Live Event: February 22, 2018 at 1:00pm Eastern (US)
Alison Johnson is a Manager of Technical Marketing at Transocean where she works with customers to provide offshore drilling services in deepwater and technically challenging environments. We asked her a few questions about herself and her STEM career to get to know her and her work a bit better before her live event.
Name: Alison Johnson
Title: Manager, Technical Marketing
Layman’s Title: Drilling Rig Sales
Years in this organization/position?
What does your organization do?
We provide offshore drilling services with high specification drilling vessels and specialized personnel for offshore exploration and development in deepwater and technically challenging environments.
What is your role in the organization?
I work with our customers to understand their requirements and articulate those across our organization to ensure we supply drilling services that meet or exceed operational specifications in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
What type of science, technology, engineering or math do you use in your career? And how often do you use them?
I use some form of STEM concept every day. Some days it’s simple math and engineering theory; other days I rely on my petroleum education. We get a wide variety of customer inquiries including the transit time of our drillships over certain distances and whether or not we can drill under certain operating parameters. Some of these questions require multiple engineering considerations.
How is the work you do important to society?
By physically drilling and completing wells for our customers, we play an important role in the upstream sector. Often when people talk about hydrocarbons, they frame their conversation around the use of oil and gas as sources of energy. That is definitely a large and important use of these resources as they fuel our vehicles, heat our homes, and enable us to cook in our kitchens. Natural gas in particular is used to generate electricity in many power plants. However, petroleum is also found in every day products such as plastic, detergent, candles, Vaseline, etc. These non-renewable resources support the foundation of modern life.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your current role?
I haven’t been in my current role very long, but I was working on similar projects in my previous role. In that position, I negotiated an agreement with one of our customers to jointly qualify equipment capable of breaching the next frontier in high pressure, high temperature offshore drilling.
What projects or goals are you currently pursuing?
Currently, I’m working on rig solutions involving the use of equipment with higher pressure and temperature ratings than have previously been employed in industry. If we were to be selected for this work, it would be a real breakthrough for our company. Also, I am part of several internal charter teams. One of these is looking at ways we can better articulate our technical capabilities to our customers so they have more meaningful insight into our solutions. Another is taking the feedback we receive from customers and seeing where we might make rig modifications or upgrades to be more competitive. A great example would be the ability of our rigs to lift certain loads. In recent years, the maximum loads we could lift have been 2.8 million pounds. We recently announced our two newest drillships will be equipped with hoisting systems capable of lifting 3 million pounds.
I’ve also spent a significant amount of the last several months offshore on one of our newest drillships. Here is a link to check out a video of the ship during sea trials: https://vimeo.com/175661774
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Making recommendations on what upgrades we should implement and what we should defer.
What is the most exciting, most amazing, or scariest thing that has happened to you during your work?
When I was in Baghdad, we had incoming fire and had to retreat to the bunker while the combat troops addressed the source.
Highest degree attained/ Schools attended?
Master of Engineering – Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M
Master of Science – Technology Commercialization, The University of Texas at Austin
Bachelor of Science – Systems Engineering Management, United States Air Force Academy
What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
I was awarded the top academic award for my M.S. Degree and achieved a 4.0 while completing my M.E.. I was also featured on websites for both departments.
What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
I worked full time during both of my graduate programs. Finding the time to study while delivering results at work was incredibly challenging. You can do anything when you put your mind to it.
Previous employers and positions that have led to your current role
Baker Hughes, a GE company / GE Oil & Gas – variety of roles in the Drilling business that manufactures blowout preventers and riser for offshore drilling contractors like my current employer, Transocean
Other positions not necessarily related to your current career
United States Air Force, Contracting Officer
Best job you’ve ever had and why/Worst job you’ve ever had and why
I’ve been fortunate to always have roles I liked, working with amazing people. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite.
What were you like as a kid?
I was very shy and quiet – definitely an introvert except on the soccer field.
Favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college
Always math. In grad school, it was the courses where we estimated petroleum reserves based on historical production profiles and asset portfolios for economic feasibility.
What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (movies and cartoon), Remember the Titans (2000)
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
A doctor or a role somewhere in the oil and gas value chain.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
I solidified my career track while I was serving overseas. I had been thinking about applying for a graduate degree in petroleum engineering for a few years when I learned that one of my college classmates was in the program at Texas A&M and loved it. I immediately signed up for the GRE, took it while deployed in Baghdad, and applied to the school.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other career(s) might you have pursued?
I would have pursued a career in medicine. I went back and forth several times, but I could definitely be happy as a doctor as well.
What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
Crossfit, exercising, spending time with my family and dogs, volunteering with local animal rescues. I’m also really into real estate. I recently obtained my Realtor certification and have an active license with the Houston Association of Realtors.
Do you play any musical instruments or play any sports?
I played soccer all the way through college but had to hang up my cleats after three knee surgeries.
What is your favorite non-science book, magazine, or blog?
Mostly I read the news. I read from a variety of sources to ensure I get adequate coverage.
What’s the most frequently played song on your playlist?
So many – if I had to pick one it would be Complicated by Avril Lavigne.
Who do you look up to and admire?
My parents. They embody so many amazing values I strive to achieve every day.
What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
Learn as much as you can about the variety of roles available. Oil and gas is such a broad space with so many options across the upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors. Talk to as many people in industry as you can. There is no best path toward any role; everyone’s path is unique.
What advice would you give students in general?
It’s ok to not know what you want to do when you grow up. Make educational choices that don’t limit your possibilities. If you have a background in STEM, you can move to a business role down the road. The same is not always true the other way around.
What are some interesting places you’ve traveled?
South Korea, North Korea via a room in the DMZ, Baghdad, UAE, Kuwait, Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Ireland, UK, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal. Mixture of work and vacation.