Transocean Draws from Diverse Backgrounds
As a multifaceted global drilling contractor, Transocean values and relies on contributions from a diverse workforce. One of those individuals who helps to make the company an offshore leader is military veteran Alison Johnson.
In her five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, Johnson developed procurement and negotiation skills to support operations in Iraq and Libya. Now, as a senior manager in Transocean’s Marketing Strategy and Planning unit, she transfers her contracting know-how to a civilian setting.
“Upon my separation from the Air Force, I joined industry through a military transition program through which I shifted from the procurement path I had in the Air Force to sales and account management, a move through which I built relationships with many of our customers including Transocean,” said Johnson. “The opportunity to join Transocean was very exciting and one where I felt I could have a meaningful contribution while also building my competence in industry.”
When Johnson joined Transocean in 2017, the U.S. Air Force Academy graduate discovered the expertise she gained in uniform quickly paid off for the company.
“During my first year at Transocean, I negotiated a large multi-year agreement to provide drilling services that enable development of highly pressured reservoirs,” Johnson said, who currently specializes in global market analysis, executive management support and business planning. “In the Air Force, negotiation was a significant part of my responsibility in the contracting process. Also, a large portion of my time was spent working with multifunctional teams. That remains true today.”
During her tenure with Transocean, Johnson has experienced the volatility inherent in the offshore sector. She has also witnessed the far-reaching impact of making a deal with a client.
“Each time we sign a contract we either extend the operations of a working vessel or put an idle or stacked unit back to work,” Johnson said. “I came into industry in 2013, just in time to see the phenomenal downward spiral in oil prices and causal effect that had on industry, including many friends. It’s very fulfilling to be in a position to help secure work that has a direct positive effect on the lives of many people.”
As Transocean’s Director of Operations for the Gulf of Mexico, Keith Miller witnesses that positive effect first-hand. He noted that expectations are consistent at every level of the drilling contractor’s global workforce.
“The company sets out its core values and lives by them,” Miller said. “This is no different whether you are working on the rig floor or sitting in an office. The expectations are the same, and as a company we put our money where our mouth is.”
Miller observed that various factors are contributing to turnover of junior positions at Transocean. He pointed out that turnover translates into an opportunity for women to pursue roles offshore.
“We are bringing females in now as roustabouts and engineers, something we didn’t normally do in the past,” he explained. “This is on top of the regular female positions which normally are around Transocean’s Marine department.”
Transocean also offers growth opportunities to its employees. Alana Anderson, Chief Mate on the Deepwater Proteus drillship, is a case in point. An 11-year offshore oil and gas industry veteran, Anderson has built her career with stints as a Deck Mate, Dynamic Positioning Operator (DPO) and now Chief Mate. She aspires to work her way up to Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) – captain of a drilling unit.
“My job consists of the maintenance and upkeep of the vessel, its safety systems and all lifting gear onboard,” said Anderson. “I am the on-scene major incident commander (OSMIC) for all emergency response onboard and the second-in-command in the hierarchy.”
Anderson added that her responsibilities include serving as OIM designee on the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. Furthermore, she ensures that the Transocean vessel remains within the standards of class (DNV GL), flag (Marshall Islands) and Transocean policy.
“I really enjoy the fire drills and getting my hands dirty again after all the time I spent on the bridge,” Anderson noted. “Working with my emergency response teams to plan and execute response drills really energizes me.”
What Anderson finds most exciting about her job nowadays is a safety project to change out fallwires on the drillship.
“These wires are used to deploy our lifeboats,” she explained. “Coordinating all the moving parts from start to finish – from collecting measurements to managing service providers – and getting to see that manifest into a finished product will be one of the most rewarding parts of my career to date.”
Keys to Success
Miller pointed out that succeeding in an offshore role demands adaptability and a strong work ethic.
“It is a full team effort to make it work, and every crew member is an important part of that team,” he said. “You also need to be independent to work in that environment.”
To be sure, Miller observed that a employee’s support network contributes to his or her success offshore.
“Lastly and most importantly, you need the support from your family and loved ones,” Miller said. “Leaving your home and family just a couple of days before Thanksgiving or Christmas needs a strong family bond to make it work. The good thing is, when you have completed your three-week hitch, you are coming home for some quality family time.”
Miller added that Transocean offers its employees a variety of training and development programs, identifying high-potential workers and offering opportunities for accelerated upward mobility and licensing advancement support.
“We also have a Management Program where we will take in the right candidate and push them through their offshore development to be ready to take on a senior supervisory position,” Miller said.
Anderson concurs with Miller’s assessment, noting that she advanced in her career by striving to achieve the next tier of responsibility.
“You have to be a bit of a self-starter in any position offshore,” Anderson said, adding that on-the-job training presents ready opportunities to cross-train and set the next career goal.
“Another benefit of cross-training is working with the crew and establishing cross-functional relationships early, which contribute to a successful transition,” commented Anderson. “Of course, before jumping into cross-training, make sure that your current responsibilities are met, but the growth opportunities remain open to you.”
Speaking from her own experience, Johnson complimented the offshore industry for treating veterans as a resource.
“Our industry does a fantastic job recognizing and capitalizing on the military veteran talent pool,” she said. “As a veteran at Transocean, I feel my military service is valued every day. I’m grateful to work for a company that understands the benefits of employing veterans and actively seeks to engage and retain military talent.”
In a sector as cyclical as offshore drilling, Transocean maintains a focus on pursuing world-class opportunities for its workforce, commented Miller, who has spent 26 years of his 36-year career with Transocean.
“Although we have not been immune to the current downturn in the offshore drilling space, I do believe we’ve done as much as possible to keep the best people employed and be ready for the upturn, which must come at some point,” Miller said.
For Anderson, who could apply her skill set at a number of firms, Transocean is her employer of choice.
“I have enjoyed my time out on the water for Transocean,” she concludes. “The role of chief mate is available at many different companies, but the people, the schedule and the money are what keep me coming back to Transocean.”