Image credit: Ama Nettey
Ama Nettey is an Oil and Gas Explorationist with Eni. Through her experience in the field, she has worked with teams to explore hydrocarbon prospectively in offshore blocks in parts of West Africa. She holds a B.Sc in Earth Science from the University of Ghana and Advanced Studies from the University of Perugia – IPGC. With over 6 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry in Ghana and parts of West Africa, she has gained experience with tender, vendor and permitting processes, as well liaising capabilities with National Authorities that regulate Oil and Gas in the sub-region.
With a passion for community inclusion and safety, Ama has participated in pre-survey community engagements within local communities along the coast of the Western Region of Ghana. As former Miss Malaika Ghana (a beauty and philanthropy pageant), Ama believes the world will be a better place if the underprivileged in the society are given an opportunity to grow, prosper and contribute their gifts to the world.
With this view and life mission, she is passionate about the well-being of the underprivileged in the society and has undertaken many volunteer activities in organizations such as MTN, Ghana Leprosarium, USAID in collaboration with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center and the Ghana Health Service in programs that are geared towards their health and safety.
Leveraging her soft skills in persuasion, influence, presentation, public speaking and business development; she not only works hard to progress her career and productivity, but also devotes time to raising fund, engaging key stakeholders and organizing interventions for the underprivileged. Ama is a member of the Toastmasters Leaders and Public Speaking club, where she continues to improve her skill sets in public speaking and leadership while serving as a coach in the development and mentoring of new members.
In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Ama shares insights into the world of oil and gas, how she copes in a male-dominated field and how women working in male-dominated fields can rise above the gender inequality and stereotypical perceptions. Lean in!
Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?
I am a high-performer who thrives in an environment that encourages nurturing, mentoring and growth. “I’ve never seen a smiling face that wasn’t beautiful…” this is my mantra and I believe women need to stand out in ways other than what society deems acceptable and enjoy themselves in the process.
I am an oil and gas professional with a specialty in Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production and experience in Europe and Africa. Simply, I work with diverse teams, using sophisticated software to identify potential subsurface areas where oil and gas can be drilled, and used for national socio-economic purposes.
How did you start out your career in the oil and gas industry and how long have you been in the corporate world?
My journey started in the oil and gas industry. 6 years ago, I graduated from the University of Ghana with a BSc in Earth Science, Petroleum major.
At the time when Ghana’s petroleum industry had taken a positive turn from the Jubilee discovery by Tullow Oil; thanks to God’s grace and the help of a good friend, I got my first industry job at the Ghana National Petroleum Commission as an intern (National Service). A few months later I came across a newspaper advertisement for a geoscientist with an international, multi-cultural company in Ghana.
I applied, and as grace and favour will have it, I landed my first job. I have been in the Oil and Gas Industry for a combined period of over 6 years.
Image credit: Ama Nettey
How has being a beauty queen (Miss Malaika 2010) shaped you to become a better career woman?
What in the world will make a 19-year-old stand before an audience of over a 1000 people? One thing… overcoming fear! As Miss Malaika 2010, I understand that a woman is not defined by who she is on the outside, but by who she is becoming on the inside.
I harnessed valuable skillsets of public speaking, persuasion, influence and ‘getting things done’ during the pageant which till today had added to my soft skills and growth in my career.
In a male-dominated industry such as oil and gas, women have the tendency to be stereotyped, overlooked during times of opportunity and sidelined. The tool that women need to develop and grow in such an environment is confidence. Miss Malaika developed confidence within me. I understood that if I could go through a pageant and come out successful, regardless of my imperfections, then there is no career I will choose to devote my time and energy to that I won’t win.
I was privileged to have Miss Malaika build my confidence; however, I believe in the 21st century there are several tools including books, seminars and even YouTube videos that can help young women discover their potential, hence build confidence.
Bottom Line: You don’t necessarily have to be a pageant queen to use the techniques of pageant contestants to excel in your career. Any woman can harness a marketable skill.
What are the gender disparities existent in the oil and gas industry & how does it affect women’s representation in this field?
Women remain underrepresented in the oil and gas industries across most levels, but especially at senior, executive and leadership roles. (‘Fueling the Next Generation’ report, 2014.)
“In recent past years, Women are often viewed as the minority in the room, and this has an impact on confidence, communication, and networking.
While the gender gap still exists, there is great potential to capitalize on the increasing number of women with the requisite qualifications as more women are graduating with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees.
How can women harness opportunities in a male-dominated field?
We need female role models to be more visible. When making a choice about which path to take, most of us look for other people whose example or success we can emulate.
Also, when we begin to understand our contribution is equally valuable to that of men, we will begin to make the best out of every opportunity that comes our way.
Tips for diversity and inclusion in the workplace (esp. for women)?
I believe companies with more diverse boards perform better. Diverse teams are more creative and more productive. Shifting the status quo requires identifying the parties responsible for bringing about change and how they can do it.
The first step is to ensure that women have equal opportunities regardless of roles. From there, remove barriers that do not support, retain and advance women.
Finally, recognizing that everyone has gifts and talents which are individually strong and collectively powerful within the teams we find ourselves.
Image credit: Ama Nettey
If you could have a lunch date with one woman you admire – who would that be and what would you ask her?
Michelle Obama. As cliché, as this may sound the former first lady, is one, I strongly admire for her intelligence, accomplishments and sacrifice for her family. As well as the warmth and radiance she exudes in any room she steps in. One question I will love to ask her is how she succeeded as the First Lady while maintaining a stable home.
When you’re creatively stuck, you…?
I spend time developing my self through reading leadership books and listening to audiobooks. I also enjoy making time for experiences through travelling with my husband, where we learn about different cultures that challenge our way of thinking.
Top 3 tips for women who want to/are currently working in a male-dominated field.
They say it’s a man’s world, I say not for long…It’s a new world for all! To succeed in a male-dominated industry as a woman we must
- Cultivate confidence: The best way to do this is we should be proud of our accomplishments no matter how little and celebrate our wins
- Be an aggressive lifelong learner: We can’t succeed in this fast-paced world unless we are constantly developing our skillset and knowledge base.
- Care about being respected and valued more than being liked: While likeability is a great asset being liked alone is not all it takes to succeed Respect for our work and respect for our colleagues go a long way. When you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.
My advice to women who are thinking of working in the oil and gas industry is that It’s an innovative, stimulating and dynamic industry, with many brilliant women helping to drive it forwards.
Don’t be put off by the fact that the industry is male-dominated. Your contribution will be enormously valued.
The Leading Ladies Africa weekly Career Conversation series focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.