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Rossana Vadala

Energy & Resources

Rossana Vadala - The Times Top 50 Employers for Women blog

Rossana Vadala joined Sodexo two years ago to spearhead its sales operation in the offshore energy and marine sector across Europe, as head of business development for the region. Her career as an engineer in the oil industry has already taken her across the globe working in a field where women are very much under represented, something she hopes to change…

It’s easy to forget that even on offshore oil rigs, people need clean sheets and clothes, and good food. This is where Sodexo comes in and I can bring my own experience of working offshore. It’s a big help to really understand the lifestyles and often extreme working conditions in offshore industries. We provide catering and housekeeping services and, increasingly, we are able to offer advance FM services such as preventative maintenance.

I like to think we can make offshore facilities such as oil platforms feel more like hotels in the middle of the ocean. Sodexo is very strong on the Quality of Life* ethos and that’s what I set out to provide for the people working out there. When I began working in the oil industry the lifestyle meant having three weeks at a time completely isolated at sea with usually an all-male crew. It’s not for everyone but I found I had the skills and knowledge to be able to cope with it.

I came into the industry with Electrical Engineering and MBA degrees at the point where there was an oil industry boom in the early 2000s, and worked for Schlumberger, one of the world’s leading oil industry services companies.

I’m half Colombian and half Italian and to begin with I worked in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Then I spent some time in Africa, in challenging areas including the Ivory Coast and The Congo, before moving to Europe. However, life changes, and as a woman, engineering offshore is not a great lifestyle when you’re thinking about having kids, so I moved to a manager sales role within Schlumberger.

I was head hunted by Sodexo two years ago to head up the sales and business development team for services to drilling rigs, platforms and vessels in marine services. It’s not just about oil and gas either. We work with the companies erecting and servicing offshore wind farms, but it is still mainly about providing food, cleaning and facilities management to very remote locations… which can just as easily mean a mineral mine in the middle of Australia!

Diversity is something that Sodexo puts a lot of emphasis on. When I joined the oil industry there were few women working on sites, but that’s changing. Now, in Sodexo, we have an amazing group of women working offshore and my team and I work hard to anticipate what people will need while they are out there.

I still travel a lot and with two daughters – aged 6 and 9 – it can be a challenge. My husband and I do rely on pre and after-school clubs but I also have the flexibility to work from home when things allow.

The support I’ve had from Sodexo on the need to be flexible and have a good work-life balance has been impressive. I can see a career progression and they are supporting me in my ambitions, while acknowledging my home life as well.

Recently, a big step has been being nominated for the Navigate Programme, which targets potential company leaders of the future for management development training. It’s more on my workload, but an amazing opportunity, taking me out of my comfort zone. It’s also giving me experience of working in a virtual team across a range of time zones, on global challenges.

I’m not superwoman; it does get exhausting. But I’m very organised and I have great support from my husband, my boss and my team. I’ve even been compared to the ‘Energizer Bunny’! My attitude is, I always say ‘yes’ to a career challenge and then figure out how to make it work.

At Sodexo we are committed to the importance of promoting equal opportunities, valuing diversity and creating an inclusive working environment for all our employees. Find out more about a career with us.

April 24, 2019

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