Sunday 8, November 2015

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: ADIPEC’s acclaimed ‘Women In Industry’ Conference opened strongly today, bringing together for the first time male and female industry leaders to address the challenges and opportunities for women in the energy sector.

Hosted under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, this year’s conference included a keynote address by H.E. Sheikha Lubna, and invited women achievers to the stage for one-on-one interviews revealing riveting insights on their journey to becoming leaders in their fields.

“Women play a valuable role in the workplace across all sectors. Their unique abilities bring significant value to industries such as oil and gas, where attracting professionals with the right skills mix is essential to progress,” said H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi.

Today, we see more women taking on active roles than ever before, thanks to inclusive corporate policies and the unwavering support of our leadership. I believe this, together with community-wide education about the many career opportunities available, will encourage more women to seek career paths in energy,” H.E. Sheikha Lubna added.

Mr Ali Khalifa Al Shamsi, Strategy and Coordination Director at ADNOC and Chairman of ADIPEC 2015, said: “Advancing the oil and gas industry requires the collaborative efforts of all professionals, regardless of gender. There is no question when it comes to the value that diversity brings into the workplace, and by working together to ensure that women are given equal opportunities for career progression and development, we are also supporting the advancement of the energy sector.”

Industry reports indicate that progress for women in energy is being made slowly but surely. A 2014 survey of 272 female engineers by the recruiting company NES Global Talent found that 75 per cent of women  felt welcome working in the oil and gas industry, yet almost half (45 per cent) said they do not feel they get the same recognition as their male colleagues.

Furthermore, a recent analysis by LinkedIn, as reported by Fortune in August, found that women make up only 26.7 per cent of all oil and gas industry profiles on the professional networking site. That was the lowest percentage of any of the dozen industries examined — healthcare had the largest percentage, at about 59.8 per cent, and tech came in at the middle of the pack, at 30.6 per cent.

Sara Akbar, CEO and co-founder of Kuwait Energy, and the only female on Kuwait’s Wild Well Killers team back in 1991, emphasised the important role of women in energy and the challenges they face in their pursuit for leadership positions.

“There is no shortage of obstacles facing women in the oil and gas industry, and this remains a global issue that all companies in the sector should work toward addressing, if not already. But, we are certainly seeing a shift in the paradigm with more and more successful women forging a path as industry leaders, and the transfer of their knowledge and insights is invaluable in order to continue this trend,” Ms. Akbar said on the side-lines of her afternoon opening keynote interview today.

The first half of the conference was open to both men and women, followed by women’s only sessions, roundtable discussions, and a majlis gathering from 2pm onwards.

“Attracting top talent should really be a genderless pursuit, and forward-thinking companies have already shifted toward this approach across all industries, including oil and gas,” said Huda Al Ghoson, Executive Director of Human Resources at Saudi Aramco.

“Over time, and with this kind of unparalleled access to male and female senior leaders on this topic, we’ll see more and more strong women joining the ranks providing leadership, insights, and recommendations critical to the ongoing health of the industry,” Ms. Al Ghoson added.

The ‘Women In Industry’ Conference, organised as part of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC), has an established track record of raising passionate debate on the issues surrounding the role of women in the energy sector.

Claire Pallen, Conference Director at dmg events, the organisers of ADIPEC, commented: “We have seen Women In Industry grow into such a strong platform for knowledge exchange and shared insights, and we’re excited to have been able to host both men and women as part of the 2015 series.”

“Diversity and gender equality in the workplace is a challenge that both men and women must work together to overcome, and we are dedicated to providing a unique space for the industry to discuss effective strategies for change, enabling women to achieve their maximum potential as well as add value across the entire sector.”

Other keynote speakers at the event included Vicki Hollub, Senior Executive Vice President of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation and President of Oxy Oil and Gas, as well as Melanie Kenderdine, Director of Office, Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, US Department of Energy.