“It all happened, quite by chance, over a fish dinner.”
This is how Patty Eid, Group Head of Petrofac Training Services, describes her introduction to Petrofac, a little over a decade ago.
Patty was visiting the Middle East from her home in Canada to interview for a job with a Doha-based oil and gas giant. She was very keen on the role, the interviews had all gone well, and she was eager to escape the harsh Canadian winters. Then, after snatching a week’s holiday in Dubai, she met for dinner with a contact, who also happened to be a recruiter for Petrofac, and this was the first time she remembers hearing the company’s name.
Although successful in the Doha recruitment process, she was ultimately unsuccessful in the visa application process. So, with her heart set on a move, she decided to find out a little more about this company called Petrofac, and got back in touch with her contact.
Things moved quickly and smoothly. And, after a round of interviews, she landed a job in Sharjah as a legal advisor. Clearly, it was a pivotal moment in Patty’s life.
“I adored the company from day one,” she explains. “I loved the energy, the passion, and the drive. I also adored the work. If you put in the commitment at this company, you will be able to achieve great things.
“It was as though everything that had happened in my life up until that point was preparing me for my journey at Petrofac,” continues Patty.
In fact, her early years sound like the storyline from a movie, and have clearly shaped her matter-of-fact world view, as well as her approach to work. But, before we get into any details, it is worth quickly reviewing Patty’s current role, and the way the training business creates value for the wider company.
WORDS PETER HALLIDAY
IMAGES CHRISTOPHE VISEUX
PUBLISHED MARCH 2020
GROUP HEAD OF PETROFAC TRAINING SERVICES PATTY EID HAS BEEN WITH PETROFAC SINCE 2008. SHE TALKS TO PETROFACTS ABOUT THE VALUE THE TRAINING BUSINESS CREATES. SHE ALSO GIVES HER PERSPECTIVE ON THE QUESTION OF DIVERSITY
Petrofac Training Services: a disproportionate impact on the wider business
“Petrofac Training Services (PTS) is a smaller part of the business,” explains Patty. “But it has a disproportionate impact.
“PTS has been getting people home safely for more than 40 years. It is also a core capability of the Petrofac Group. We offer a broad portfolio of industry-accredited oil, gas and renewable energy training, and our facilities include Europe’s largest fire training ground, the UK’s first ever Emergency Response Service Centre, and a range of state-of-the-art technical training centres. The journey isn’t over yet, we’re accelerating competency and learning through technology.”
A great example is the Takatuf Petrofac Oman (TPO) technical training centre, which is helping to accelerate the development of young Omanis – and provide the Sultanate’s energy industries with a steady supply of well-qualified, job-ready, skilled graduates.
“It’s an incredible facility,” continues Patty. “You see wide-eyed young people arrive, who are not fluent in English. Then, in the space of just two years, they are highly competent, fluent not just in English but in technical English, and skilled enough to go out and operate a plant.
“It’s a door-opener and a differentiator. It leads us into new markets and leaves a positive footprint behind us. Petrofac has always cared about delivering in-country value, and our training business builds real value – creating an ever-lasting social impact,” she says.
For the first few months in the role, Patty has been looking, listening and adapting. She has been to every location, meeting with employees, clients and also wider stakeholders, like government officials. Her next priority is to refine the strategy for the business, so that it reflects and supports the wider Petrofac strategy.
For example, there will be a more focused approach to helping the wider Group expand in more geographies and adjacent sectors, like petrochemicals and renewables.
“I adored the company from day one. I loved the energy, the passion, and the drive.”
A decade-long grounding in the inner workings of Petrofac
Prior to joining Petrofac Training Services, Patty had a decade-long grounding in the inner-workings of the Petrofac group.
From her beginnings as a young legal advisor, she moved to Abu Dhabi as Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary, before returning to Sharjah as Commercial Director for OCP and EPCm.
Although she cares passionately about the business, you shouldn’t get the impression that Patty is all-work-and-no-play. There’s a wry wit there, almost everything is said with a good-humoured smile. She also remains cheerfully convinced that, with a combination of passion, drive and perseverance, any challenge can be overcome.
This robust approach to work and life has clearly been shaped by Patty’s back-story.
A fascinating backstory, told in an intriguing way
Born in Beirut, she was the youngest of four children in a happy, well-to-do family. Then, at the age of nine, everything changed. Out-of-the-blue, her father, who managed a large chain of fine-dining restaurants, was kidnapped, tortured and held to ransom.
On his eventual release, the family fled to Canada, leaving everything behind, and ending up destitute in a small French-speaking city that was unaccustomed to immigrants. Unable to speak the language, her parents came across as unsophisticated people, with her father getting work washing dishes and her mother cleaning hotel rooms. Financially and emotionally, it was a real struggle.
Patty learned English by watching cartoons and studying children’s books. And, as she grew, she became more determined. With a focus on her studies, she earned scholarships to the University of Ottawa, and worked four part-time jobs to see her through her undergraduate studies in biochemistry before moving onto law school. She then joined the Canadian civil service, where she spent the first ten years of her career.
What is as interesting as the story itself, is the unguarded, matter-of-fact way that Patty tells it, and how she draws such obvious strength from it.
Diversity: imploring colleagues to speak-up and stand out
As you may expect, she also has a straight-talking view on the subject of diversity.
“Some people say I’m too assertive. Others say I’m bold,” laughs Patty. “That’s okay. Because, if I were a man, they would use the words ‘strong’, ‘confident’ and ‘ambitious’. It’s the same qualities, just a different way of describing them. So, I always take it as a compliment.”
Her advice to colleagues, irrespective of gender, comes down to passion and perseverance. “When you are tested,” she says, “or when you face difficult situations, you can always overcome them, but only with passion, drive and perseverance.”
But for women, she has some added words of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to speak up or voice your opinion. Never feel you are less important than anyone else. Be confident and carry yourself confidently.
“I’m not saying you should try to behave like a man or assume another identity. Always be true to yourself – but be sure to express yourself and sometimes be daring enough to think like a man while acting like a woman.”
Patty also believes that women have innate qualities that bring value to any business, and that this is being explicitly acknowledged by Petrofac. “We women are tuned a little differently. We can juggle a lot, and we excel at finding solutions. I love it that Petrofac is adding emphasis on diversity which is going to raise even more awareness. I would implore all women in the business to grab hold of this opportunity and take advantage.”
“Don’t be afraid to speak up or voice your opinion. Never feel you are less important than anyone else.”
TPO technical training centre