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Mattilda Sheridan studied a Bachelor of Science (double major Geology) and a Master of Science (Geology).
Where did you grow up and study? Have you ever travelled abroad?
I grew up in Canberra. I went straight from school to university, studying at the Australian National University (ANU). During my time at ANU I went on exchange to the UK and studied at the University of Leeds. I was able to travel around Europe a lot during my time overseas. I returned home to finish my final year at ANU and then moved to Brisbane for a summer vacation placement at Santos. After completing the placement, I moved to Christchurch, New Zealand to start a Master of Science. After my first year of study in New Zealand, I moved to Adelaide for the summer to work for Santos as a vacation student before travelling back to NZ to complete my thesis.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
Working for Santos as a vacation student in both Brisbane and Adelaide led to a graduate position, which is where I am now. I have been working for Santos for four years.
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
Geology is a very broad science; when you are at uni you weigh up every option! I spent most of my third year applying for different jobs (they take a lot of time!) and was fortunate to be accepted into the Santos Vacation Program. I haven’t looked back since.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
The two Santos positions I applied for were in Brisbane and Adelaide, so my interview process was over the phone or Skype. The main questions asked were regarding how I work in a team, how I would handle difficult situations, what value I would add to a team and what skill set required improvement.
What does your employer do?
A proudly Australian company, Santos is a leading supplier of natural gas, a fuel for the future providing clean energy to improve the lives of people in Australia and Asia. Santos aims to be Australia’s leading domestic gas supplier and a leading Asia-Pacific LNG supplier. For more than 60 years, Santos has been working in partnership with local communities, providing jobs and safely and sustainably developing Australia’s natural gas resources.
What are your areas of responsibility?
My current role is to identify areas to drill for oil in the Cooper Basin, which spans remote parts of northern South Australia into Queensland. I have worked as a wellsite geologist in the field on drilling rigs, as a sedimentologist in the lab looking down a microscope and in exploration looking for new oil and natural gas opportunities in the Northern Territory.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
The role I am in now is very much office based. I work closely with a small team made up of a geophysicist, reservoir engineer and myself (the geologist). We work together using seismic data, electronic log information, well log correlations, reservoir studies and production data to understand the prospectivity for oil within certain fields. Once we have identified ‘sweet spots’ we put forward a number of drilling locations which, if approved, will be drilled in the following year.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
Santos is a big company with assets and offices across Australia. Just in my short time here I have already worked across a range of technical areas, both field and office based in Adelaide and Brisbane. It’s the same across our industry; our CEO Kevin Gallagher himself started as an engineer. I feel excited about my future with Santos, as there are so many career opportunities across the business.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Their background would have to be within the science stream, ideally geology or geophysics.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I would be working in the geothermal space, which, like natural gas, is all about cleaner energy.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love being able to work both in the office and in the field. It is exciting to work up areas and successfully discover oil and natural gas.
Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high?
We are drilling 24/7 which means sometimes you have to come into the office at any time, even 2.00 am! Drilling is an expensive operation and quite often the field staff are waiting on your response, so you have to be organised and prepared to make fast, smart and important decisions. While this can be stressful, the extra work is recognised by our managers and we have flexible working arrangements that take this into account.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?
- Go on exchange. Organising an exchange can be time consuming and challenging, however future employers recognise the effort put into this. It is a great opportunity to travel and study and it looks great on your CV!
- Apply for jobs everywhere and anywhere – remember grades aren’t everything!
- Don’t stress if you are still unsure about where you want your degree to take you. What’s important is to work hard where you’re at and the opportunities will always open up.