Anastasija Kikava, Preparing for the Unexpected

“I am constantly three or four steps ahead of any challenge because that’s the life offshore. My job has certainly made me fierce, and emotionally much stronger. Especially as a woman in a man’s industry you need to be tough if you want to function offshore”.

Although she maintains a feminine attitude, you could say that Anastasija is not a typical woman, “I feel like I’m different from most women. The offshore world has made me respond quickly to different scenarios and has given me a fierce attitude for difficult circumstances. I’ve been in situations where I had to be five steps ahead of the game to be able to react on time. Both professionally and personally, this job has helped me react positively to any type of situation, you always have to adapt to your surroundings which in due course can affect your personality.”

Despite the progression in her career, working offshore wasn’t part of Anastasija’s plan. In 2006, she received her bachelor degree in international law.  However, she was already on the path to the offshore industry by taking a part-time job as a catering stewardess on two weeks on/off shift. This offshore opportunity would be the beginning of a career that would turn into a bigger passion than law. “The catering job was a chance to gain money while taking on my masters for a year, and all of a sudden, the year after I got an offer for a Radio Operator traineeship in Aberdeen; while I was finishing my second study degree in economics.”

On the first day of her traineeship, a life changing opportunity showed up at her doorstep as two professionals resigned their positions, giving her the chance to take on a permanent job right away. “It all seemed like destiny, what are the odds, right?” On the other hand, Anastasija lacked experience in the field, a challenge as she had to confront in a world of men. “I must say back then I did my courses but I wasn’t prepared, and most professionals (men) would think ‘that inexperienced young girl from Lithuania, what is she doing here?’. At one point I thought I was going to lose it, but a dear friend of mine named Peter van der Hoek helped me out. I got to learn through his years of experience many procedures of radio operators and the vocabulary on the job. He helped me develop a strong character to make it through the days and gained key knowledge that helps you grow personally and professionally.”

From that moment on, it all took off for Anastasija, leaving behind her passion for law. The offshore world captivated her, she had developed a bigger passion; a life of challenges. “After gaining years of experience, I had become a different person; I had developed a serious character that helped me adapt to this world of men. In other words, I had become a woman that endures through the most stressful, complicated and challenging situations. I must say it helped me create a mindset that surpasses feminine women; I am constantly three or four steps ahead of any challenge because that is the life offshore. I’ve become very severe, very strong emotionally. You can’t lack in strength or you just can’t survive.”

A question that arouses most minds, is why a woman would want to work in a male dominated industry. “I feel comfortable, and I really like the helicopter-admin part of my job because it’s busy and you get to live an everyday challenge. At the end of the day I get to tell myself that I’ve had a good day and I like it! On the other hand, the best approach to stay comfortable in a world like this is to maintain a professional behaviour; you have to maintain strong communication with them. There might be times where you could get distracted, so the best way is to stay tough and focused on what your main task is.”

Anastasija recalls her experience with men since the beginning of her career. “I, for example, cannot make friends with them. I can be nice and talk to them but that’s it. I believe that by taking your time and working hard is the way they start taking you seriously. You just have to be patient and they will start treating you equally.”

Despite the lack of women who are working offshore, in recent years there has been an increase in women working in all kinds of disciplines. “I remember in the beginning I would be the only woman working. Actually, I might have been the only woman for an entire period of four years. I remember a few years back a colleague of mine was also working through Atlas but you could tell she wasn’t up for it. She couldn’t handle the amount of pressure there was on a 12 hour shift. This environment is simply not for everyone. You have to think it through and prepare yourself, before coming out to work; you have to be ready for the unexpected.”