She’s managed high-level corporate responsibilities with millions of dollars at stake in one of the most male dominated industries around.  Oil and gas executive Natalie Wallace says it’s been a ‘big journey’, and she’s got a BCD scholarship to thank for helping to navigate her career.

Natalie’s resume reads like a who’s who of the resources industry: Mobil, Exxon, Energy Australia (formerly TXU), and Santos. After studying chemical engineering, this experienced executive got her first taste of working life in an Adelaide refinery. She then moved up the ladder to bigger responsibilities including strategy development and commercial negotiation.

However it was negotiating her own value as a lone female voice in the boardroom that proved the hardest.

“At the time, I was part of a leadership team, and was the only woman outside of HR. My challenge was being heard in the room. I could say something and eyes would glaze over. My colleague would say the same thing in a slightly different way, and everyone would think it was a good point. I was looking for assistance on how to navigate that.”

In 2012, behind closed doors launched its inaugural scholarship. “A friend told me about the (scholarship) opportunity and suggested I apply.”

Natalie beat out many applications to win, and was inducted in to the BCD Luminaries program, where she flourished.  After a full year in the group, Natalie gained confidence and discovered tools to solve workplace problems and issues, finding the support of the BCD network invaluable.

“Over time, my role increased in complexity and visibility, and you can’t share that in the workspace. Knowing that I could rely on the facilitators and my peers to work through those (workplace) challenges has been really valuable.”

But it’s not just professional development advice Natalie received.

“I formed very strong friendships with my group of peers. They’re based on a foundation of respect.  To get the best out of BCD you do need to show vulnerability, and in order to do that there is a level of trust that isn’t necessarily available through a work relationship. Donny and Annette have fostered that so that it happens quite quickly.”

Natalie has enjoyed a continuous association with BCD since winning the scholarship in 2012, and has this advice for those considering applying.

“You get access to a range of experiences and a knowledge base, and the safe space to know that you’re held in respect, and that’s so important for professional women. The thing you get from a scholarship are tools. Just go for it and apply.”

The scholarship is worth in excess of $5,500 + GST.


By Stacey Lymbery

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