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, according to the region’s women oil and gas professionals.

Persistence is key to making it in the oil and gas industry, said 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, said a statement.

Figures from Shell Global show that 29% 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% in 2005, to 18% in 2014.

Similarly, about 28% of ExxonMobil’s global workforce is women, and last year, 40% 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 five% of executive board seats in the top UK-headquartered energy firms are currently held by women, while 61% 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 July 30, are part of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (Adipec) 2015, a top energy event 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.”

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.

Although corporate tools and policies play a critical role in supporting women through their career development, Al Maqtari said 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.

The shortlist for the award will be announced on October 12, while the winners and runners-up will be revealed at the Adipec Gala Awards Dinner on Adipec’s opening night on November 9. The event will run till November 12.

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 November 8 at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara.

Source: Trade Arabia