Personal Record

How work and play led to leadership roles

FB23-10-PR-Severine Pannetier-Lescoffit

Séverine Pannetier-Lescoffit is chief engineer geophysics at Equinor who counts rugby and music as her passions outside work. At CGG she was among the first women to work offshore. As a retired player she became one of the first women to referee both men and women’s international rugby, and believes the game helps to develop the managerial skills needed in professional life.

Influence of mother

My mum was one of the few women studying in the sciences faculty. She came from a poor background and education was a priority for her. My older sister has a Master’s in archaeology, my younger brother a PhD in maths. Our mother became a maths and physics teacher and pursued geology as a hobby. As a child on holiday I would always try to find some minerals or fossils to give to her.

What led to geoscience?

Teachers! I was so lucky with all my science teachers. In high school I was invited to visit a lab at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris. The team had just returned from a mission in the Nautile deepwater research submarine, to pick up some samples from a trench. When I had made up my mind to apply for Ecole Nationale de Geologie in Nancy, one teacher worked overtime to prepare me for the admission tests. Later the physics of the Earth caught my attention and I opted to specialise in geophysics.

Working as a woman offshore

After graduating I applied for a job offshore with CGG Marine. We were the first women onboard the seismic survey vessels in 1998.

At that time rotations were long — six weeks – and communication with the shore was poor. Days were long, sea could be rough and community life tough. I quickly developed a system of sisterhood, friendship, and communication. I also gained a lot of ‘brothers’ ready to protect me but able to annoy me a lot as well! More importantly I learnt very quickly about the geophysical operations and signal processing involved.

Career path at Equinor

As transverse and various as possible! From working on a production asset where IOR and well planning was the focus, to research on GRM, then onto an international gas project, followed by leading a group of subsurface specialists to now being chief engineer, top adviser for geophysics in Equinor.

What next?

I enjoy having access to ‘the bigger picture’, as well as interacting with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. My ambition is to make sure that we use our competencies  and technologies to work in an efficient and yet innovative way. Geophysics has an important role in this.

How did rugby start?

Very classic story: being in geology school we had a strong feeling of belonging and hence representing our school at student events. My sport was handball. But the rugby team needed support. When I realised this was for all types, even the tiny one with a big mouth and a strong mind, I knew I had found my place. Rugby is a perfect school for teamwork, hard work, diversity, and great fun. It has been an amazing way to integrate in Norway as well.

Becoming a referee

When my body said stop to playing rugby, I moved to being a referee. Still wanting to be part of the game, I discovered a management role that I really enjoyed: making sure players are safe while being allowed to deliver their best game within the rules. In 2018 I was part of the first women referees team to officiate in a men’s European league game. The pace of the men’s senior games is usually faster than the women’s but discipline can be weaker, so both require right positioning and preventive management. Now I have started my journey to become a match commissioner for international games. This is a role that requires planning and execution skills in a heated situation where empowerment and leadership are key to success.

Safety always the priority

Rugby is a contact sport with associated risks. Referees, match commissioners, field managers, and coaches all have the responsibilities for the safety of players. Responsibility for safe practice is a collective mindset. This is priority number one on the pitch. It’s exactly like taking care of each other when working offshore.

Music in your life

Definitely. My three kids all play instruments. Learning to play music is great for math and languages (music being the only universal one). They drag me to a huge number of concerts they’re performing at. I still play myself when time allows (saxophone and cello) and enjoy going to symphonic concerts, opera, and live jazz events.

Industry News

How work and play led to leadership roles

Volume 41 | Issue 10 | October 2023