Saba­han mother works in male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - HOME - By Mariah Dok­sil

MANY may won­der how a lov­ing mother would choose to leave her chil­dren and fam­ily be­hind to pur­sue a ca­reer in a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try.

How­ever, the need to fur­ther one’s ca­reer and sup­ple­ment the fam­ily in­come of­ten leaves women with no choice but to en­gage in a tricky bal­anc­ing act.

Ver­a­lyn Mar­cie Is­mail, a 32year-old Saba­han mother work­ing with Sabah Shell Pe­tro­leum Com­pany Lim­ited, only trav­els back to her fam­ily every two weeks.

She is cur­rently an Off­shore Lo­gis­tics Co­or­di­na­tor in one of Shell’s plat­forms in Miri, Sarawak.

“I am nor­mally as­signed to pro­vide ef­fi­cient 24-hour tele­com ser­vices for SSB/SSPC off­shore lo­ca­tions. At times, I am away for two weeks or even a month de­pend­ing on how much work I have to do.

“It was not easy at first, as I need to learn from scratch. I was sent to at­tend a com­pre­hen­sive train­ing for two months, and started the job with very min­i­mum knowl­edge.

“I was strug­gling dur­ing my first year, work­ing on­shore and go­ing off­shore to­tally two dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments. How­ever, it was a fun and fruit­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. I made a lot of friends, and learn new cul­ture. Chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was awe­some. I love my job very much,” she said.

Ver­a­lyn, who is hold­ing a Diploma in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (Tele-Ed­u­ca­tion) from Mul­ti­me­dia Univer­sity, said there are a few fe­males on the plat­form.

They are en­gi­neers, oper­a­tion tech­ni­cian and even rig­ger.

How­ever, the num­ber of fe­male in a plat­form is still very low, most could be less than 10 per cent of the per­son­nel on board.

“Al­though many peo­ple think that women work­ing off­shore is rare, but it is ac­tu­ally not a new thing. I have met fe­male oper­a­tion tech­ni­cians that have worked off­shore for over ten years,” said Ver­a­lyn, who is cur­rently study­ing in Wawasan Open Univer­sity, tak­ing a Bach­e­lor of Business (Hons) in Lo­gis­tics and Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment.

Decades ago, women were se­ri­ously lim­ited in the fields they could en­ter be­cause of the prej­u­dice they would en­dure.

To­day, times have changed. Still though, women on an off­shore job should know what they are get­ting into.

No mat­ter how many women are ex­press­ing an in­ter­est in this job, there are not too many of them in the field.

The in­dus­try is heav­ily male­dom­i­nated, and a woman work­ing in the field might be the only fe­male on her team. For some women like Ver­a­lyn, this is not a prob­lem at all.

“I could work un­der pres­sure, up to the point that if I was sent to hell, I could live with it too.

“Be­ing off­shore or liv­ing with a hus­band or wife work­ing off­shore need a very high level of un­der­stand­ing and trust. A lot of re­la­tion­ship fails, in­clud­ing mar­riages.

“To me, my hus­band and fam­ily are like my back­bone of suc­cess in my ca­reer, es­pe­cially my par­entin-law fam­ily who is look­ing af­ter our only son, Isaac Bruno. He is stay­ing with my in-laws when we are not around, be­cause my hus­band is also work­ing with oil and gas in Labuan, on­shore base with four days on and off,” she said.

To Ver­lyn, Isaac is the most pre­cious gift in her life.

“Of course, I want to be a full­time housewife, prob­a­bly not the right time yet. We have a few bills to sort out. We don’t want to end up a bro­ken fam­ily due to failed fi­nan­cial plan­ning.

“We sat down to­gether with the fam­ily be­fore I com­mit my­self to work off­shore. Thanks to my un­der­stand­ing and sup­port­ive hus­band, Rath­nos Li­mon and fam­ily, so far, we man­aged to work this out with less has­sle.

“Imag­ine this, I work two weeks off­shore, and my hus­band works in Labuan four days on and off. Even I will be home in an­other two weeks, our time to­gether is very lim­ited. So, when my hus­band and I at home, we will use all the time spend­ing to­gether,” she said, adding that time man­age­ment is not only ap­ply­ing in her job, but in daily life too, as my time is quite dif­fer­ent from oth­ers.

To her, work­ing in a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try re­quires tough men­tal and phys­i­cal strength.

“If you are not tough enough to han­dle it, you might have ended stress­ing out man­ag­ing your fam­ily mat­ters. This is why you have to be men­tally strong,” she added.

In an off­shore life, safety is the top pri­or­ity.

They have standby ves­sel to mon­i­tor within 500 me­tres vicin­ity away from harm­ful threat and some works if re­quired.

“We have cater­ing crew who cook for us, jan­i­tors who clean our clothes and make our bed, medic who looks af­ter our health and med­i­ca­tion re­quire­ment in case of emer­gency, safety of­fice, en­gi­neers, ra­dio op­er­a­tor and many oth­ers.

“All are re­port­ing to the OIM - Off­shore In­stal­la­tion Man­ager, who is our fa­ther in off­shore. Each room has dou­ble bunk bed, some rooms have one bed for OIM and su­per­vi­sors. We have Astro, wifi and gym fa­cil­i­ties. Some say we are like liv­ing in a ho­tel,” she said gig­gling.

To­day, when peo­ple are still think­ing that women do not be­long to off­shore, Ver­a­lyn has proved that she can do it.

In fact, she en­cour­ages more women, es­pe­cially Saba­hans to take the op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially Sabah is plan­ning to de­velop its long-term oil and gas in­dus­try.

“My mes­sage to all the ladies out there, if you have the chance to work off­shore no mat­ter what would be your role is, just fol­low these three sim­ple steps in or­der to sur­vive.

“It is our Shell golden rules which I kept un­til to­day. Com­ply, in­ter­vene and re­spect, com­ply to any rules and reg­u­la­tions, in­ter­vene to any un­safe act or con­di­tion that need at­ten­tion and please re­spect any­one you meet.

“Work with pas­sion, be re­al­is­tic, prac­tise good team­work and you will en­joy your job. It can be off­shore, ev­ery­where. I al­ways love what I do, even I have no idea what will I be to­day. Be­cause you rep­re­sent your in­ner­self and no one will able to con­trol you,” she con­cluded.

Ver­a­lyn, a Saba­han mother work­ing for Sabah Shell Pe­tro­leum Com­pany Lim­ited off­shore.

Ver­a­lyn with her sup­port­ive hus­band Rath­nos Li­mon and their son Isaac Bruno.

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