To celebrate International Women’s Day, meet Bridget Spencer, Wood’s department manager of instrument engineering and design in the Americas. She does not see the energy industry as a man’s world. She sees it as her world.
Bridget Spencer was recently promoted to department manager of instrument engineering and design in Wood’s Americas business, but if you ask her if this was part of her career plan, she would probably tell you no. Bridget didn’t have a definitive career plan in mind, and she has taken advantage of every opportunity given to her.
Bridget joined Wood 13 years ago, as a recent university graduate from Texas A&M University. She started out as an engineer, before becoming project lead engineer and section lead working across the offshore, onshore and refining sectors. She has worked on projects ranging from refinery units such as Delayed Cokers, to offshore drilling and production units, and onshore cryogenic gas units.
During her career at Wood, she has had supportive, mentoring and flexible managers that have always challenged her. On her first project, the client needed information on nuclear technologies. Her lead asked her to research and come up with recommendations for the client. She presented the information to the lead with such enthusiasm and passion that he told her to present it to the client. As a recent college graduate, this was a challenge for Bridget, but she wholeheartedly took advantage of the opportunity given to her.
The notion of ‘challenge received, and opportunity accepted’ has repeated itself throughout Bridget’s career. She said, “once you’re given an opportunity, it’s up to you how you take advantage of it. For me it’s never about using opportunities to advance my career. It’s about doing the best I possibly can.”
The role of department manager is one that pushes Bridget out of her comfort zone. Being an engineer, she is used to structure, order and knowing the answers. With this role, change is constant and requires her to be flexible and adaptive. Bridget is confident that she has the best department in the entire organisation with the best sector leads, project leads, engineers and designers. She feels like her job is to make her team’s job easier.
When asked why she chose Wood all those years ago and why she continues to choose Wood every day, her answer was culture and flexibility. Bridget joined directly from university, because she had heard of the company’s great culture. She is excited to be a part of building the company – being a part of the future of Wood. “It’s like being at a new company, but with all of the resources, relationships, culture, and history of the company I’ve always known. It is home,” she added.
Bridget is one of only a few female department managers in Wood’s engineering space. While she was a bit surprised by that she wasn’t consumed by it. She said, “I don’t see the energy industry as a man’s world. I see it as my world. I recognise that I’m the only female department manager just now, but I don’t let it define me. I don’t want to be the best female department manager, I want to be the best department manager.”
Bridget feels the culture at Wood values her as an engineer and provides her with the flexibility to be a mom too. She hopes that being a mother and department manager will show her team that she is understanding of parenting pressures and always seeking a degree of flexibility that enables people to flourish. She strongly believes getting to know the whole person and what motivates them creates trust and understanding, which in turn can create a better working relationship and more productive employee.
When asked about what career advice she could offer others, Bridget said, “do your best work, every day and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Seek opportunities and seize them when they arise. You never know where they could lead you.”