1. Tell us about yourself If I could summarize it in one sentence, I would say that I am a person who does not like to leave space for dull in her life and that incites to discover and try new experiences. I must say I am more of a "simple and peaceful life" person and growing up in the countryside nourished in me this passion of being close to nature, that is why I am a regular Hiker and Scubadiver. I am addicted to plants in such a way that my balcony is being transformed into a small garden where we find flowers side-by-side with veggies. I have this conviction that if we all take the time to plant something indoors on our windows or balconies, it could have a positive impact in wider ways: be it mental health and destressing or Environmental and sustainability. I am a "literary groupie" with an artistic sensitivity towards painting and music and I have this 'Otaku' side that can sometimes take over my personality!
2. Can you tell us about your background and your career? I hold a chemical Engineering degree from Boumerdes' University, Faculty of Oil and Chemistry, and I am now, working as Technical Sales Lead for Schlumberger Production systems' Division within North Africa Region.
I am the only woman in this role in MENA region and the only one with Chemical and Process Engineering Profile within NAF. What I love about this position, is that it requires an excellent technical knowledge, professional maturity and a good sense of communication and responsibility and being able to challenge myself by making use of all of these skills in one job is a not only passionate but also an achievement. My career journey started as an Operations Process Engineer in Sonatrach which was an Epic and very interesting experience from which I learnt a lot either on the personal or on the technical side. I had to undertake a unique experience as the first and only female Process Engineer in that field, supervising a team of men older than me in age and career. I looked after the daily operations while keeping a good momentum when it comes to maintaining good HSE practices.
During my whole career journey, commitments to environmental causes and sustainable development have always been into the core of my engagements as I believe that we can change how things flow from the inside.
3. What does women's leadership mean to you? In my opinion, Leadership is more about setting direction, building inspiring vision and mapping out the way to win as a "Team" or "organization" using a set of management skills and tools. So, it depends principally on to what extent a person is able to put this set of skills into practice and how efficient their leadership strategy/style is. Thus, efficient leadership is completely independent of the person's genre. It is important to highlight that there is no shortage of qualified women to fill leadership roles: Women make up almost half or more of Algeria labor force. They outnumber men in earning Engineering/master’s degrees, medical and legal degrees, as well. Yet, from the courts to hospitals and universities, women remain underrepresented in senior leadership roles.
For me it is a conceptual issue originating from the nature of the society and how boys and girls are raised within a single family that unconsciously rearrange each individual's tastes and ambition based on their gender.
In addition, I believe that even in the collective imaginary, Leadership is, often thought of as masculine and not viewed as favorably when exhibited by women, which, in some cases, might drive women to adopt a "masculine" style in their leadership, thinking this is the way it should be done!
4. What are the challenges/obstacles faced by women in the O&G field in Algeria?
Honestly, I believe women meet more obstacles than men when it comes to taking a decision related to their career. And to go further in their professional journeys, they are more required to concede than men do in most cases.
I can cite Lack of flexibility balancing work and family, for instance. And let me mention some numbers here: According to a study conducted by McKinsey in 2020, women make up just 15% of the world's oil and gas workforce, 17% of the power and utilities sector and 32% of the renewable energy workforce. In Africa and the Middle East, only 9% of women are in senior management positions in the Energy sector with gender diversity decreasing with seniority. Women make up less than 8% of technical jobs in the oil and gas. The contrast here, is that the Oil and gas industry has always been more of a man-dominated sector. It's only some couple of years ago, when more women started to be interested in pursuing a career in the Energy Sector.
However, we witness that Leaders comprehended that, for a sustainable business, we need more balance in gender equity. Women now are more encouraged to go beyond the limits established by the society unconscious biases, than ever before. It is curious and very important to see how much of advantages can be generated when giving the chance to women to see what's new they can bring to the table.
5. You are selected among the 100 outstanding female executives in the african Oil and gas industry, can you tell us more about this award?
Patrick Ndungidi from Forbes Afrique is a journalist and a storyteller that dedicates his time to speak about African Talents (Les Acteurs d'une Afrique en pleine Mutation). He took the initiative to screen out the most Outstanding Arican profiles of Women Leads in Africa in the Oil and Gas Industry.
It happened that, in the previous years, I gave interviews to The Huffington Post (HuffPost) and to Women's Energy Council Mag as a Female Engineer working in the energy sector and how challenging was to be leading a Team of Men and being the only woman among them. And that is how he knew about me. He, then visited my profile on LinkedIn and concluded, based on my career development that I stand out among the 100 most shining Executives Ladies in the Oil and Gas Industry in Africa.
6. What advice do you have for Algerian women who want to pursue a career in the oil and gas sector?
I cannot think of a better advice than to believe in themselves, always accept to be challenged and try to widen their curiosity to develop themselves and aspire for more.
_by Nina Chalah; ALWIS Petroleum Community Leader