Home » Our People » International Women’s Day 2023 » Marie Louise O’Hara – Head of Legal

Thanks for your time, Marie-Louise, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

“I have been with the Subsea7 group for around 11 years, moving over to Seaway7 in August 2022 as Head of Legal. Renewables seemed a big challenge and a break away from the norm, a good test for the grey matter!

I work with an international team of lawyers, based in various locations and support them alongside my own legal work.”

Tell us about your experiences as a woman in the workforce…

“When I first joined the industry, things were very different Leadership Teams were often exclusively male, and although there was some female representation in middle management, generally the industry felt like a place where women were expected to be support staff or in more junior roles – reporting to others rather than having others report into them.

One day, early in my career I remember coming out of a particularly frustrating meeting where a senior colleague had spent the meeting ignoring me and disregarding the advice I was giving. However, after a rocky start, I persisted and developed an excellent working relationship, based on mutual respect, which was stronger that I could have anticipated. This experience set a blueprint for my approach to building good working relationships across diverse organisations, through commitment to common goals, respecting differences, and persistence through challenging conversations and situations.

I think that things in the Energy Industry have changed enormously. Nobody blinks now if you are a female – it’s accepted and normal that there are women throughout the industry.”

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the workplace and how have you overcome them?

“On 30 December 2019 I had a missed miscarriage at the end of my first trimester. I had had some fertility challenges before but this one affected me deeply. I returned to work a week later than planned after the Christmas break so I could take some time to recover and process.  It was still early in the new year, so everyone was wishing me a happy new year and asking if I’d gone away anywhere nice.  It was exceptionally painful, but rather than hide what had happened, I decided I felt safe enough in work to be totally open with people. When people asked how I was or asked how the holidays went I explained what happened. The support that I received in return was phenomenal. People listened, shared their own experiences (men and women) and I felt that I wasn’t alone. My colleagues helped me feel closer to ‘normal’ again.”

Why do you feel that it’s important to mark International Women’s Day?

“Whilst I fully support the day and believe there is enormous value in recognising the day, I hope we get to a point that we don’t need it anymore. I would be really disappointed if my 18 month old daughter, in 30 years’ time, is still marking International Women’s Day. Much as I appreciate it, I’d like it to go away because we’ve achieved the things that we set out to.”

What would you say to women considering a career in our sector?

“Renewables is a good place for women of all ages and experience levels. There are a multitude of opportunities, and I’ve never felt that gender matters. I look around our offices in Aberdeen and I there are engineers, lawyers, document controllers, communications people, we are all just together, making a difference to the future of the planet!”

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