Nidra Araba Yebuah is the Digital and Integration Account Manager for Ghana and Equatorial Guinea at SLB.
As a global service company, SLB has been at the forefront of many large-scale energy developments. In Africa, the company continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the sustainable production of oil and gas. Individuals such as Nidra Araba Yebuah, the Digital and Integration Account Manager for Ghana and Equatorial Guinea at SLB, play an integral part in driving this agenda. Yebuah is featured on the African Energy Chamber’s 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?
My journey in the mainstream energy industry began in March 2012 at SLB. Coming into the industry as a young trainee, I encountered a fast-paced, highly specialized environment with a sharp learning curve that required me to proactively develop my technical competence and achieve key performance objectives.
Over the last ten years, I gained experience as a Borehole Geologist and subsequently became a Senior Geologist with an expanded skillset ranging from borehole image analysis to integrated field development studies as well as onsite software support for clients in Ghana. I also engaged in technical sales, working with the core sales team to successfully close out several opportunities. This led to my current role as the Digital and Integration Account Manager for Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.
During my career, I was privileged to lead a fractured basement characterization study as a young Borehole Geologist between 2013 and 2014. As a result of this study, several technical papers were published, one of which I presented during the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, 2014 in Denver, USA. I am also proud of coaching and mentoring several younger colleagues within SLB to successfully passing their promotion reviews during regional management sessions.
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?
Despite the progress made, the energy industry remains male-dominated and as such challenges including unconscious bias and gender stereotyping persists. I encountered these challenges at various stages in my career. The challenges were mostly not evident but quite subtle, often showing up in everyday conversations and interactions with the resultant effect making me second-guess and feel less confident.
Acknowledging the presence of these challenges rather than rationalizing and ignoring them, was a vital step in rising above and overcoming these issues. Speaking up and having a dialogue whenever I encountered any kind of bias or stereotyping became second nature to me, and this helped to foster better work relationships. I also sought advice and mentorship from senior female colleagues on resolving complex situations.
Being assertive and relating with mentors enabled me to grow my mental capacity and become more confident in my approach to doing my technical work whilst I looked for opportunities to step up and take on leadership roles where necessary.
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?
The energy sector is vast and has a multitude of opportunities. Define your career goal as early as possible to help you carve out your niche. Decide on where you would want to be ten to fifteen years into your career. Split the huge goal into smaller targets and research on what skills are needed to be that person in future. The smaller targets will help you identify what kinds of roles you need to be involved in to acquire the requisite expertise needed to get you to your main goal. Build your personal brand as you go along, honing your strengths and proactively working to reverse your weaknesses.
Actively search for opportunities to develop leadership as well collaboration skills which are important attributes required to excel in the sector. Volunteering at the workplace, professional organizations and community are effective ways to develop as a blended skill set of technical and soft skills are necessary to achieve a healthy balance as a well-rounded energy professional. Also, always identify and connect with senior supporters as they tend to be beneficial in helping to steer your career.
Most importantly, perform your job with utmost diligence and excellence whilst endeavoring to be a reliable collaborator.
A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?
In my current role, my day begins with making a comprehensive to-do list with specific actions that I need to take within a specific time limit. Thereafter, I follow-up with customers on prospects updating my opportunity-tracker with comments and actions. I work with multiple business systems that I need to update periodically and this forms part of my daily tasks.
Considering SLB’s vast solutions, I regularly spend time updating my knowledge on specific products and services based on my customers’ needs and pain points. This includes organizing internal technical meetings with the technical experts to delve deeper into the client’s needs and identify solutions to recommend to the customer. A portion of the day is dedicated to developing and maintaining relationships within clients’ organizations via physical visits, phone calls and online meetings.
The daily routine is interspersed with checking and responding to emails whilst routinely networking with my colleagues in other divisions. My day ends with reviewing completed tasks and drafting follow-up actions for 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?
It is no hidden fact that the energy industry is undergoing a paradigm shift with increased focus on decarbonization whilst balancing our efforts to meet the growing demand for energy as we combat climate change. I hope to see a healthy collaboration between stakeholders including government, energy companies, academia, civil society amongst others, jointly working to develop and implement policies that address energy poverty and energy efficiency, especially in Africa. A change in mindset is needed to recognize the importance of digital technologies and solutions to the success of the African energy landscape – for fossil fuel and renewable energy.
In my capacity as an energy professional working as an Account Manager, my desire is to offer solutions that help my customers decarbonize their operations to work more efficiently and sustainably. Personally, I also intend to continue being an advocate and a mentor for the development of female STEM professionals to contribute to the talent pool in Africa.