Shaping the future
Mariesha Jaffray is 41 and the business excellence lead for Technip UK.
WHAT WERE YOUR CAREER ASPIRATIONS WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
I initially wanted to be a primary school teacher but when it came to my higher exams, I changed my mind and wanted to be a paediatrician. I took all three sciences but by the time I was thinking about studying at University I discovered psychology and was determined to move into that area.
DID YOU GO TO UNIVERSITY, IF SO WHAT DID YOU STUDY AND WHY?
I studied a number of courses at Aberdeen University. First, I completed a full-time undergraduate Master of Arts with honours in Psychology. Later, while working in research for Aberdeen University, I completed an MSc in Health Services Research followed by a PhD in General Practice (‘Managing Change at the GP/Community Pharmacy Interface’).
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK FOR ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY?
I knew it was very tough to secure one of the limited places on the Scottish PhD post-graduate course in Clinical Psychology. I thought I could strengthen my CV by gaining some work experience so wrote to the consultant psychiatrist, Professor Lawrence Whalley. I began by working part-time with him, alongside studying, on a research project. Following graduation in 1996, I was appointed as research psychologist at the university.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN TECHNIP AND WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE ROLE THAT ATTRACTED YOU?
I joined Technip in January 2014 as a business excellence engineer. I was drawn to the role because I could envisage being able to put into practice some of the change management theories I had covered during completion of my PhD and recognised that my research skills were highly transferable. The position had all the elements of the new challenge I was looking for, a focus on process improvement, a move into oil and gas, and the opportunity to be part of a developing new Business Excellence (BE) team.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
In a nutshell, I am responsible for the development, delivery and governance of Technip’s UK BE Programme. I ensure all BE improvement projects that come through Technip are run as efficiently as possible. On top of that I am now accountable for making sure projects are allocated to the most appropriate member of the team based on their expertise, and to ensure we deliver process improvements at all times. These projects must translate into real cost savings, be sustainable and be aligned with Technip’s strategic priorities.
My role covers a wide range of areas and to date, we have delivered projects in supply chain, QHSE, engineering, HR, commercial, logistics and IT. I also mentor and coach the business excellence engineers and brainstorm particular problems or project blockers with the team members to ensure we reach the best solution.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I particularly enjoy leading my team of engineers, seeing them deliver tangible results and developing their competency through our internal training programme. This relies on the collaboration of a team to improve performance and is crucial for facilitating change.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
The biggest challenge is engaging with employees when delivering internal improvement projects. Understandably, people don’t always like change to begin with. With the improvement projects we have delivered so far however, we’ve been able to pinpoint a number of key factors which seem to make them successful – key people leading the change as well as showcasing benefits from the outset.
DO YOU THINK MORE WOMEN SHOULD CONSIDER THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR?
I do, butthink more women should consider the oil and gas sector I think we need to increase awareness and understanding of the job opportunities and career development available for men and women alike. I think there is a lack of awareness of how transferable skills from outside the industry can be applied to the oil and gas sector. In my view there is also a perception of a lack of flexibility in working arrangements, which is not the case.
DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON WHERE THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR IS HEADED?
I can’t predict what the future holds for the industry but I believe the key to survival in the current climate is to focus on continuous improvement,
to remove the excess and non-added value in our processes, regain a competitive edge and set long-term change goals. I believe that collaboration is key, whether in-house or between companies.