Relocation to the North — that’s a pretty challenging proving ground for a young woman. However, Tatiana Antonova, Deputy Head of the Planning and Budgeting Section, took it into her head to make that move and is now convinced that working under the conditions of the North is essential to anyone who sees their life tied up in the oil industry in the longer term.
‘I was born in a small village in the Orenburg Oblast. Dad worked in the forestry industry and Mum was a teacher of Russian language and literature. Mum thought I showed promise as a teacher but I chose a different path: I went to Samara and graduated (with honours) from a specialist energy-sector technical college, before graduating from an Economic Planning Institute with a diploma in industrial planning.
I moved to the North in 1986, with certain romantic notions about that snowy extremity ... My husband and four-year-old daughter came with me. We were met by a not overly friendly town. Although we arrived in Muravlenko in August, it was only six degrees centigrade, with a sort of snowy, watery sludge underfoot. The North struck us as harsh, cold, and prickly. Quite apart from the cold, there was no shortage of other challenges: difficult living conditions, and a paltry selection of shops. The only thing that helped us get through these difficulties and get used to this new place was our belief in our own strength and ability. And there were good people, always ready to help. I’ve lived here now almost 30 years, but even now never cease to be amazed at Northerners’ relationships with one another — their support for one another, their kind-heartedness, and heartfelt warmth.’
‘The main business in town in those days was the Sutorminskneft field office, and I decided I wanted to work there within two years of arriving in Muravlenko. As it happened, a vacancy opened for an economist and I was interviewed by Boris Koshelev, at that time head of Sutorminskneft. Maybe he spotted something in that young specialist, just starting out — perhaps my determination to grow and develop further, or my responsible approach to things ... I was appointed straight away, even though the vacancy had attracted other applicants with far more experience.
Within a couple of years I’d become a senior economist, then Chief Specialist and Head of Unit, before being appointed to my current role as Head of the Central Planning and Budgeting Unit, and Deputy Head of Planning and Budgeting Section.
Today I have an excellent young team reporting to me — all extremely responsible, energetic, good-hearted, and able to support each other. We’ve sort of built our own ‘microclimate’, an atmosphere of mutual trust. Which means newcomers are quickly and easily absorbed into what we’re doing, and soon start achieving good results.’
‘After a quarter century of work I’ve had my share of honours and awards: and they’re very important to me — it’s great to be recognised. It proves your worth — that you’ve met the goals you’ve set yourself.
I believe, if you want to become a real ‘oil man’, working in our field, then you have to spend some time living in the conditions of the North — learning the ropes, getting to grips with the business. That ‘Northern immunity’ teaches you qualities like determination, tenacity, and a sense of responsibility.
I try and inculcate these qualities not only among my colleagues, but also in my children — who, incidentally, have also chosen to pursue this profession. My eldest daughter graduated from the Institute of Petroleum Refining and Petrochemistry, Ufa, and now lives and works in that city. My son, born in Muravlenko in 1991, is going to graduate from the same institute and will, most likely, return to work in his home town.
Work takes up a lot of my time, but I do find time to relax. Some time ago my husband and I took over a small plot in the countryside, which we’ve been able to transform into a little smallholding, with a small house, vegetable garden and flowers.
And the most absorbing pastime, for me, is reading. I’ve many books at home, and I very much enjoy re-reading authors such as Bunin, Prishvin, Shukshin and Tolstoy.
Tatiana Antonova was born in the Orenburg Oblast, in the village of Russkaya Bokla in the Bugurlansk district. She graduated in Industrial Planning from an Economic Planning Institute in 1988. From 1988 she was employed as an economist at the field office of Sutorminskneft, being appointed Senior Economist (Industrial Drilling) in 1994 and Chief Economist at the field office of Muravlenkovskneft (Industrial Drilling) in 2004. Since 2009 she has held the positions of Head of the Central Planning Budgeting Unit, and Deputy Head of Planning and Budgeting Section for Gazprom Neft subsidiary Gazpromneft Muravlenko. She has been recognised and honoured by both that enterprise (holding a long-service award), as well as the City Council (Duma) of Muravlenko and the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation. In addition to this, Tatiana is a member of the Women of Muravlenko community organisation, is a professional union committee member, and has, for many years, been elected the sector committee representative at the company’s administration.