My advice to women interested in becoming an engineer, is simple, do not hold back!

Lea Natasha Ribin2
Lea Natasha Ribin
Offshore Installation Manager for Malikai (Shell)
Chemical & Biological Engineering Alumna
Lea Natasha Ribin, Offshore Installation Manager for Malikai (Shell) and Chemical & Biological Engineering Alumna.

Read: Our interview with Lea


Lea Natasha Ribin

What is your background and why did you choose engineering as a career path?

I come from a small town in the state of Sabah in Malaysia which is a state traditionally reliant on agriculture and tourism.  To top that off, I am the first in my larger family to have done anything remotely related to the STEM topics, so there was not much in terms of 'outside influence'.  As to why I decided to choose engineering as a path, it was largely because I've always enjoyed the Mathematics and Science subjects in school; I always thought that it was fun, logical and made most sense, so engineering was something that I definitely looked into seriously ever since high school !  I was then given the opportunity of a scholarship by Shell Malaysia to study Chemical Engineering in the UK, so it all worked out well!

Why did you choose to come to the University of Sheffield?

The location in the city, the fact that it was not a 'traditional campus', the diverse international student body with the terrific Student Union was all appealing and ultimately was an easy decision in the end.

What has been the highlight of your engineering career so far?

Since graduating from the University of Sheffield, I've worked in the energy industry and have been involved in 2 major Deepwater Projects in Malaysia - both of which were technological firsts in the region and brought great satisfaction when we achieved various successes.  However, the highlight was definitely being given the opportunity to be the first female Offshore Installation Manager for one of the Deepwater platforms in Sabah, Malaysia; leading a team of 88 personnel day in, day out.

How does it feel to lead a team of 88 personnel? And what advice would you give to other women interested in becoming an engineer?

Firstly, it felt like leading a family as, at the end of the day, I am living together with these men and women offshore; all while we're all away from our own families.  There are of course daily challenges; but the dynamic atmosphere always drove me on.  The satisfaction of delivering goals and having every single person go home to their families safely at the end of their shift was also a continuous motivation. Personally, I also had to handle being away two weeks at a time from my own husband and young son.  Thankfully, I had an excellent support system which I had to lean on.  Without them having to make their own sacrifices, I would not have been able to do the role. 

My advice to women interested in becoming an engineer, is simple, do not hold back! 

What does the future hold for you?

My family and I will soon be moving on to the Netherlands for an assignment, so we are excited about the new opportunities and challenges. 

What’s the best thing about being an engineer?

The best thing about being an engineer for me, is the sheer satisfaction when an engineering problem is solved through using our individual skills and also working with a team of diverse backgrounds.  There's always something to learn everyday!

Image: student working; Text: Futures. Sheffield Made.

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