I didn’t necessarily have a particular mentor when I started, but there were a lot of people around me I could trust. In my experience, the better you know someone, the better they can advise you. It’s always good to get advice from someone when they know what you want both professionally and personally.
I’ve grown so much in PGS, going from being a Geoscientist to a New Ventures Manager, which is a more commercial role, I’ve required a lot of guidance, as I’ve steered away from my original path and the degree I did.

Did you find it easy to change role?

Being part of the New Ventures team, everybody is just so positive and encouraging. What was important, was having management who are really encouraging and allowed us to develop how we wanted.

It’s always good to work with a group of people who encourage growth! Could you tell me a bit more about the gender diversity situation in your current team? Surveys show that only 15% of the oil and gas workforce is female, is that reflected at PGS?

Yes, the industry as a whole is still very male dominated. Within PGS, only 4% of our offshore employees are female, whereas in the offices this figure is higher – but still nowhere near equal.

Having said that, I feel like there are so many highly competent, highly qualified women who have been, and are being promoted around me. I don’t feel like I’ve been treated any differently than  my males colleagues at PGS.

Is it fair to say that you feel like you have it relatively “easy” then, especially when compared to the women who came before you?

No! I think anyone has to fight for what they want to achieve – it’s crucial to work hard, show your worth and show you’re capable of doing what you aspire towards.
Do you see benefit in women-only awards and/or initiatives within the oil and gas industry?

Events like AOWomen encourage women to network and be inspired by each other. I think that in this industry, women are particularly supportive of one another.

Of course, it would be better if there were a level playing-field and we didn’t need women-only awards/initiatives, but there are just so few women in the industry that unfortunately this isn’t the case!

What is your view on diversity quotas? Can they lead to meaningful change?

I think it’s important that diversity quotas are not seen as “overpowering” other gender equality initiatives, like companies investing in developing talent and taking care to reward merit. Companies do need to hire women, but perhaps more importantly, they need to work hard to keep those talented women once they get through the doors!

Another important thing to point out is the gender gap in universities in STEM subjects. Perhaps collaboration with educational institutions would encourage increased female participation throughout the cycle.

Do you think there are enough female role models for girls considering geoscience/oil and gas as a career?

 I travel quite a lot in my role and this has allowed me to meet so many strong females – whether in government or in technical roles working for oil companies. There are lots of admirable women out there, it’s just important that young people are made aware of them.
What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?

It’s definitely a personal one. Last year I had to take a couple of months off to have surgery and remove a brain tumour. My consultant did warn me before surgery that I might not fully recover and do the things I had been doing before. However, after a few months of recovery and therapy, and having been supported so well, I was able to return to work.

Not long after, I came to Africa Oil Week and presented at both the Prospect Forum and at a License Round Launch event. I was just so proud of myself, I felt I’d proved that I’d overcome my battle. What was interesting for me though, is that my illness reinforced my passion for my career, and I was determined to keep going.
Given that AOW was somewhat of a milestone for you last year in terms of your recovery, what do you hope to get out of your participation in the conference this year?

The best thing about AOW is that you get to meet with so many people. We travel a lot and meet a lot of different people, so it’s good to catch up with everyone at AOW. I like to see how they’re doing and how we can continue to work together.

I’m also looking forward to the AOWomen breakfast, which I attended last year and intend to join again this time. 

Lastly, what has been your best experience of your travels in Africa so far?

That is a tough one. So far, everyone’s been very friendly and it’s always a treat to go.
In general, my experience of doing business in Africa is that it’s a great environment. People know that you’re there to work together and help each other and they welcome you warmly.
Christine Roche will be speaking at the Prospect Forum, as well as participating in a panel on the Plenary Stage at this year's Africa Oil Week. To learn more about what she'll be covering, click here
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