While the energy sector has been a largely male-dominated industry, women are gradually taking on a more central role in driving innovative project developments. Individuals such as Katuiscia Laurence Ewane, General Field Engineer at SLB, play an instrumental part in driving the successful development of the industry. Ewane has a vision that Africa not only adopts but creates technology. Ewane is featured on the African Energy Chamber’s (www.EnergyChamber.org) list of 25 Under 40 Energy Women Rising Stars.
Please share a brief overview of your journey in the energy industry that led to your current role? What are some key achievements or milestones that you are particularly proud of?
I have always had an interest in STEM-related fields and that is what led me to attend Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique, where I graduated with a Master’s in Industrial Engineering. As a young graduate, I was intrigued by the energy sector and knew very little from the outside; but was all too familiar with the challenges I faced with energy in my day-to-day life. So, when I got the opportunity to work at SLB, I seized the chance! And so, my adventure in the energy sector began. I spent five years between the field and training centers getting a critical understanding of how this sector operates. Some of the achievements I am most proud of are:
- Pioneering research in SLB on a new approach for the integration of Drilling Fluids and Cementing fluids. This will help eliminate waste, optimize operations, and deliver services more sustainably.
- Completing a complex cementing operation on Mt Cameroon at 4000m of altitude.
- Community service under SLB Excellence in Educational Development (SEED) program where I helped deliver a well for a community and created a reading club in a public primary school.
Finally, I am most proud the ladies I was able to mentor through SLBs connect women platform. I believe that people are a great investment and that whoever gives back receives more.
The energy industry is known for its complexities. What were some significant challenges you faced along the way, and how did you navigate through them to achieve your goals?
The first challenge I encountered was culture. The energy sector is a melting pot of cultures (nationalities and company culture) and ideas, but all of them must help achieve a common goal: to deliver energy. To navigate this, I learnt more about how different energy companies I worked with operate and the culture of the different nationalities I worked with. Also, asking questions and repeating myself helped to avoid miscommunications.
The second challenge is change. The energy sector is dynamic, and plans change a lot, but this is not an excuse to waste time. You must value people’s time. The key is to always plan and if the plan fails always have a contingency in place that has been agreed with all the key stakeholders.
What advice would you give to young females aspiring to excel in the energy sector? Are there any specific strategies or mindsets that helped you overcome obstacles and reach your current position?
As a female, I did not have the same perspective as most of my peers and that negatively impacted my self-confidence. Over time, some strategies that have helped me manage this are:
- Knowing my worth! I am just as good if not better.
- I bring in a unique perspective and that matters.
- Work and Network! Both go hand in hand.
- Do not self-sabotage.
- It’s okay to ask for help. No one knows it all!
A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?
Demanding it is, but just as rewarding! The Fluids Engineer’s workday starts the day before with planning for the next day. Top of the morning, I wake up, pray, and do a 10-minute workout. I then consult daily reports and get in touch with the teams on/offshore to get the full picture of the status of operations. Following this, I engage in my daily operations meetings and client engagements. This is the most critical part of my day as communication with the client is key. We agree on what are our outstanding tasks, what task is urgent, and what to expect in the coming days.
I must also attend all my internal meetings and distribute tasks to my teams. After this, I can finally start designing cement jobs. I must make myself available and reachable in case any teammate runs into a bottle neck, or a critical decision needs to be made that will affect service delivery. Sometimes, emergencies arise, I need to be flexible and have contingency plans in place. If I can’t find a solution right away, I take a 5-minute break to refresh, it always helps!
The day always ends by reconnecting with family and friends to refuel and start all over the next day.
Looking ahead, what changes or advancements do you hope to see in the energy sector, and how do you envision your role in shaping that future?
The first area where I want to see change is the image of the energy sector. Many still believe it’s a man’s world, but things have changed: I hope to lead the way in showing young women out there, that this is a very dynamic sector, and that their input is much needed. As I grow in my career, my goal is to make room for women and influence other decision makers to open doors for women in this sector.
The second area where I want to see advancement is in the adoption of technology. I want to see Africa adopt technology and create technology. A transition to cleaner sources of energy is only possible though technology adoption. As a young African, I believe this is critical in the creation of the future we want to see for ourselves and for the generations to come. This starts from changing mindsets. My plan is to pioneer these conversations, and to keep pushing till we see change.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Energy Chamber.