Christine Onyegbule is Human Resources Manager at Bourbon Interoil Nigeria, in charge of recruitment and personnel management. She talks about her daily challenges and her position as a woman in a predominantly male world. Her secret: not to focus on this specificity but to consider this sector as an industry in perpetual evolution. Interview.
OFFshore: What is your background and why did you choose a career in the offshore industry?
Christine Onyegbule: I studied Law at University and based on my interest in Labour law, i decided to professionally work in Human Resources to manage people and all interconnected resources. My career evolved naturally from working in other industries to working in the offshore industry, this was a different, challenging scope for me because of its peculiarity and the content which is mainly the specific kind of people with their individualized certification requirements up to the fact that yes, they are people but they are people that do not all work on land but onboard a vessel, this, i found interesting and till date the diversity of it all, making it work effectively, has maintained my interest.
OFFshore: How do you live the fact of being a woman in the offshore industry, which is a rather masculine universe?
C.O.: Yes, it is a male dominated environment, but, you see, that is the beauty of it all, because, in being part of the team that is responsible for hiring/managing the workforce, I am inadvertently playing a leadership, driving role in creating a niche for the women-folk in an industry that is perceived as ‘male dominated’. I have learnt to not focus necessarily on the industry as being a masculine industry, but rather, as a fast paced, ever changing industry.
OFFshore: What do you prefer in your daily work?
C.O.: There is actually no part that i do not prefer but i will say the best part of managing people is actually resolving the daily issues that come up, there is never a one size fits all type of solution because daily we receive different peculiar events that will require tailored interventions from Human Resources, so, it is the unpredictability of what to expect that does it for me.
OFFshore: According to you, what are the qualities required for this position?
C.O.: Some primary competencies /qualities are Effective Communication, Networking - the ability to interact socially and professionally, Deep Knowledge of HR Principles/Statutory applications, Leadership, the ability to Manage, Develop and Motivate People, Creativity, Innovative, Integrity, etc. Also, not expecting to be treated differently just because you are a woman but the ability to contribute your best just like every other gender, this will enable you deliver and earn the respect of your team and your peers.
OFFshore: What is your best memory since you worked at BOURBON?
C.O.: This will be when the drive came to hire female seafarers, the process of sourcing, interviewing and actually recruiting women for assignment to our Surfer Fleet was an interesting time for Human Resources, we got to meet young, interesting, talented, career oriented ladies who had decided that sea faring was a profession they wanted to excel at, there was actually a period where we achieved vessels with an almost all female crew for one of our clients. Speaking with these ladies, understanding their motivation and focus on building a name for themselves in an otherwise male oriented environment, gave me the view that truly there was nothing a man could do that a woman could not also do and that these young ladies had chosen to challenge the status quo in the profession; this is important to note that they are the exception to the rule, especially because the theme for the 2021 International Women’s Day was #Choose to Challenge. I am excited to have been part of such an innovative, creative idea, so, that is still my best memory of working with BOURBON.