Q&A with Our Coalition Member: Ally Cedeno of Women Offshore


The Explore Offshore coalition’s mission is to unite supporters of offshore energy development and promote its benefits and importance to our nation’s economy and energy security.

Today, we’re putting one of our coalition members in the spotlight to help put a face and a name to some of the unique supporters of this broad coalition of business organizations, community leaders and local associations who value the countless benefits that offshore exploration can bring to our country.

Meet Ally Cedeno, the founder of Women Offshore- an organization and online platform geared toward offshore-based female professionals that serves as a resource center and peer mentoring program supporting a diverse workforce on the water. Her organization’s mission is to shine a light on women in operations and help them foster long-term careers in the offshore and maritime industries.

Ally is a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and is licensed as a chief mate of unlimited tonnage vessels and dynamic positioning operator. Learn more in our Q&A below about this fascinating woman who has made offshore exploration part of her life’s work.

Q & A with Ally Cedeno of Women Offshore

Q: For most of the offshore-related jobs of your career, you have been one of only a few women working on offshore energy rigs. How did you get involved in the offshore energy industry?

After graduating from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2008, I worked aboard cruise ships. During this time, I was intrigued by vessels that operated with dynamic positioning (DP), a computer-controlled system that maintains position and heading with thrusters. I was fortunate to obtain a DP trainee position onboard a dive-support vessel that serviced pipelines and platforms, mostly in the Bay of Campeche. Three years later, I moved my career to drillships in the Gulf of Mexico

Q: You recently spent several months on a 7th-generation ultra-deep-water drillship in South Korea but have spent timing working on other offshore energy development vessels over a career lasting almost a decade. What’s your favorite part of working in the offshore energy development industry?

My favorite part of working offshore is the camaraderie that develops when a crew works together for an extended period. While offshore, a crew depends on its members for both daily tasks and emergencies, spending hours with each other everyday. An offshore crew can become a second family, creating a bond that lasts even when people move on to other careers or different rigs.

Q: What’s one misconception that you feel many have about working in the offshore energy industry?

One misconception is that there aren’t any women in the field. At Women Offshore, we shine a light on female role models throughout the industry. We not only showcase their accomplishments, but also share how they have overcome challenges in their careers. These lessons learned are tools that women emerging into the industry utilize as they chart their own careers offshore.

Q: Data shows that women make up only 4 percent of the offshore workforce and just 14.5 percent of the overall energy sector. What do you feel can be done to help address the oil and natural gas industry’s workforce gender gap, and how can Explore Offshore encourage these efforts?

The gender gap in offshore energy can be addressed twofold. First, companies that not only focus on recruiting women, but also retaining female talent are leading the way. I encourage a strong internal focus on gender diversity and inclusion initiatives that support 50/50 gender parity. Explore Offshore can encourage these efforts by providing resources on how companies are zeroing in on reducing the gender gap. Second, it is important to share the stories of women in the field. There are many women emerging into the industry who approach Women Offshore, stating that up until they found our website, they were unaware of how many roles women are in on the water. By spreading awareness of these opportunities, even more women will look to make their next career move offshore.

Q: How do you mentor other women who have chosen to work in offshore natural gas and oil exploration?

At Women Offshore, we have an impressively skilled world-wide network of female talent. Women emerging into the industry are hungry to learn from many of these role models. Looking back at my own offshore career, I often wished to have a female mentor, someone I could seek guidance from. When founding Women Offshore, I knew that mentoring needed to be a cornerstone of the organization.

As you can imagine, creating a mentoring program for a workforce that spans the globe in remote locations can be challenging. The Women Offshore MentorSHIP, launched on our 1st anniversary, was designed to meet the needs of female seafarers through an online mentoring program. The program is designed so that no matter what sea a woman works in, she can have access to mentoring.

Our program pairs women emerging into the industry with experienced female seafarers. Pairings are made based on the mentees career goals, providing support for a desired career path. Mentors and mentees communicate and task plan through a mobile-friendly website. A resource center provides checklists and advice on how to get started and maintain good communications throughout the program.

I am incredibly proud of the Women Offshore community and the mentoring that has taken place. As we build our program, I am excited to see how our members will conquer their career goals to become the next leaders in the industry.

Q: Veterans come to the civilian workforce with extensive technical and nontechnical skills gained through military experience and training. How do you see offshore energy exploration and development helping to provide job opportunities for veterans considering a long-term career in the offshore energy industry?

Veterans’ technical and nontechnical skills are just what the industry needs. I have worked with many veterans, who utilized their skills from the military to forge new careers in the offshore energy industry. I have also seen companies seek out veterans, valuing military experiences. As offshore energy exploration and development expands, the offshore energy industry is a great place for veterans to find their next careers.

Q: In your own words, can you describe why you feel exploring our offshore energy resources is important to the future of our nation’s economy and our energy security?

Exploration offshore is important to both our nation’s economy and energy security since it is the first stage of an extensive process in capturing energy. The process can take years or even a decade from the start of exploration to production, generating thousands of jobs. By exploring offshore energy resources now, jobs are created that fuel the economy to then capture energy in the future, contributing to our nation’s energy security.

Q: Why did you choose to partner with Explore Offshore, and how has this partnership helped you meet your organization’s goals?

Women Offshore chose to partner with Explore Offshore because we believe in the importance of offshore energy exploration and production in supporting the economy. This partnership has helped us meet our organization’s goals by supporting jobs on the water that we rely on and providing resources to showcase the benefits and importance of the offshore energy industry.

Want to follow Ally and all the great work she is doing with Women Offshore? Click here!

Categories: Coalition Member Spotlight