23 November 2022
What drives someone to pursue a challenging career? To defy existing norms, barriers – and in the end generate a success story not only for yourself but for the people who are to follow your footsteps as well? For insight into these questions, meet Ally Cedeno.
Ally Cedeno, Dynamic Positioning Operator and Founder of Women Offshore Foundation, has been around the industry for years now and has gathered significant amount of experience and knowledge to a point where she now assists new generation of woman working in the industry as the Founder of Women Offshore Foundation.
Ally cites her father as her guide and starting point when it comes to why she chose this industry in the first place: “It was helpful to have my father at my side as some sort of a mentor figure who knew a lot about the industry even though he actually never worked at sea himself.”
Ally further elaborates how her career path transitioned from Marine to the Energy industry: “I started out in cruise ships for a brief period of time, but I decided to become a Dynamic Positioning Operator so I kind of switched to offshore industry and I have been on drilling vessels since.” Since her transition to offshore, Ally has been working in the industry and has been moving further ahead with her career.
Uncharted Waters: Pregnancy Onboard
As of the time of this interview, Ally is nearing the end of her pregnancy and expecting a baby girl. Ally explains that she found out she was pregnant while she was onboard all thanks to the presence of pregnancy tests in the medic. She was extremely content with the level of support she received from her doctor, colleagues, and company.
Ally details the process she went through the very first week she felt unwell: “The medics were all so great and I felt like it was a really supportive environment – even though I was with complete strangers. After disclosing my symptoms, they wanted to test for pregnancy just in case – they applied two different tests to ensure there was no room for mistakes. It turns out I was actually pregnant.”
Ally’s podcast, The Women Offshore Podcast, where she discusses her entire experience with being pregnant offshore as well as anything and everything related to being a woman in the industry is available to stream on most major audio platforms along with Women Offshore Foundation’s webpage.
One for the Books: Women Offshore Foundation
Already contributing to significant changes within the industry, Women Offshore Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, or an NGO for non-US audiences, based in United States of America. Regarding how Women Offshore helps women working in the industry, Ally states that the Foundation offers “(…) a career development programme that helps women navigate the industry and work on what can they do within the industry – whether they are new to the industry or just need some help to figure out what to do next.”
Ally acknowledges that there is a lot of work to be done and explains the focus of Women Offshore: “There are a lot of barriers within the industry and we try to focus on two of them specifically: Career services and SAVE (Sexual Assault and Violence Eradication).” To this end, Women Offshore organizes events such as Career Days and Women Offshore Inclusion Summit where aspiring offshore Professionals can meet influential companies, individuals to learn more about the industry and contribute to ongoing conversations.
Houston branch of Atlas Professionals was one of the recruitment companies that demonstrated a strong presence in the latest Maritime Career Days event of 2021 with multiple presentations, in-person consultations from Atlas Professionals staff with interview tips and career progression advice as well as a panel participation from Laura Smith, Business Manager of Atlas Professionals Houston. Atlas Professionals is looking forward to participating in future events hosted by the Women Offshore Foundation.
Paving the Way
When asked about her thoughts on what the future has in store for women working in Energy, Marine and Renewables industries, Ally explains how things are changing – but there is still work to be done: “I am able to talk to the next generation thanks to Women Offshore’s mentorship program about what it looks like joining this industry and I often tell them they have a lot of opportunities and that they do not have to soldier on as my generation already dealt with some of the issues. Now, there are many companies that are willing to listen to you. You have a chance to find the support you need and use our resources.”
Ally acknowledges that there have been tangible changes within the industry, both in terms of gender equality and overall quality of vessels, services or positions offered to Professionals, but there is still a great need for further discussions and improvements: “Offshore and recruitment companies as well as Professionals are all responsible to generate change. We all play a part.”