March 06, 2020

On the occasion of the International Women's Rights Day, throughout March we will propose you portraits of BOURBON women employees from various backgrounds. Sailing or based onshore, they will share their experience as women working in the offshore oil&gas marine services sector. First testimonial from Ideh Helen Rukevwe, Crew boat pilot in Nigeria.

"Growing up, I had always wanted to build a career outside the regular. On one holiday, my visitation to the seaport and at the sight of ships along the quayside got me intrigued to working onboard. I kept pondering on the activities going onboard the ship. From that moment, I began an extensive research on ships and its operation and I also discovered other advantages which include exploring the marine world, having the opportunity to work with people from different cultures and earning good salary. Having found my niche, I decided to acquire the relevant qualifications to become a seafarer. I obtained my Associate certificate in nautical science and other maritime professional certificates from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, which gave me the basic knowledge needed to work on board.

Fortunately, I was recruited as a deck cadet by Bourbon Interoil Nigeria in 2011. On completion of my cadetship, my passion grew, I became captivated by the mysteries of the deep and uniqueness of the marine work environment and that motivated me to attaining my class 3, Certificate of Competency. In 2015, I was retained and later promoted to serve as a captain on a Crew boat after going through various trainings ashore and onboard. As a captain, I have the overriding authority and responsibility to ensure safe operation (safety of life, asset and protection of the environment) at all times."

Being a woman in the offshore sector

"Throughout history, the maritime industry is known to be a male dominated field. I have been privileged to work with people of diverse cultural background who contributed immensely to my success. Working as a woman in this industry makes me feel fulfilled and special. Lot of times I get positive support and encouragement. As a person, I do not always expect everything to be cloudless and wonderful and that has prepared me for the unexpected especially when it has to do with gender discrimination. Nothing good comes easy. There are times, you have to double your efforts in order to prove that you are no less than the male counterparts, but some of the seamen whom I know and worked with are positive and supportive.

Lots of women fear to embark on this profession because they believe they might face physical harassment and discrimination. But this is not true, a company like BOURBON employing women have anti-harassment policy to protect and safeguard their rights and identities. I was also given opportunities like the men to prove my capabilities. Working in the offshore sector is fun and also challenging but having a focus is the ultimate in achieving your goals."

My job

"My experience in the marine world has been a unique one. Working with people from diverse culture onboard is interesting and also challenging. Been entrusted with responsibilities as a female captain onboard has helped boost my self-confidence – It’s one of my favorite aspect of the job. I was able to discover my potentials and make significant contributions. As a woman with a strong passion, it has accorded me the ability to be proactive and also helped in improving my leadership and management skills in terms of effective decision making, problem solving under pressure, adapting to situations and having a collaborative spirit."

Work/life balance

"Every profession has its own challenges so does the maritime industry. Working onboard is not easy, one needs a tremendous mental strength to survive onboard. One of the challenges I face is staying away from my loved ones, but what can one do about it, all seafarers go through this. Technology has helped in making things easier, I communicate with my loved ones while at sea via telephone and on the internet. In my opinion, it has also helped me in appreciating my loved ones better. Secondly, Leave (time-off) is a motivating factor of sea work. It is highly appreciated by seafarers because it helps create a work-life balance. During my time off, I am free from work stress and I try as much as I can to make out time for my loved ones and also accomplish some things for myself which restores energy from physical and mental fatigue. Private life and family is one factor that affect career choices but am glad to have people who are supportive in making sure I achieve my dreams.""

My advice to a woman who wants to be a sailor

"I would like to say: never limit yourself, do not be afraid of negative criticism rather let it propel you into achieving your dreams, be passionate! The marine work environment is unique, so enjoy it and make sure you stand out of the crowd positively."