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OCN asked ex­ec­u­tives from the Global Women Pe­tro­leum & En­ergy Club for their view of the in­dus­try, and what they feel women can add to the global en­ergy ef­fort.

The Global Women Pe­tro­leum & En­ergy Club has a goal to con­nect cor­po­rate and state play­ers to fa­cil­i­tate crit­i­cal in­dus­try in­ter­ests and deal flow in the global up­stream in­dus­try. It pro­vides net­work­ing fo­rums for com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ments, and na­tional oil com­pa­nies across the value chain. Of­fComm News asked some of the club’s mem­bers for their view of the fu­ture of our in­dus­try, and what they feel women can add to the global en­ergy ef­fort.

Deirdre O’Don­nel, MD of Work­ing Smart Lim­ited, Global Pe­tro­leum Re­cruit­ment

O’Don­nel started work as a sci­en­tific soft­ware de­vel­oper in 1987, when such roles were in high de­mand. She chose a job at a drilling and geo­science com­pany.

“When I heard there were op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel I signed up there and then. Within four months, I was trav­el­ling ex­ten­sively; vis­it­ing coun­tries I had never even heard of and had a fan­tas­tic time. I was al­ways treated with re­spect al­though in some cases the client was sur­prised to see a young fe­male ar­riv­ing to do what they con­sid­ered was a ‘ man’s role’ – it was never dull!”

Chal­lenges for the E& P sec­tor to­day

O’Don­nel be­lieves that sus­tain­abil­ity is the key chal­lenge, as in, how long can com­pa­nies op­er­ate in this low oil price mar­ket? In her ex­pe­ri­ence, many com­pa­nies have gone through mul­ti­ple re­dun­dancy rounds in the last 12 months, some have been forced to close, and many ad­vise that more re­dun­dan­cies are due in 2016. “The abil­ity to fur­ther drive down op­er­at­ing costs will be im­per­a­tive to many over the next 12 months or we will wit­ness fur­ther ac­qui­si­tions and merg­ers,” she said. “With a sus­tain­abil­ity fo­cus, lit­tle at­ten­tion is given to long- term ob­jec­tives and, as such, the prob­lems from the 1999 crash will be re­peated and in­ten­si­fied. The re­al­ity is that the ma­jor­ity of our in­dus­try is 50+ years; we have about 14- 20% in mid- tier; failed un­struc­tured men­tor­ing; made many young play­ers re­dun­dant in this crash; and have not hired re­cent grad­u­ates.”

When the up­turn comes

She also is­sues a warn­ing, in that there needs to be a col­lab­o­ra­tive in­dus­try ap­proach to tackle th­ese is­sues from all aspects, such as: hir­ing de­parted pro­fes­sion­als as men­tors, through to ed­u­cat­ing and en­cour­ag­ing our youth to con­sider the sec­tor.

“When the up­turn comes, as it will, we will be faced with a crip­pling short­age of skills, as well as a lack of men­tors; a de­cline in univer­sity up­take; dam­aged rep­u­ta­tions be­cause of the con­tin­ued cyclic na­ture of our in­dus­try; mid- tier forced into se­nior level roles; and a younger gen­er­a­tion ill- pre­pared for the tech­ni­cal and man­age­rial re­quire­ments for growth,” she said.

Nana Denkye Ap­piah- Nuamah, reser­voir en­gi­neer, Ghana Na­tional Pe­tro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion

Ap­piah- Nuamah started work­ing for Ghana’s Na­tional Oil Com­pany in 2008, shortly af­ter the dis­cov­ery of oil in com­mer­cial quan­ti­ties in Ghana.

“It’s quite ex­cit­ing to be part of an in­dus­try

that pro­vides such a fun­da­men­tal com­mod­ity to the world. It has a way of mak­ing me feel like I'm help­ing to con­trib­ute to de­vel­op­ing the world. I also love the di­ver­sity in the in­dus­try, meet­ing peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, as well as the op­por­tu­nity to travel far and wide.”

Ap­piah- Nuamah con­curs on chal­lenges that the cur­rent oil price brings, as well as the age/ ex­pe­ri­ence de­mo­graph­ics with a gap in mid- level/ mid man­age­ment ex­per­tise. She said: “I be­lieve what needs to be con­sid­ered is an ag­gres­sive cam­paign to ex­pose the newer re­cruits to a range of projects and also sys­tem­at­i­cally in­clude them in the de­ci­sion mak­ing stages to en­sure that they are able to gain the ex­pe­ri­ence needed to step into the shoes of the more ex­pe­ri­enced per­son­nel over time.”

Ad­dress­ing skills short­ages

Ap­piah- Nuamah con­tin­ued that: “Even though more women work in the in­dus­try now, there's room for many more at all lev­els and right from the sec­ondary schools. Groups like the Global Women

Pe­tro­leum and En­ergy Club can par­tic­i­pate in ca­reer fairs and set up men­tor­ing pro­grams to show young women what the pos­si­bil­i­ties are in the O& G sec­tor. I men­tor a few young women who have just started their ca­reers and it is ful­fill­ing to be able to share ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­change ideas, and pro­vide some guid­ance where needed.”

The good news is that there has been a ma­jor in­crease in the num­ber of women grad­u­at­ing in geo­sciences and en­gi­neer­ing over the past 10 to 15 years. Also more preva­lent to­day, is that nearly all of the ma­jors have ‘ Di­ver­sity Pro­grams’ in place, which has lead to less of the ‘ glass ceil­ing’ phe­nom­e­non, and brought about a ma­jor in­crease in fe­male Board Di­rec­tors.

“With­out a doubt,” says O’Don­nel, “we will see more fe­males in se­nior man­age­ment and board level po­si­tions in the forth­com­ing years. This will fur­ther change the dy­nam­ics of dis­cus­sion/ de­bate within or­gan­i­sa­tions, not only im­prov­ing the cul­tural and emo­tional well­be­ing of an or­gan­i­sa­tion, but adding sig­nif­i­cantly to the ad­vance­ment of tech­ni­cal and op­er­a­tional ideas and the man­age­ment of growth.”

What can women bring to the sec­tor?

Com­ment­ing gen­er­ally on the ra­tio of women in IT, Tracy Pound, founder of Max­imITy, feels that there’s a lot said but not enough that ac­tu­ally gets done. Pound be­gan her ca­reer as a pro­gram­mer in 1984 and was ap­pointed as a man­ager at a small soft­ware com­pany aged 21. She was then head­hunted by a divi­sion of BTR In­dus­tries ( for­merly Bri­tish Tyre and Rubber Co) where she was its first fe­male man­ager, the youngest to head up the com­pany’s UK IT op­er­a­tions at 27 years of age, and re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing an an­nual CAPEX bud­get of £ 8 mil­lion.

As a di­rec­tor, of the in­ter­na­tional, US- based IT trade as­so­ci­a­tion Com­pTIA, Pound has set out to help spear­head an ‘ Ad­vanc­ing

women in IT’ aware­ness drive. “IT is an in­dus­try that is cry­ing out for the at­tributes women pos­sess,” she said. “It needs peo­ple who are de­ci­sive, have good in­ter­per­sonal skills, and work well in teams. The tech­ni­cal skills can be taught but, un­for­tu­nately, chang­ing mind­sets is not so easy. I don’t know why but there seems to be a gen­eral at­ti­tude that IT roles are more suited to men.”

Damilola Owolabi,

CEO, Dreg­wa­ters Pe­tro­leum & Lo­gis­tics Ltd

Owolabi’s com­pany is ded­i­cated to help­ing clients se­cure li­censes and per­mits for Oil & Gas op­er­a­tions in Nige­ria, where oper­a­tors find that they are of­ten af­fected by bot­tle­necks usu­ally char­ac­ter­is­ing reg­u­la­tory / govern­ment re­la­tions and pro­cesses.

When we asked her how she found her­self work­ing in the in­dus­try, she replied: “I will say it was by ac­ci­dent or to put it suc­cinctly, the in­dus­try found me and I got stuck to it. Hon­estly, I am lov­ing it.”

Owolabi con­cluded: “In most coun­tries of the world, the need for com­pe­tent work­ers in the in­dus­try re­gard­less of their gen­der is fast grow­ing. As en­ergy com­pa­nies around the globe ex­pand their ef­forts to re­cruit, re­tain and de­velop em­ploy­ees with broader range of back­grounds, ex­pe­ri­ences, and skill sets - more gen­der bar­ri­ers are be­gin­ning to fall.”

“I’m look­ing for the in­dus­try to have a fair and bal­anced ap­proach to­wards women, which by its na­ture, in­volves rais­ing our pro­file so that we get no­ticed and not passed by.” Pound at Max­imITy

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