This is what I learned on the first day of the Women Offshore Virtual Conference.

On October 2nd, I attended day one of the Women Offshore Conference. I had a notebook and pen ready to take notes as I waited for the conference to start on Zoom. I couldn’t wait to hear what Liz Schwarze, VP of Global Exploration at Chevron Upstream, and Admiral Mark Buzby, US Maritime Administrator, had to say. The speakers in the line up were many that I have admired for years.

Throughout the day I attended sessions focused on how oil companies are navigating uncertainty in 2020, work-life balance, and imposter syndrome. While nearly 300 attendees could not meet in person, it quickly became clear that today would be a great day to extend my network virtually. I took notes throughout the day, and here are some things I picked up on that I want to share.

On Authentic Leadership: 

  • The person who can solve conflict is even more valuable than the person who can avoid or diffuse it. Also: to be vulnerable is the most relatable quality. It is the essence of being human. The strength to show it inspires others to follow. Authentic leaders are those who inspire others to follow, not those who command subservience.
  • Investing in others in just as important as investing yourself. Being purpose driven shows others a path that they can follow in order to improve themselves, thus improving the team as a working unit.

On Navigating Relationships While Offshore

  • Communication is key. Talking to your significant others is obviously important. But finding things to do together over the phone or internet provides a platform for relating to each other, as well as a source of things to communicate about. This might seem silly, but the most successful relationships are with people who grow together.
  • Managing expectations is even key-er. Choose your battles, otherwise you might find yourself disappointed more often than satisfied. 

 You Are Not An Imposter

  • Women and men experience this! Finally, we’re in the same boat about some insecurities. Pun intended. This isn’t necessarily a positive takeaway, but it’s something I learned, and it helps me to feel less alone in insecurity. When we feel less alone, we can become more adept at helping others.
  • What you choose to believe about confidence can greatly frame how you see yourself. “What if your belief was that asking questions is one of the reasons I’ve been so successful?” This hit me like a Mac truck, and I’ve never been so thrilled to be proverbially hit by a truck. Flipping the belief about yourself or your insecurities on its head might be one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned.

How Oil Companies Navigate Uncertainty

  • As with most things in life, adaptation is key. But the degree of adaptation required this year has been unprecedented. Resiliency training has been an increasingly popular within companies. I feel this year calls for many of us to do some personal resiliency training.
  • Having people see the real you in your home office through zoom has been liberating for some. I never thought that people seeing me in home clothes would feel like a strength, but I’m starting to see that what this year has forced in us is to develop our humanity. Understanding others better, from the personal all the way to professional struggles, affords us the empathy to support each other better, help each other grow, strive, and thrive.

Lastly, there were some very personal things I got out if it: I often struggle with growing up in this particular time in history feeling that technology separates us. The effect of this virtual conference experience was the opposite of what I originally expected, and astoundingly so. Everyone seemed more obliged and comfortable participating in panel discussions. The breakout sessions were some of the most valuable experiences, as I connected with old friends, and made new ones, being prompted not to just stare at their faces on a screen, but to get to know them. Not having to put on business attire was the sweet cherry on top.

Julie Schaeffer
About The Author: Julie Schaeffer

Julie Schaeffer is a graduate of California Maritime Academy and holds a USCG unlimited 3rd mate license. Growing up sailing and boating imbued her with an early and deep passion for being on the water. In her free time, Julie cycles and volunteers with dogs. Her other loves are cooking, making people laugh, writing, scotch, horses, and senior doggies.

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