To kick-off International Women’s Day celebrations this year, we caught up with Karyna Rodriguez, VP Global New Ventures at Searcher.
Karyna is a Petroleum Geoscientist with 30 years of multidisciplinary technical experience in global exploration-inclined projects. She possesses diverse experience from her time at PEMEX and BG, including regional seismic interpretation, prospect generation, amplitude anomaly and sequence stratigraphic play analyses, integrated reservoir characterization field studies and prospect and volumetric chance evaluation through customized systematic probabilistic risk analysis processes.
What drew you to a career in the oil and gas sector?
From a young age I knew I had a special interest in the physical world. When looking through a careers handbook to select my university degree subject, I stumbled upon Geology and didn’t need to go any further in my search. I was immediately drawn to all the aspects of studying Geology and the prospect of working in the oil industry was just the cherry on top of the pie. It never crossed my mind that this was a male-dominated sector and as I look back on my career, I believe that it is the passion, dedication, hard work, resilience and respect for cultural differences that have allowed me to progress.
Describe your leadership style in just a few sentences.
Growing up in a multicultural school – where there were up to 71 nationalities at any one time – gave me first-hand experience on valuing, respecting and integrating cultural differences. I believe this has influenced my leadership style to be inclusive, trusting and respectful.
How has COVID-19 impacted gender diversity in both O&G and the wider energy sector in Africa? Is there opportunity for women in this moment of adversity?
During the past 8 years over which I have worked in Africa, I have seen an encouraging shift towards a higher proportion of women participating in the energy sector. In terms of the impact of COVID-19, in my view, any adverse situation always brings opportunity for those who are willing and able to take it. As a mother, one of the most challenging aspects of my career has been to arrange childcare while travelling. I think an advantage of the COVID-19 situation is that it has highlighted that work can be productive from home and should allow more women who have children to join the wider energy sector under conditions which ease childcare arrangement challenges.
Globally, why do so many women still seem to struggle to make it past middle management to reach senior leadership roles – particularly in the energy sector?
This is a question which could be answered by a full PhD thesis as there are many aspects which come into play. However, from what I have observed, women with children are more likely to leave the industry or to take a step back at an early stage of their career. By the time that women are ready for the more senior roles, there are likely to be more men than women applying for the role. In some instances, cultural bias may favour men but there are instances where culture can favour women.
There is no one right answer and there are probably as many answers as there are women who have tried to get into these roles. Whatever the reason, companies should be aware that it is proven by several studies that companies which encourage diversity perform better due to the different points of view which diversity brings.
How is your company working to attract the best young – especially female – talent to work in oil and gas?
This past year has been particularly challenging for our industry and most companies have had to reduce rather than increase resources. Despite the relatively small size of my company, the gender and age balance are an indication of an appropriate inclusive policy which endeavours to attract the best young talent. Passion is the number one characteristic we look for when hiring – everything else just follows!