So Samantha, please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Samantha Doodnath, I am 26 years old and I have a BSc. Mechanical Engineering and currently pursuing my MSc. Engineering Management. I consider myself to be very family oriented so I do my best to spend time with my family whenever I get the chance; whether it’s watching TV, trying out new recipes with my mum or exploring new places in Trinidad with my boyfriend. I love learning about and trying new foods so I take every opportunity to explore different cultures and tastes. I also love travelling abroad but due to the pandemic that has been put on hold for now.
Can you tell us about your job and what it entails?
I am a Mechanical Technician Apprentice with one of Kenson Group’s clients, and I recently celebrated my one year anniversary. For me, this position was an introduction into what being a mechanical technician entails, which includes understanding the functionality of the equipment at the facility, maintenance of the equipment, and learning how to troubleshoot issues in order to bring the equipment back to 100% functionality. My job as an apprentice requires me to understand the client’s procedures and protocols, learn the different types of equipment on the facility, their functionalities, and what part each piece of equipment plays in the process it’s linked to. The apprenticeship was set up for us to get exposure working offshore and to work with the equipment involved in the oil and gas process, and to learn how to ensure minimum equipment failure/ breakdowns and minimum downtime.
How have you adjusted to work as a technician in the COVID 19 Pandemic?
It was tough in the beginning since we had to quarantine five days prior to site mobilization. The time spent at home was reduced to just one week so being away from my family for such a long period of time, especially as it was my first time spending that much time away from my family, was a challenge. However, I have to say thank God for social media and video calling; it made the time away bit easier and gave me a sense of comfort with all the Covid-19 protocols and efforts. As such, I was ok going back to my family knowing that my exposure level was minimal to none.
Now that I have been working for over a year, it’s more of a routine. We have also moved away from the quarantining, and I have my two weeks back when I’m home, so I’m grateful for that. With regards to safety, we still have our protocols in place which includes the required testing before going out to work and then a second test to confirm the negative stance.
What do you like most about your current position, and being a member of the Kenson Team?
I quite enjoy working as a Mechanical Technician apprentice offshore and being blessed with an opportunity that I didn’t think was possible for a woman. Now, I can experience first-hand, the operations of how oil and gas is produced and the process of how it is sold. I am now able to understand what I was taught during my degree and apply it in the field, which gives me a sense of accomplishment and has helped me to grow in the industry.
Being a part of the Kenson team is amazing; the staff is so welcoming and warm, and they are always willing to assist me with whatever issues I may have. Although I have only been here for a short period of time, they don’t make me feel any differently than a person who may have been employed for many years. I’m grateful for the opportunity that Kenson has given me and the assistance they provide to me whilst on my journey to grow in the industry.
What were some of your concerns coming into this industry, and how has Kenson made a space for you in the industry?
Being a young woman, fresh out of school, with a passion for mechanical engineering, one concern I had coming into the industry was if I would be good enough. I always had that doubt in my mind that I would be given a chance to air my ideas and concerns, and I also wondered whether I would get the help I needed if I asked, because I had so many things that were supposedly “going against me.”
Kenson took a step in the right direction, by hiring and giving us, as females, the opportunity to show that we are capable of making positive contributions to the industry. This step has given us the chance to help the industry grow and become better and more efficient.
Can you tell us more about your personal experience working in the industry?
When doing my degree, I was used to being part of the minority, with only 5% of the students being female. This helped to manage my expectations coming into this industry. There’s always an assumption that women don’t belong in this industry especially in the mechanical field; that it’s very labor intensive, that you need a lot of strength, or you need to be tall and broad, but that’s not my perspective. Being in this industry allows me to show what I can bring to the table, to break the bias and showcase that we as women do have a place in this industry.
At times it can be difficult, as people tend to not take your views and opinions on a task seriously. To me, that means that we have to push harder than everyone to prove our place in the industry and to get that mindset changed.
Are there any changes you would like to see in the industry, in terms of the working environment for women?
I would like to see a mindset change, to ensure that we are not seen as fragile or weaker; that women are able to bring ideas forward, and if these ideas can’t work, that we are given an explanation as to why, so that we can understand and learn from the experience.
What advice would you give to a woman coming into this industry?
I would say to her – don’t give up. Always keep pushing through to make your name known even when you feel there is no one in your corner. Sometimes things may be tough, and you will ask yourself if you really belong here and if this is what you really want to do, but just remember that you have already made it so far with all the criticism behind you. Once you believe in yourself and you’re proud of yourself for how far
you’ve come, there’s nothing standing in your way to excel more. If there are any negative behaviors shown to you, take it with a smile and don’t show them that it has affected you. Learn from the criticism and grow from it to become better.