By Mildred Lo, published on January 5th, 2018, modified on January 8th, 2018
Originally from Sarawak, Malaysia, I gratuated as a Chartered Accountant from Canterbury University, Christchurch in New Zealand. I arrived in Brunei in May 1986 when my husband was offered a job here. In 1989, while auditing Total as their independant statutory auditor, I asked Daniel Jouhet, the Finance and Admnistration Manager at that time if there was any position available in Total that I could be considered for. "Let's have coffee and we will talk about it", he answered. This was how I got to know the very direct French culture. Initially, after seeing the position advertised, I thought the job was not for me! Fortunately, after some discussions, I changed my mind! On August 1st 1989, I joined Total as the Accounting Officer in a very small department with just four staff members. At that time, we did everything from cost control, treasury, and Joint Venture reporting to accounting. I remember that Daniel Jouhet wrote memos all the time. We were so busy that he had to help us on year end accounts closure! At one point, the language barrier was such a struggle that told us, "You have to learn French, I can't spend so much time translating". We were in this exciting exploration phase where we could either succeed or fail and, on October 4th, 1989, the discovery of gas bearing reservoirs paved the way to an exploration campaign! I also had a great connection with Chris Hollis, who took over Daniel Jouhet's position as Financial Director. He was an accountant by training and really understood the value of our office. I remember a Total dinner that he decided to organise on a boat along the river, what a nice event it was! Operations and finance departments were on the same floor, we were like a small happy family.