Career Development

Strategies To Empower Women Leaders: Five Takeaways From Experts at the 2024 SPE Nigeria Council Women Leadership Lecture Series

SPE Nigeria Council’s Women Leadership Lecture Series, held in early March, celebrated women in the oil and gas industry with the theme “Inspire Inclusion: Promoting Women’s Participation in Governance and Leadership.”

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Women remain underrepresented in leadership roles in corporations, institutions of higher education, and the political sector, especially in light of the changing population demographics.
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Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation. Women remain underrepresented in leadership roles in corporations, higher education institutions, and the political sector. Women’s representation in national and state governance will promote greater equality in politics and support stronger representation of women’s issues in policy formation, as well as serve as a means of ensuring better accountability for women. Data shows that 26.5% of parliamentarians in single or lower houses are women and only six countries have 50% or more women in parliament in single or lower houses. The empowerment of women is a global imperative.

In various industries, the glaring lack of gender diversity in leadership stifles innovative thinking and limits opportunities, perpetuating the gender leadership gap. This year’s SPE Women in Leadership and Leading Strategies (WLLS) Conference, held 7-8 March, recognizes this pressing issue and is poised to drive meaningful change by advocating for the promotion of women’s participation in governance and politics. In today's dynamic and competitive professional landscape, the need for gender diversity at a leadership level has become increasingly recognized. While progress has been made, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. As such, it is crucial to empower women with the confidence and skills required to assume leadership roles.

This panel session aims to empower women to assume leadership positions, and this requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses building leadership confidence through mentorship, skill development, resilience, networks, and advocacy. By implementing these strategies, organizations and society can create a more inclusive and diverse leadership landscape, maximizing the potential of women leaders and fostering a culture of equality and success.

As part of our commitment to this year's International Women's Day theme, the session further aims to navigate the nuanced landscape of self-perception, emphasizing actionable approaches that resonate with the evolving roles of women in leadership.

The line-up included industry experts discussing the importance of women in leadership positions.

Eloh Olaniyan: Olaniyan, Shell Nigeria’s Safety and Environment General Manager, shared her experiences in developing confidence throughout her career. She emphasized the importance of role models and standing against discrimination and bias. Olaniyan advocated for women to be given opportunities to serve on boards and not be limited to ordinary roles within organizations. When asked about building confidence, she highlighted that confident leaders are made, not born, and these qualities can be learned through consistent practice. She also noted that leadership confidence is delicate, and adjustments can be made when necessary, advising against always blaming oneself. She concluded by stating that confidence is a result of conditioning, influenced by what one sees and hears. She encouraged women to seek out positive influences and environments. She also used a metaphor, suggesting that if you surround yourself with chickens, you will adopt chicken-like behavior, implying the importance of choosing the right environment for personal and professional growth.

Edith Uche: Uche, Seplat Petroleum Development Company’s Company Secretary/General Counsel, began by sharing a personal story of being the only woman in an engineering firm and how she overcame this challenge by being confident in her abilities. She implemented strategies that led to significant achievements in her professional career, eventually earning her a leadership position. Uche stressed the importance of investing in education and skill development believing that this investment will raise a generation of competent and confident women leaders. Additionally, she encouraged women to engage in self-audits and self-awareness practices to progress in their careers. She emphasized the importance of being bold and proactive in seeking out opportunities for advancement.

Omobolanle Bello: Bello, a regulatory engineer, shared her experience of boosting her confidence by making herself available for challenging roles. She recounted how, when given the opportunity at work, she successfully handled projects that were considered difficult by her male colleagues. This experience taught her the importance of women actively seeking opportunities and unlocking their potential. She encouraged women to take the leap and believe in their capabilities, stating, "Give it a try and say you can do it." Regarding building confidence, she emphasized the importance of a flexible work environment for women. She believes that such an environment inspires confidence and enables women to achieve a work-life balance. She advocated for the implementation of work-life balance policies at all levels to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Aramide Adeyooye: Adeyooye, who has served in the Lagos State Government, shared how her father's support and encouragement were instrumental in her ambition to become an engineer, as he is a champion of education. She emphasized the importance of women being bold enough to embrace bias, viewing it as a challenge to overcome rather than a problem. She encouraged women to rise above bias and demonstrate their value and worth. Additionally, she highlighted that her achievements paved the way for the recruitment of many women into her company. When asked about how women can build confidence, she emphasized the need for women to actively demonstrate their worth, as opportunities are not always handed to them easily.

Funmi Ogbue: Ogbue, whose career included roles in human resource management, shared how choosing a career path helped her succeed in life. She emphasized the importance of women taking control of their professional development by making deliberate decisions. Ogbue highlighted that success is a result of focused efforts over time, and those who are determined can make a difference. She stressed the need to eliminate stereotypes and biases in women's leadership, as there is no single image of a successful woman. Regarding building confidence among women, she suggested that women should choose a profession and join professional bodies like SPE to enhance their professional visibility through leadership roles. She also emphasized the importance of investing in education and mentorship for women to further their professional growth and development.