Business Development, the red thread of my career in the Group
Being a woman has never been a handicap for me to work at Total. As a proof, I have already spent 28 years with a career progression while cumulating many experiences, including trading, economy, new businesses and within geographical directions of Exploration-Production. I have practiced these businesses mainly in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
However, we cannot really say that my beginnings were very conclusive and promising. With a double degree in geology and marketing intelligence, I applied to Total in 1991 at the end of my studies for a market research position on coal activities. After several interviews and a battery of tests, I was told that it would not be possible because I am a woman! And I was sent back to a position of assistant gas project manager on Qatar! I then told them that I was still a woman. However, I started a second marathon of interviews all positive to finally hear that I was too young for the job ... but that my profile interested them. In fact, being a young woman was not then the best profile to meet the casting criteria of the house. I was finally hired to the Back Office Trading business where I spent two good years before knocking on the Gas Branch door again, ironically saying, "I'm still a woman but with 2 years more and still very motivated to join the gas direction. My daring ended up paying!
From 93 to 96, I worked on the negotiation of gas sales contracts mainly in the North Sea and the Middle East. In this part of the world, I had the feeling of being "Tintin in the land of black gold" with my pantsuit in the middle of men all dressed in their long '' dishdash ''!
Then, I chained for 2 years on the development of projects to find medium and long-term outlets for the Group's LPG production. My field of action this time covered Turkey, India and China. In China, for example, we were looking for ancient caverns capable of storing LPG. It's a time when I traveled a lot to visit facilities.
From a GPL project manager, I became an economist for the EP branch in charge of the Middle East. My job was to study the profitability of the exploration-production projects in this region of the world. During this period, the merger between Total and Fina then with Elf rather jostled our lives since we had to integrate the standards of analysis quite different from ours. I was evolving then within a small team very dynamic with an intense activity. On the menu: lots of numbers to brew and decipher, Excel spreadsheets to infinity, nightly repetition and, fortunately, an excellent atmosphere. I still remind it very positively today!
It was after this position as an economist that my career in Business Development truly became a reality, with 6 years as a new business negotiator, 3 years for the Gas & Electricity Department and 3 years for the Exploration-Production. My playgrounds, still the Middle East, a bit in Africa and especially Asia that I finally discovered. During my many missions during this period, I keep particularly in mind my discovery of Syria, my baptism of fire in Nigeria where Total was to build a power plant by recovering the associated gas, once flared. On the menu: helicopter trips to locate, bodyguards in our backs to watch over us and endless discussions with the Nigerian authorities. Another great experience with Malaysia. Nearly 3 years of negotiations with the national company to allow us to explore deep horizons through a contract backed by a new tax. The mining rights were obtained, a subsidiary was opened ... but unfortunately the drilling did not give anything on this permit.
For the last than 10 years, I joined the Geographic Directions, still in Exploration-Production. 5 years as Country Delegate for Syria and Yemen, two countries where I had the chance to move to appreciate the beauty of historical sites but also that of our production sites, 5 years as Secretary General for the Asia-Pacific zone and today for the Middle East and North Africa zone. It is essentially a work of interface between the subsidiaries (of which one is the spokesperson and the ears) and the Headquarters where the various technical and support trades are centralized as well as the Top Management which approves the decisions of investment. It is also a representation work with public authorities and other institutions.
All these development-oriented professions gave me a great visibility within the Group and allowed me to build a beautiful network. I use this network every day today in my activities as Director of General Affairs, where I particularly need to solicit my contacts to obtain the information necessary for the good management of my files.
Do I have a regret ? I have never moved gone abroad for family reasons. On the other hand I chained the travels around the world. Or almost ! Being a woman has never been a handicap to grow and flourish in the Group. My career development has not been affected by my maternity leaves and my status as a woman in a world of men has never weighed on me. It was sometimes even an advantage because as a woman, I remain convinced that we bring something different, another look, which can be very appreciated.