Abu Dhabi, UAE – 16 July 2015 – Women who exude confidence both in the office and on the field are more likely to shatter the glass ceiling and accelerate their career progression, say the region’s women oil and gas professionals.
Persistence is key to making it in the oil and gas industry, says Amna Al Maqtari, Process Engineer at the TAKREER Research Centre, which is part of the Petroleum Institute campus, an Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) educational centre.
“Don’t take no for an answer,” Al Maqtari said. “If someone tells you that you cannot do something on the basis that you are a woman, don’t just walk away. Insist that you are capable of doing it yourself, and you will find that most times, people will listen.”
The oil and gas industry, traditionally a male-dominated domain, has witnessed great strides in attracting and retaining more women into engineering positions. Women comprise a larger proportion of the global energy workforce today than at any point in history.
Figures from Shell Global show that 29 per cent of its employees in supervisory/professional positions are women, and the proportion of women in its senior leadership positions have nearly doubled over the last decade – from 9.9 per cent in 2005, to 18 per cent in 2014. Similarly, about 28 per cent of ExxonMobil’s global workforce is women, and in 2014, 40 per cent of management and professional new hires were women, significantly higher than the percentage of women in its overall employee population.
However, there are still challenges to be met. According to a 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 5 per cent of executive board seats in the top UK-headquartered energy firms are currently held by women, while 61 per cent of leadership boards have no women present at all.
Continuous efforts will have to be made to support the industry’s female workforce, and distinguishing women achievers as role models is an important component of that process, according to women in the industry.
The ADIPEC 2015 Oil & Gas Woman of the Year Award will recognise a female whose career has progressed at a rapid pace, demonstrating the empowerment process in her company that encouraged her to reach her aspirations.
The ADIPEC Awards, which span eight categories and are currently open for nominations until 30 July, are part of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2015, one of the world’s top three energy events and a global meeting place for oil and gas professionals.
Hosnia Hashim, Vice President – Operations at the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, one of Forbes Most Powerful Arab Women in 2014, and a speaker at this year’s ADIPEC ‘Women in Industry’ Conference, said: “Recognising women achievers in energy is more important than ever to challenge the perception that the oil and gas industry is a male domain. The journey to success is not an easy one, but can be achieved with commitment, determination, and the support of corporate policy. The ADIPEC 2015 Oil & Gas Woman of the Year Award helps to transform what may seem as only a dream for young women to pursue a career in energy into a tangible reality.”
Maria A. Capello, Consultant – South and East Kuwait Directorate at the Kuwait Oil Company, said: “The ADIPEC Awards are without a doubt one of the most prestigious global recognitions in the oil and gas industry. The ‘Oil & Gas Woman of the Year’ category is an outstanding opportunity to recognise the many achievements of the extraordinary women who work in our industry.”
“Particularly for the Middle East, this Award will also be a motivational channel through which the industry can spotlight the amazing women from the region who have grounded their success on incredible accomplishments, making them natural role models for tomorrow’s generation of women professionals,” Capello added.
In addition to recognising female achievers and bringing to light role models within the industry, the Oil & Gas Woman of the Year Award is a powerful message to society that women are equally capable and can play significant roles, said Reem Al Anbari, Chief Financial Officer at Borouge, an ADNOC Group company, and a speaker at the ADIPEC 2015 ‘Women in Industry’ Conference.
“Many organisations are now focusing on diversity as a way of increasing their effectiveness and competitiveness by attracting the best talent regardless of gender. In many countries, women comprise more than half of the population, and leaving this resource untapped is a detrimental mistake. The oil and gas industry is an engine for the economy, and we need to get women involved across all corporate levels to change the dynamics and make sure their voices are heard, not overlooked or ignored,” Al Anbari said.
“Thanks to the UAE government’s unwavering support for women, many companies offer effective career development tools and policies – it is now up to women to take advantage of these opportunities by asking questions, taking risks, and being involved in major projects to try and deliver results,” added Al Anbari.
Mariam Al Badr, Director of Corporate Communications at Dolphin Energy, said: “When it comes to oil and gas, there tends to be negative connotations about women as engineers, working offshore and developing a career in the sector. As someone who works in communications I can see that there is a strong need to dispel these misperceptions by engaging more effectively with females and profiling the different opportunities and roles they can assume within the energy sector.”
“The notion of equal opportunity, training and education is very important,” added Al Badr, who is also a speaker at this year’s ADIPEC ‘Women in Industry’ Conference. “For example, at Dolphin Energy it is made very clear what is needed to progress to the next level. This is of great help because not only are you given clear targets to aim for but also as a woman you feel part of the company’s future plans for success. It is very motivating.”
Although corporate tools and policies play a critical role in supporting women through their career development, Al Maqtari says before looking outside for external support, it is important that women look inside first.
“Managing your internal expectations is key, and this holds true for any employee whether male or female. We are here to prove that women are just as capable and competent as men, and so expecting that you will receive special treatment because you are a woman does not work in our favour,” said Al Maqtari.
The best resource in the workplace for women looking for guidance on their journey to success are their senior colleagues, Al Maqtari added.
“My superiors are my greatest mentors and have always lent their support and advice when I needed it most. So finding someone that you can trust – a person who will not push you aside, but push you forward – can be of great help, especially in times of difficulty,” she said.
Awards entries will close on 30 July 2015, with the shortlist announced on 12 October 2015. Winners and runners-up will be announced at the ADIPEC Gala Awards Dinner on ADIPEC’s opening night, 09 November 2015. ADIPEC will be held from 09-12 November 2015.
ADIPEC will also be hosting its annual ‘Women in Industry’ event, bringing together women leaders in the oil and gas industry to share their experiences and challenge the perception that energy is a male domain. For the first time, the full-day event will also invite male speakers to the panel to shed light on the challenges and opportunities for women in the energy arena. The ‘Women in Industry’ Conference will take place the day before ADIPEC 2015 opens, on Sunday, 8 November at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara.