By Jay Stracke, Editorial Coordinator
Life is a series of decisions, sometimes on things that seem inconsequential at the time but end up opening doors to a new life never envisioned before. For Soraya Carvalho, such a decision came on a snowy February day 13 years ago when she decided to attend an information session that National Oilwell Varco (NOV) was holding for prospective recruits at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Mrs Carvalho, a graduate student studying leadership development and marketing at the time, was feeling down that day. As a Brazilian citizen on a student visa in the US, her legal eligibility to work in the country was a sticking point for employers who didn’t want to go through the extra trouble of sponsoring her. As a result, she had been turned down for several marketing and sales jobs in multiple industries, including mobile communications and even the dairy farming industry. While she had been hoping to stay and work in the US, “I was getting to the point where I didn’t think it was going to work out,” she recalled.
Then, she got a call from NOV. The company was holding an informational session at her school and asked her to join. “I didn’t feel like going, but I did a little bit of research, and the first thing that popped up was a map where they’re located, and I saw Macaé.”
While Mrs Carvalho was born and raised just north of Macaé, in the Laje do Muriaé municipality of the state of Rio de Janeiro, she knew little about the oil and gas industry and never saw herself entering the business. But, out of curiosity, she decided to attend NOV’s session to find out about both the company and the oil and gas industry.
Right away, she was drawn to the company. “For me, it was this sense of family,” she said. Even now, 13 years into her career with NOV, she gets that sense of family with fellow employees around the world. “I’ve been to China, Norway and most countries in Latin America. When I get there and the moment I see someone from NOV, I feel like I’m at home. There’s a sense of a global family.”
From a young age, Mrs Carvalho had always wanted to visit the US and study English. To save up enough money to participate in an exchange student program, she switched to a school that offered evening classes so she could work a clothing retail job during the day. Her mother even took an early retirement package from one of her jobs to help make Mrs Carvalho’s dream come true. “My mom saw how serious I was, and she went beyond the plan in order to support my dream. From that point on, I knew this was my only opportunity, and I had to make it work, no matter what.”
So, in the late ’90s, at just 16 years old, Mrs Carvalho traveled to the US for a one-year exchange program in Colorado. She became close with her host family during this time, so when she had the chance to return to the US again for college, she chose Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., to be close with the same family. She then transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned a BS in business administration and international business in 2003. Thereafter, she went on to the school’s graduate program, after which she joined NOV as part of its Next Generation Leadership Program. “I remember visiting a land rig for the first time in the program,” she said. “When I walked onto the rig and saw how many people there were, I got an immense sense of pride knowing that I was going to be a part of all this.”
After completing the year-long program and receiving training in different parts of NOV, Mrs Carvalho began an assignment in Brazil as a Sales and Marketing Supervisor. Her responsibilities included managing projects, contracts and major accounts, as well as coordinating sales and marketing activities, customer relations and product training. “That was the first time I was an adult in my own country,” she said. “I learned a lot about how to deal with people and customers.”
In 2011, she was promoted to On-Site Solutions Director – Corporate in Rio de Janeiro. In this position, she was responsible for building NOV’s relationship with Petrobras by communicating NOV strategies and plans. “I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time to have had that experience of working with each business unit hand-in-hand,” she explained.
In Mrs Carvalho’s current position as NOV’s Regional Sales Manager for Latin America, she leads sales and aftermarket initiatives for the land side of the South American market.
She’s also opening a new part of her career by becoming more active with IADC. Earlier this year, she was elected as Vice Chair of Associates for the newly created IADC Latin America Chapter, representing IADC’s associate members at chapter meetings. The chapter aims to promote best practices in operational efficiency, environmental protection and safety. “IADC already has a big presence in Brazil, but having a Latin America Chapter is going to help the industry a lot in this whole region. This is just the beginning – I’m very excited about what the chapter will accomplish in the coming years.” DC