A Conversation with Deirdre Michie
Updated: Aug 31, 2019
As CEO of Oil & Gas UK, member of Government and other prominent forums, and sponsor of the AXIS Network, Deirdre Michie is well-known in the UK offshore industry and to AXIS Network members. A mother-of-two, Deirdre took time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions on her current role and earlier career, how she approaches achieving a work-life balance, and why she agreed to become the first AXIS Network sponsor. Deirdre has also kindly agreed to answer any further questions you would like to put to her. Please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st March 2018. We will publish her answers by 30th April 2018.
Q: What do you think have been the key themes to your career?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had a really varied career that’s included working with some fantastic colleagues and teams. I suppose the key themes from my perspective include:
Diversity of roles - Although I was with at the same company for over 25 years, it provided a great opportunity to work in business and functional roles, both in the UK and globally. I worked in a number of areas – commercial, communications and contracting & procurement. When I moved from one role to another I had to learn about each new position, always building on skills previously gained and utilising those that were transferable.
In at the deep end - A number of roles really challenged and stretched me but it’s only , with hindsight, that I appreciated what they did for me in terms of personal and professional development, as I did not always enjoy them at the time! However, I got better at understanding what would help me deliver and then succeed – a good team with key people you can trust; senior leaders who are there to support and stretch you, a mentor to provide guidance and clear agreed deliverables so that you can demonstrate what you have delivered.
Keeping externally focused - Early on I realised that keeping an eye on the competition and what the market is doing can help tackle issues and identify opportunities. It’s too easy to be consumed solely by the day-to-day delivery of our jobs. I would actively seek out opportunities to represent the company externally, which exposed me to different ideas and approaches.
Q: You are one half of a dual career couple as well as a parent, how have you approached balancing professional and personal commitments and what advice would you give to others trying to do the same?
We have always tried to make career decisions in a holistic family way. This has meant sometimes saying no to an opportunity that could have benefited either one of our careers but perhaps might also have impacted something important to us as a family. Also, you shouldn’t compete with your spouse, but instead be pleased for the other’s progress, and use it as a prompt to do more yourself!
Children and work life balance are always a challenge. My experience taught me to do the best you can – but never compromise on childcare. If you have a family, enjoy and appreciate the phase you are in and make the most of it. None of these times last very long - the good or the bad ones!
Q: Having a very busy schedule and multiple calls on your time, why did you agree to take on the role of AXIS Network Sponsor?
I was honoured to be asked as I was impressed by the commitment and passion of those I met through the network which made me want to help. My current role provides opportunities to support such a network and its aims, which I am fully behind. I believe networks are important and can be a key catalyst to bring about change, as well as providing support and benefit to those that take part.
Q: What advice would you give to others trying to improve gender balance and equality in their own organisations or beyond?
Be part of networks like AXIS and learn from the experiences of others, so you are not reinventing the wheel. Where possible, take into your own organisation and promote examples of success from others. This can be hugely powerful and can make a real difference to your organisation.