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Top Advice for Recent Hires From Women Who Are Rocking Their Careers

Navigating the workplace as a young woman in engineering can be challenging. Often being the only woman in the room, especially during my time in the field, I had to deal with gender stereotyping that still happens in the oil and gas industry. In those moments, when I second-guessed my intelligence and my ability to excel in a male-dominated industry, I yearned to have role models from whom I could draw inspiration, confidence, and mentoring.

I am a firm believer that only we need to be in the driver’s seat of our career. But I also believe that having the right support and mentoring during the early stages of our job can tremendously shorten our path to professional success. 

I asked ten women engineers who are rocking their careers to share their best advice for women engineers who are just starting. Many of them draw upon their experience in the oil and gas industry, where they faced similar challenges with diversity and feelings of being out of the group. Now these ladies are breaking the barriers and are at the top of their game, and so can you.

Nur Faizah, Completions Project Engineer

“You will love it! Make your work life fun, and you will enjoy it. You’ll find a lot of inspiring people and great friends. The great part is, in today’s world, there is no difference between a man and a woman field engineer. You are equally measured by your performance, as long as you choose the right company that values gender diversity.”

Sheila Onyekwere, Automation & Robotics Engineer

“The greatest advice I can give to a female engineer who is just starting is not to be afraid to express yourself. In a male-dominated field, it is easy to shelter your ideas and findings because of the perception you may have of yourself. In the work environment, don’t feel inferior being the only female in the room, but make your presence known by your performance. Gender is not a measure of success in your career. What you can perform and deliver will be your identity.”

Diana Higuera, Product Line Manager

“You might not realize that you are making a difference for all women and women engineers in the world, what you have achieved so far is exceptional, and you as a role model have the responsibility to continue learning, growing, and supporting the next generation. Build your support network, including the ones that help you grow professionally: your mentors, family members, friends, your mentees, and other leaders. Also, don’t forget to add to your network people who might have a different way of thinking – you will learn a lot from them too.”

Elizabeth Cambre, Director of Production Enhancement

“Don’t try to navigate your early years in the industry alone. Find a mentor. It can make all the difference.”

Nazneen Ahmed, MBA Candidate (previously Proposal Engineer)

“Anything you design, go out and see it in real life. Put on your hard hat, don those coveralls and lace up your steel-toed boots to go meet the field crew, because there is nothing quite like seeing your project come to life. Also, get involved with a professional chapter to connect with mentors outside your organization. It will increase your world view and allow you to explore career options.”

Andrea Course, Venture Principal

“The best career advice I can give a young female engineer is to never be afraid to speak up. It’s okay to ask questions even if you think they are basic. If you want a new job or an opportunity to do something new, be confident and ask for it.”

Maria Tafur, Mechanical Engineer

“My best career advice to recent graduates in engineering is: be nice and be curious.

  • Being nice will get you places. You don’t have to be brilliant, pretty, rich, lucky, or have any of that superficiality to flourish. Just try to be gentle as much as you can; you’ll see how the “planets start aligning in your favor.”
  • Being curious will fuel your growth. Unfortunately, your diploma doesn’t make you a better engineer, so ask, read (a lot), don’t assume, don’t think you know, and don’t be afraid of not knowing. Even if you feel lost, inexperienced, or dumb, make an effort to learn and participate. Remember that asking questions counts as help too. And if you’re shy to speak up in a meeting, send an email or ask for a one-to-one session. 

Also, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy life.” 

Jagruti Mehta, Project Manager Research & Development

“I would encourage young women engineers to be not afraid to take risks initially. They should be open to new ideas and be ready to speak up to put their views forward. Also, to not put undue pressure on themselves. Enjoy their work and do their best.”

Paola Alejandra Perez Peña, Senior Associate, Principal Research Analyst 

“Learn to express your ideas clearly and learn to always support your ideas with facts and data; these skills will help you gain credibility in an industry where women’s opinions are often overlooked. Don’t be intimidated for thinking differently and working hard; let your work speak for itself.”

Massiel Diez, Sales Engineer & co-founder of Flipping the Barrel podcast


“Girl, do NOT give up when times get hard! I promise, in the end, all the sacrifice will be worth it. Don’t ever underestimate how great you truly are, and do not ever let others dim your light. It’s okay not to fit in and be different! Embrace it; it’s what’s going to get you to the next level.”

Key Takeaway

As I read through the excellent advice given by these ten amazing women I interviewed, I saw a common theme that I hope you take away from this article: “Be authentic. Seek mentoring. Continue learning. Have fun.”

Finally, I want to wrap up with a piece of advice that has worked very well in my career and is illustrated beautifully in my son’s book Curious George:

Be curious. Be open to learning new things, meeting new people, and working in functions that push you out of your comfort zone. The path to success doesn’t have to be linear. It is OK to do a little zigzag as you climb up the corporate ladder as long as you are collecting new skills on the way. And most importantly, pour your passion into whatever you do. It is the only way to build meaningful relationships that later help accelerate your career.

This article was originally published on the author’s website pinkcareers.com.


Richa Bansal is an engineering manager for Schlumberger’s Flow Control technology group in Houston. She has experience working in deepwater operations, new product development, supply chain, and most recently, in engineering management. In her current role, she oversees a global team to support production, sustenance, and engineering customization of Schlumberger’s commercial portfolio of downhole flow control valves. Bansal is the author of several articles, conference papers, a book chapter, and a technology patent. Bansal holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Rice University. She is the founder of www.pinkcareers.com, an online resource for young women in STEM who want to rise to positions of leadership.

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