Breaking the glass ceiling: Petrofac’s female Board Directors share insights

More than 60 of Petrofac’s talented women engineers joined three female Board Directors for a candid discussion to mark International Women in Engineering Day (INWED).

Non-executive Directors Sara Akbar, Andrea Abt, and Francesca Di Carlo spoke openly about issues such as the impact of ‘Imposter Syndrome’, juggling a work/life balance, and breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ during a virtual coffee break organised for our female engineers.

They also shared advice on the importance of mentoring and shadowing initiatives, which they all agreed is the most effective way to ensure women in engineering flourish and to also develop a leadership pipeline.

Anna Douglas, Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager, and Lakshmi Venkatesh, General Manager of our Mumbai office, hosted the event. “What impressed me was how down to earth the Board members were,” said Lakshmi. “They shared their experiences freely, not hiding where they went wrong when they were young and how they managed the circumstances. This created the right atmosphere where everyone on the call felt connected, even though they were located across different continents.”

"They shared their experiences freely, not hiding where they went wrong when they were young and how they managed the circumstances"

A number of searching questions were put to the trio during a lively Q&A session, with questions ranging from “what are the necessary leadership qualities and assertive skills required by a female manager?”, to “what is being done by our industry to aid and develop female engineers to higher positions?”. Each Board Director shared valuable insights with the audience, based on their extensive experience across a number of roles and industries.

Smith Unnikrishnan attended the coffee break and thanked Sara, Andrea and Francesca at the end of the discussion. She commented: “This was one of the most inspiring sessions that I have participated in. It has really motivated me to stay focused in my journey and not to give up. The three key words – resilient, calm and persistent.”

“To be able to celebrate INWED with our three female Board members was truly inspirational,” adds Anna. “I found the session invaluable and very engaging for all women who will benefit from their wise words. By creating forums like this, we can learn from and support each other which is a key strand to our diversity and inclusion journey. I am looking forward to having more of these sessions in the future.”