Project Training Manager

First-rate training on a world-class project

We caught up with Teresa Rodriguez during her time away from the OQ8 refinery project in Oman where she is plying her trade as a Project Training Manager. Speaking to her while on-site would be significantly more difficult, given that she is dedicating most of her time to ensuring people that will one day be operating the facilities Petrofac is building are trained to the highest standard.

Among people working on the project, OQ8 refinery is sometimes referred to simply as DUQM (representing the Omani port town on the Arabian Sea, some 600km south of Muscat). But there is nothing ‘simple’ about one of the most ambitious projects in the Middle East. The world-class project requires best people to deliver their finest work at every level. It needs people like Teresa.

Teresa, before we discuss the OQ8 refinery project in more detail, can you tell us about your beginnings at Petrofac?

My job interview just happened to be on my birthday, in January 2012. Shortly after, I have started as a Career Development Specialist, creating training plans for both expats and UAE nationals at Petrofac. After a year, I was assigned to the Upper Zakum UZ750 project, where I have spent the next five years training more than 160 people, both during the engineering phase and the fabrication yards phase. When the project was completed, I have worked on two shorter assignments – first, working in recruitment and then at Petrofac Academy where I was managing the leadership programme.

Teresa, a proud Venezuelan, has been with Petrofac for more than 10 years

When did you first hear about the DUQM project?

It started with a chance encounter in 2019. I was in our Sharjah office, on my way to our ground-floor cafeteria, when I ran into a project manager that I knew, and he was the first one that told me about the project. When I have done more research, including a breakdown on the project from a colleague, I was scheduled for an interview with the Deputy Project Director, and finally an interview with the client. A week later a letter from the client arrived, approving my CV and my credentials and I have been on the DUQM project ever since.

Being a woman in a masculine environment is challenging. I am the only lady manager at DUQM and there is no room for error.
Teresa Rodriguez Project Training Manager

Can you tell us more about your role on the project?

Together with my team I manage and coordinate the training of our client’s personnel, ensuring that they are capable and equipped with knowledge to safely operate the plants we are building. Whatever equipment we are installing – boilers, compressors, pumps – the client will end up running the facilities. It is our job to make sure they get the proper training. It involves working with various vendors, ensuring people get the training they need while still being able to fulfil their shifts. It includes complex planning without room for error.

How many people have you trained so far?

Some 68 people in operations and 47 people in maintenance, more than half of them Omani nationals.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging?

Being a woman in a masculine environment is challenging. I am the only lady manager at DUQM and there is no room for error.

Does being one of the rare female colleagues on-site pose a problem for you?

No, I love it, and I am very passionate about my job.

How do you think we can get more women involved in on-site work and working directly on projects?

Looking past the cultural barriers, we need to start with ‘baby steps’. A week or two, shorter assignments, to make it more attractive. Explain that this will provide exposure and career opportunities like no other, and the thrill of seeing what you are designing in action.

In her free time, Teresa is a resin artist*

Given that your job is very people-oriented, is there a situation you can remember where your role or guidance made the difference?

At the Upper Zakum UZ750 project, there was a young Emirati who was assigned to Process. He approached me one day and said: ‘Teresa, I don’t like Process; I am not passionate about it’ and he insisted he wants to be in Quality Control. I decided to try and help him. It wasn’t easy to get his competency manager to understand why the change would be good, but we put the facts together and presented the case, and eventually transferred him. I have seen him years later and he told me: ‘I am still in Quality. Thank you for your advice and everything you did for me’. That is one of the examples I enjoy remembering.

Finally, in addition to your family, what else keeps you occupied outside of your work? Anything people would be surprised with?

I am a resin artist.

We will need to google that, and we would very much like to see some pictures. *

*Teresa did provide pictures as you can see in the article. Also, according to Google: ‘resin art is created when a runny chemical called epoxy resin is combined with various colour pigments and additives to produce a blend of unique patterns and textures’. Saved you a search.