In order to work in oil & gas world is not an easy task. Very stringent requirements are always on the agenda. Not a typical candidates may try their luck in a very remote, hazardous and lonesome environment to name a few.
We have been give an opportunity to interview Ms Juhanis Johari about his roles as a Mudlogging Analyst for one of reputable multinational company. Below are the details of her interview in TuahJebat.
How do you manage to penetrate into oil & gas industry?
It all started when I got B4 for my Biology in SPM, so I couldn’t continue my dream career as a doctor. Well at least I thought so. To be honest, like any other 17 years old kid, I have no idea what I want to do in the future. Since that time being a doctor seems popular, I just follow the flow. But yeah, B4 for Biology, no medical study then. I was struggling of what I was going to do, so I just applied all the scholarships and alhamdulillah I have been selected to receive scholarship by Petronas in Applied Geology. On that time, you just relieve to get this scholarship because they said you will definitely get a decent career with Petronas. You just laugh at your 17 year old you because it wasn’t true.
So they sent me to Curtin University of Technology Sarawak to study Applied Geology. On that time I feed my mind that I am going to be a Geologist and I think it was pretty cool. We learn about rocks, earthquake, minerals, volcanoes and etc. Starting from 3rd year, we focus more on Petroleum Geology. It was hard and I am struggling a bit on that time (I failed 2 of the subjects and couldn’t graduate on time) but I still manage to graduate from university when I was 21 years old (hell yeah!).
So as my pointer was not good enough for Petronas to offer me a job, they just release my contract. I have to pay back the scholarship but it’s not much though, only 5% of total scholarship the have had sponsored me. So even though my dream to work at KLCC seems not possible on that time, I didn’t give up. I applied to so many other O&G companies and only just managed 2 of the companies from my applications being shorlisted. After going through both interviews, only my former company offer me a job as a mudlogger and I was pretty much excited to get the job. I did my homework about the mudlogger role and I believe that I was up to work at offshore.
What does it take to penetrate into this field?
Determination, never give up and strong heart. Suitable Diploma & Degree will make it easier to penetrate into this field but if you have the determination, even you just finish your SPM you can penetrate into this field. In my 4 years into this field, I have met a lot of people and I learned that anything if possible if you have the patience and determination.
What made you choose this field?
As a Bachelor of Applied Geology student, I can choose to be a part of mining industry, archaeologist, hydrology and many more choices but in the end, I chose oil and gas. Why? Because I like to challenge myself. I was pretty much didn’t know how the environment of working at offshore, but the mystery excites me. Of course, when I got the job I did my homework and asked people around. But they say you never feel it if you didn’t experience it. So, I chose a challenging field.
What should recent graduates have to stay competitive in order to penetrate into this field?
Good grades and good attitude. You need to have a very strong heart and never ever give up. There will be a lot of people to make sure you go down (trust me, in this field, people just be so selfish and they just want to save their own asses most of the time). But you just need to chin up and proof yourself to them. And you need to have passion in this field. The struggle is real and the pressure come all over the angle. So with passion, your willpower will rise up to go to the top.
How about working environment of your company?
I worked with company G (not a real name). In 2010, company G was bought by Company S. And now it is known and ‘G, a subsidiary of S company.’ My mudlogging department consist of multinational races. I worked with a lot of people from all around the world. In my mudlogging department, specifically is dominated by group A people (I don’t want to mention it because I don’t want to be label as a racist person haha). I am not racist but we all know sometimes the attitude of the person is because from where they are from.
So, most of them are my superior because before company S bought by the company G, Group A covered Asia region. Less than 10 persons were from Malaysia. So, after Company S bought it, they started to hire Malaysian people more.
It was hard working with Group A people. Most of them are bossy and hard to accept other people opinions. They always think that they are the best among all. And when they made a mistake, they never admit it and they always try to spin the story so that it didn’t seem as their fault. Most of the time, they will blame other people even though it is clearly their fault. They like to show off in front of bosses that they are good even other people actually did the work. I once had an argument with one of them because I had enough and stand for the truth. But not all of them like that. They are some of them that are actually nice and good to work with.
The reason I tell you this is not because I want to show the world how bad they are, but to make young graduates to realise that they will meet all kind of people like this when they started their working life. So you need to prepare yourself in this challenging world.
What sort of challenges to be anticipate from this field?
I’ll be more specific. Challenges for women in this field. Well first of all, you must know and expected, that offshore life is dominated by men. So, to be a minority is not surprising at all. On an oil rig, it can accommodate around 100-150 people at one time. But usually only 1 to 2 people from that amount are women and the most that I have known are 6 to 7 women on an oil rig. I still remember it was at a tender rig and there were 5 of us(ladies). And it feel like Hari Raya everyday. We were conquering the galley gossiping and laughing at everything!
Sexual harassment? Of course, there is. But you just have to know how to take care of yourself. Don’t be too friendly, they might get a wrong idea. But don’t be so arrogant. Working at an oil rig means you need a lot of teamwork. If you such a big headed person, they won’t help you any ways and this will make it harder for you. Sexual harassment come in a lot of ways, whether it is verbal or physical. But, you must know that people in offshore always ‘Gurau kasar’. So you need a strong heart and pretend to laugh or just ignored them. But, you know when it gets over, or you get physical, you can just report it to your superior. They take this matter seriously. That guy, will get kicked off and banned from the rig.
Does it worth your time to invest your time in this so called isolated workplaces?
Totally worth it. Isolated workplace? Well, we have technology. We have internet but its quite limited, but still be able to connect with your families and friends. They are just one call away, even though you need to queue up to use the phone. At least better than nothing, right? Oh of course, we don’t have shopping complex here. No salon, library, no cinemas, no bowling to name a few. If you call it isolated places because it don’t have theses stuffs then yeah. Well, you can bring your own book to read, you can bring your special shampoo or hair mask to do your own spa, you can bring your own laptop and a hard disk full with movies and series. Or you can just be friend with people at the rig and socialise, in a good way.
You will meet a lot of different kind of people from all over the world. It is more than just enhance your communication skills. You will meet some nice people and some douchebag. But, that’s what make you learn a lot in life. You will be inspired when meeting some awesome people, and you can be grateful of your life talking to miserable people. Next thing you know, you are one step of matureness every time you came back from offshore. Because you will always learn new things.
How do you manage your seasick, homesick while working in remote area (offshore)?
Of course it wasn’t easy. Homesick is common even you have been in this field for 10 years. To be honest with you, I felt sick in my stomach a week before I had to travel. I started to feel sick, moody and when it gets nearer to the traveling day, I look like I am going to turn into blue. Before it get worse, my husband just get me an expensive chocolate ice cream and I will be fine. At least for a while. Haha.
Travelling day is the worse. I felt like I can’t even move my feet when I was in front of the gate. When it happens, I just shake my head and told myself that I need to be strong and think what I am doing is for my family.
Once I reached the oil rig, I switch on my work mode and everything seems to be fine. Plus, I consider all my friends at the rig as my family.
What type of university subjects worth to pay attention in order to excel in this field?
Petroleum geology, petroleum engineering, any geology field, any engineering field.
Should they (recent graduates) demand MYR 6 500 as starting salary considering involving time bomb environment. If not what is the most appropriate salary band?
No, they shouldn’t. If I am the interviewe, I will slap that fresh grad on the face because they are being such a brat. Ok just kidding (but I am actually quite serious. Haha).
Usually in oil and gas company, they will offer you a low basic salary but they will offer an amount for offshore allowance. It is fair enough because only when you are offshore then you are in a time bomb environment. Plus, they do cover with good insurance for people working offshore.
I personally think that fresh graduate shouldn’t be too demanding for their first salary. MYR 6 500 is only deserve by experience candidate for their experience and expertise. I am suggesting that fresh grad to do their homework before going to any interviews and be demanding. Fresh graduate, never put money as your aim, but rather aim for knowledge and experience because they will pay you a lot for expertise you will have in the future.
Your advice and recommendation to young generation.
If you want it, just go for it. It was a great experience to be working offshore. Yes, you will face a lot of challenge and the challenge will get harder and harder. But never let the challenge push you down, but make it as a platform to raise you up. It is OK to fall down as long as you have the guts to rise back up.
Lastly, don’t be such a brat and be too demanding.
We would like to express our gratitude to Ms Juhanis for her thoughtful engaging session. Hopefully young mind in Malaysia may keep a note on her advises.