x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

'I ended up following my dad's advice'

This much I know Dr Emma Bowden Sadrpanah is a geologist for Schlumberger, an international oil services company based in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Emma Bowden, a geologist for an oil company, says she never has an "average" day.
Dr Emma Bowden, a geologist for an oil company, says she never has an "average" day.

Dr Emma Bowden Sadrpanah, 32, is a geologist for Schlumberger, an international oil services company based in Abu Dhabi.

I was born in London and before coming to Abu Dhabi my husband and I were working in Aberdeen and Bucharest. We both work for the same company and are both on international assignments which means we are transferred to different locations and often different jobs every two to three years. Working for the same company is great as the company finds us both jobs in the same location, so we have the opportunity to follow our ambitions and develop our own careers. When Abu Dhabi was suggested to us as our next move we jumped at the chance.

I don't have an "average" day in my job and that's what I love about it. I do training, support and consultancy for a very popular 3D geological modelling software called Petrel. It is used by a lot of oil and gas companies worldwide so I get the opportunity to work with a lot of different people from a lot of different places, which I really enjoy.

I get up when my alarm goes off: the time depends on where I am going that day and what I need to do. At the moment I work as part of a team that covers four countries ? the UAE, Oman, Pakistan and Yemen, but I mainly concentrate on our clients in Abu Dhabi.

I am an only child, and I have a very small family; just me, my mum and dad. I am lucky my parents are very adventurous and love to travel so they come to visit me whenever they can, wherever I happen to be. Whenever I tell my mum we are going to move to a new location the first thing she does is get out the holiday brochures to plan her next visit. Also my mum and I email and phone each other a lot so we don't get a chance to miss each other too much.

I most like the feeling of tolerance and freedom in Abu Dhabi. You see people of so many different nationalities, religions and backgrounds living, working and interacting comfortably alongside one another. I also really appreciate the feeling of safety in Abu Dhabi; when I go out alone as a woman I have never felt threatened or at risk of crime: this is a great freedom.

I also love the fact I am living on a desert island; the date palms, the fact it's summer all year round and seeing the beautiful blue water in the Gulf every day makes me smile. We are really looking forward to taking some scuba diving courses in the UAE and Oman. It's a real treat being able to dive without needing a wetsuit.

When I was growing up I had a lot of crazy ideas of what I wanted to be, ranging from being a ballet dancer to the president of the United States. I ended up following my dad's advice, which was "always do something you enjoy, that way you will be prepared to put in the time needed to become really good at it". So I ended up falling into being a geologist by selecting the subjects I was going to study at school and university by doing what I enjoyed most. It seems to have worked as I am happy where I ended up.

I spent seven years at University College London; I did my BSc and PhD there and enjoyed every minute of my time there. It was a great place to study and learn in a liberal environment, all right in the centre of London.

My one regret is not being able to spend more time with friends. Having chosen a lifestyle where my husband and I are moving locations and living in different countries we get to meet a lot of great people, but it also means leaving good friends behind when it's time to move on to the next place. Because we have friends scattered across several continents and we both work full time, it's hard to find the time to catch up with all our friends as often as we would like. We keep in contact with email as often as possible, but a lot of my friends are at the stage where they are having babies or have young children and I regret not being about more to share their special times with them.