By Linda Hsieh, managing editor
It’s no secret that Brazil has seen a big boom in its oil industry in recent years, driven by a string of significant offshore discoveries. For the young professionals of Brazil, this boom has brought them a wealth of new job opportunities that weren’t available to previous generations of workers in the country.
“There are many companies that want to attract (the young workers), so they have many options for employment in Brazil. It’s a very good location for the candidates these days,” said Eduarda Pina, Transocean workforce planning manager, who splits her time between the company’s Rio de Janeiro and Macae offices.
Ms Pina herself is among the new-generation Brazilians who found herself recruited into the energy industry in the early 2000s. She got her first taste of the business with two internships while studying mechanical engineering at the Pontificia Universidade Católica (PUC) in Rio. Then, during her second semester at PUC, she decided to apply for Transocean’s Rig Engineer Program (REP), attracted to the promise of being able to work in the field rather than in the office.
“I wanted to work more hands-on and get that experience rather than doing something theoretical in the office. So the first three years I was basically on the rig, working with the guys and getting to know the equipment,” she recalled. “It was an important experience for me. There’s nothing like learning on the rig… The guys who work on the rigs have so much experience and knowledge.”
She also appreciated the structure of the operations-driven program, which took her through the entire rig so she was able to learn different equipment and technologies. Moreover, the trainee was always paired with an experienced employee on the rig to help facilitate knowledge sharing, she said.
In 2006, after completing her initial three-year training on the Deepwater Expedition drillship and the Sedco 710 semi, Ms Pina became an operations engineer and went to work in the Gulf of Mexico on the Transocean Amirante. By 2009, she had worked her way up to asset rig manager of the Deepwater Millennium, operating offshore Brazil.
In May 2010, she rotated into her current position as workforce planning manager, where she’s responsible for the recruitment and development of the national workforce in Brazil. “We’re focused on several different development programs right now. I think it’s difficult to pass on experience to another person, but having the trainee stay on the rig one, two or three years is the best way,” she said.
Tracking and developing individual employees’ competencies is another major effort she’s undertaking in Brazil. “We are challenging employees’ competencies more than in the past, for sure. So we need to always monitor them and make sure they can perform. We need to make sure they are really competent in each position.”
Looking to the future, Ms Pina would like the opportunity to move into other departments within Transocean before deciding on any specific tracks to pursue. “And I think it’s good to know what each department goes through and their challenges. It’s important to know how different departments interact with each other and how they support the rigs.”
As for the industry’s generation gap and the “big crew change” that have caused some concern, Ms Pina said it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. “It’s interesting for the younger people coming in because you see there’s a lot of space to grow and to learn from the more experienced ones. I see (the generation gap) as a good thing. You have people that have been there and you can mirror yourself to,” she said.
“The industry is challenging because it’s always changing. But it always gives a lot of opportunities to young people – or anyone, really, who likes to progress.”