The first Women Offshore UNITE Meet-Up was an incredible success! Transocean generously offered to host the meet-up in their Houston headquarters with women traveling from all over the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and Australia, to be a part of this groundbreaking two-day event. Women Offshore founder, Ally Cedeno led the conference of incredibly talented, strong female professionals. Collectively, the group had over 270 years of seagoing experience!

A Supportive Forum to Discuss Challenges

The conference kicked off with a panel discussing approaches to overcoming various offshore challenges. Women discussed key issues that they had faced in the workplace.  These issues were energetically followed up by many questions and comments from the audience, as everyone felt empowered to share their own experiences.

UNITE’s goal was to bring together a niche community of ladies who, typically find themselves isolated, and who have very little opportunity to interact with other female professionals in their work environment. Some of the first issues that were discussed dealt with gender discrimination and harassment that is, undoubtedly, something many woman face in any male dominated environment. Coming together allowed for an open forum to discuss these particular situations, share perspective and gain a clearer understanding of how to address such issues moving forward. A profound sense of support and direction was gained by all.

Opportunities in the Industry

Keelan Adamson, Senior VP of Operations at Transocean gave a presentation on how the company was making great gains to increase diversity within in their organization. The audience was asked to participate in giving input on how to encourage, attract, recruit and retain diverse talent for various offshore roles. 

During that conversation we had heard from a woman who started her career working offshore, and who then transitioned to the role of stay-at-home mom for several years as she started and raised her family. She then resumed her seagoing career as a DPO on oil rigs when her youngest was 2 years of age and has been working on a rotational schedule for Transcoean for the past 5 years. She discussed the difficulties and rewards that a seagoing career offered for a mother and how this career has worked in a positive way for her family dynamics.

She is a pioneer and a mentor to other women who may also be wondering how to strike the balance of working at sea after starting a family. Career development and careers ashore were also hot topics, as many of the attendees wanted to gain clarity on what job opportunities were available to them when considering the next step in their career.

Inspired by Grit & Wit

Captain Sherri Hickman captivated the entire group as she spoke about some unique encounters she had in her 24-year career as a Houston Pilot. Her class, her grit and her wit had everyone inspired and wanting to glean from the wisdom she shared with the confidence she exuded. Sherri has a wonderful sense of humor as there were many points during the recap of her own personal journey, that there was not a dry eye in the house as the gales of laughter erupted over and over. Captain Hickman is a woman on the water that truly inspired us all.

Aiming High to Achieve Goals

A panel on setting and reaching goals was held with women who had very diverse industry experience. The importance of aiming high and not being afraid to go after something really BIG, something maybe a little crazy or unprecedented, was emphasized. We also learned that, sometimes, the best satisfaction is gained from reaching seemingly intangible goals; maintaining a growth mindset, being a continual learner and working on contentment with the situation at hand. Goals don’t always have to be about getting the next license or promotion.  Growth of character is equally important.

Tools for Navigating Conflicts

Joan McLeod, CEO of Conflict Navigator, shared tactics for helping women ask, either personally or professionally, for what may be needed in their workplace. Her decades of work as a seafarer and Officer in the Canadian Coast Guard not only gave her first-hand understanding of the hurdles women face at sea, yet gave her the shareable tools to feel confident enough to have a bigger, stronger voice.

A Dinner to Remember

The first night concluded with a dinner in the Houston energy corridor, generously hosted by Transocean and Crowley Maritime. Renee Kilmczak, Managing Director at Alvarez and Marsal and Delfina Govia, Partner at Veritras Total Solutions addressed the group – the encouragement, laughter and empowerment kept flowing. Delfina had the room’s heads all nodding in agreement as she pointed out that, “We have put a man on the moon yet we are just now, finally, making coveralls that actually fit women!” The dinner was a great opportunity to network and connect on a deeper level with other men and women in attendance.

The Power of the MentorSHIP

Day two kicked off with a presentation by Ally Cedeno on the Power of MentorSHIP. She discussed the recent launch of the official mentoring program, pairing cadets and women who are early on in their careers, with the more seasoned female professionals. The importance of mentoring was emphasized as an invaluable tool to help expose women in the industry to others who can help elevate, encourage and guide them in their chosen career paths.


An Interactive Workshop

The conference closed with an interactive workshop by Erica D’Eramo, CEO of Two Piers Consulting, in which she addressed how to handle challenging encounters in the workplace with interactive group activities. Ericka discussed how our individual life experiences shaped the way we perceived others comments and interactions. Ericka had prepared a live survey in which the attendees voted for various responses on their cellphone, and subsequently, how they perceived various comments made in the workplace. The results were confidently displayed on the screen and it was enlightening to see how diverse the responses were, from just inside those four walls of the event space.  Ericka provided tactics and tools to help address uncomfortable encounters. The attendees learned that even if you are unable to address a problem in the moment (perhaps for lack of knowing how to respond), that it is perfectly acceptable to collect yourself, come back later and address it at a time when you have better clarity of thought, and are in a better frame of mind to respond.

See YOU Next Year!

UNITE was a wonderful experience and held such a wide range of offshore professionals from original pioneers to the younger rising stars. Everyone came away with powerful tools to succeed in their careers. Planning for next the 2019 UNITE meet-up is already underway and anticipated attendance is even greater!

Please look out for more information on UNITE 2019 in the months to come!

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Thank you to Laine Butler for designing our gift mugs.

Women Offshore

About The Author: Women Offshore

The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: [email protected].

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