Jeannie Sawka

Job title

Graduate Drilling Engineer

Who do you work for?

Origin Energy – Unconventional Drilling Engineering Team

Where is your job based?

Brisbane

What does your job involve?

As a Drilling Engineer I design and supervise the construction of coal seam gas wells.  The designing involves researching prior art and offset information (lessons learned from previous wells), liaising with the Inventory Team, liaising with the Cost Control Team, choosing equipment and writing a program to give to the teams who carry out the work on site. The supervision of construction involves talking with the onsite team, troubleshooting operational issues and reviewing daily time logs/daily costs.

Why did you choose to work in this sector?

I wanted to go into Renewable Energy but couldn’t get into a graduate program straight out of university (2013).  Working with Origin as a Drilling Engineer is a great way to get important skills like project management while still letting me get my foot in the door to the Energy Industry.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

The rig I am working with at the moment has a great crew. They are constantly improving the duration and cost of drilling wells.  We have made a huge improvement from taking around four days per well to 2.1 days per well over the last year. It looks great plotted on a graph!

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

Drilling Operations are expensive so it can be stressful when the rig is waiting on my input.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I still hope to work in Renewable Energy.  Maybe as a Geothermal Engineer so I can put my Drilling Engineer technical knowledge to use.

What are some of the benefits of your job?

There is flexibility. Sometimes I will be on the rig for days, get calls from the rig at night, or be the ‘on call engineer’ over the weekend.  This is nicely balanced with good remuneration and the occasional early afternoon.

What training did you have for this job?

I went to Pembroke School in Adelaide and the University of Queensland.  At high school the relevant subjects I took were Maths, Physics, and Technology Studies. At university I studied Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Energy.

Why is mathematics important in your job?

I think that studying so much maths in school and university has benefited me greatly. Maths is about learning how to solve problems, not about numbers. It’s an essential skill for the critical thinker.

How do you use digital technologies in your job?

We have software that assists in designing the more advanced wells. It allows us to ‘DWOP’ before sending a program to the onsite teams.  This means ‘Drill While on Paper’ and it allows us to foresee and plan for potential issues. My main tools are always outlook and excel.

What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

There is a misconception that an engineer must be smart. This cannot be true.

I think the most important quality is tenacity.  My advice is to ask your teachers to help you after class, go through your mistakes in tests, take time to go to career fairs and meet potential employers and choose subjects that challenge you rather than ‘bludge’ subjects.