It helps to have someone who can see what you can’t see in your strengths and skills as you work in different aspects of the Oil and Gas value chain
More women are joining the Oil and Gas industry presently. In our interview with Reshma Shah, an Oil and Gas expert, she shares insights on her experience being a woman in the sector, challenges and opportunities available and how stakeholders can come together to ensure more women representation is achieved in the sector.
Reshma is a successful Chartered Accountant with over 20 years multi-disciplinary international and local experience in areas including Business Strategy & Performance, Risk Management, Change Management, Tax, M&A and Sustainability.
She has been responsible for key project enablers in water, land, power, waste management, local content & capacity building, community consent, security & conflict management, ESIA, external affairs and liaising closely with Government, civil society, community and joint partners.
Personal Career Highlight
I have had the opportunity of working across different sectors before working in the Oil and Gas.
My biggest career highlight is that I have been able to gain experiences from different fields in different sectors in the several capacities that I have served in. These experiences act as toolkits that I use to undertake every task and performance. This also gives me the confidence to try different roles and sectors as I know I have developed transferable skills.
Challenges and Opportunities
The oil and gas sector has been termed as a male-dominated one because of its labor intensive nature but also given the geographical locations that some of the operations run from. The sector, however, has seen the number of women joining the sector increase in the past years in different areas of the value chains.
Being a woman in corporate oil and gas has not been majorly challenging; the biggest challenges were proving your place when working in an operating unit. I suspect we will need to keep proving ourselves more than our male counterparts but I have met so many amazing women working in Oil & Gas that I am sure we will eventually move towards more equal opportunities.
Because I have held very different roles within the sector, I have been challenged based on my abilities and capabilities given I may not have the number of years or deep experience in the area that others may have. . Rather than look at this as a disadvantage, I choose to use this as an advantage to set up a place for myself because my varied experience allows me to take a more holistic view on issues and challenges. The secret I believe is in being strong within you, dig into that set of toolkits you have developed and exuding confidence at all times.
The Oil and Gas sector requires different set skills in all the levels. This presents an opportunity for women. They can take up functional roles, such as finance, legal, and accounting or technical roles such as engineering, operations, logistics etc..
AWEIK and its significance to your career
AWEIK has brought several women with different specialty together under a single umbrella including myself. It provides and shares information with women about job opportunities, mentorship and empowerment programs, policy advocacy and networking ideas in the Extractives Sector.
Kenya has a significant amount of talent and skilled labor, unfortunately women have not been able as much to take advantage of the careers available in the Oil and Gas industries. It is interesting to note the role that AWEIK plays in pushing for these conversations and its dedication to lobbying for equality and women inclusion in the sector.
I would highly recommend AWEIK membership to every woman in the Oil and Gas value chain. Young women need mentoring and career guidance and AWEIK is a great place to start.
What actions should stakeholders in the Oil and Gas sector focus on to accelerate change, increase diversity, and foster a better gender balance in the sector
A company is richer and greater when it is gender-balanced. There is a need for continuous lobbying to address the imbalance in the Oil and Gas sector.
In addition, more young women are joining the Oil and Gas Sector because they have been mentored, empowered and are more aware of the different opportunities available. Organizations and associations need to create networks that promote the advancement and participation of women in the Oil and Gas sectors.
Interview by Grace Otieno