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Building and Nurturing Relationships is a Cornerstone of Success in Any Field, Says Lynette Nyagah

As large-scale projects kick off in the East African region, engineers such as Lynette Nyagah, Project Lead at Bentworth Energy, are set to play an instrumental part in driving successful developments.

Lynette Nyagah, Project Lead, Bentworth Energy

As large-scale projects kick off in the East African region, engineers such as Lynette Nyagah, Project Lead at Bentworth Energy, are set to play an instrumental part in driving successful developments. Nyagah 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?

I embarked on my journey in the energy sector back in 2014, taking on the role of a cementing field engineer at Baker Hughes. This opportunity not only allowed me to gain hands-on experience in the field, but it also exposed me to the intricate dynamics of sales and business development across Sub-Saharan Africa. Through this multifaceted experience, I was fortunate to witness both the operational intricacies and the sustainability considerations inherent in running a successful enterprise.

In 2016, I embarked on a new chapter by joining Bentworth Energy as the Project Lead. The evolution of both myself and Bentworth became intertwined, and my contributions have played a pivotal role in establishing robust operational and quality systems. These systems have been instrumental in positioning Bentworth as a company that meets the rigorous international standards necessary to excel in our sector. Consequently, we proudly attained ISO 9001:2015, 18001:2015, and 45001:2018 certifications, which have empowered us to confidently compete on the global stage.

Reflecting on our achievements, a few noteworthy milestones stand out. The World Bank recognized Bentworth Energy through a featured case study titled “Persistence against the odds: Bentworth’s entry into oil and gas supply.” This illuminating account chronicled Bentworth’s transformative journey, highlighting the numerous challenges we overcame to establish ourselves as Kenya’s pioneering indigenous oilfield services provider.

Continuing our mission, Bentworth garnered consecutive honors at the Annual Upstream Awards. In 2018, we were acknowledged as the Oilfield Services Company of the Year, a testament to our commitment to excellence. Subsequently, in 2019, we were celebrated as the recipient of the Local Content Award, underscoring our dedication to fostering domestic industry participation. Personally, I was humbled to receive the Young Achievers Award from Excellence in Extractives in 2019, further motivating me to push the boundaries of achievement.

Notably, Bentworth’s journey began with a collaborative project between Bentworth and Baker Hughes. Over time, this collaboration led to the prestigious recognition of our first cementing project award in 2021, which marked a significant milestone. Building on this success, we secured another notable award for our cementing prowess in 2022, reaffirming our technical expertise and industry standing.

One of my proudest endeavors was conducting a survey that aimed to bridge the gap between the industry and universities in Kenya. This initiative, known as the “Mind the Engineering Gap” survey, was a pivotal step towards understanding the challenges faced by aspiring engineers. By deciphering the needs of both academia and the industry, I gained invaluable insights that have guided me in shaping Bentworth’s strategies to effectively guide and support students, ensuring their preparedness for a dynamic professional landscape.

In summary, my journey through the energy sector has been a dynamic exploration of operational intricacies, sustainable practices, and transformative growth. From my early days as a cementing field engineer to my instrumental role in Bentworth Energy’s remarkable trajectory, each step has reinforced my dedication to pushing boundaries and fostering excellence in every endeavor.

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?

Navigating the complexities of the energy industry has been a transformative journey filled with challenges that have ultimately shaped my professional growth. As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, I encountered skepticism and doubt about my capabilities. Overcoming this bias required a steadfast commitment to breaking stereotypes and proving my worth. Fortunately, I was lucky to have a supportive director who recognized my potential and empowered me, bolstering my confidence and providing me with the strength to forge ahead.

The obstacle of age also came into play, as the industry often associates leadership roles with experience and seniority. Being a young professional, I faced skepticism from those who expected to see older individuals in managerial positions. My strategy involved consistently demonstrating my competence, embracing a proactive approach to learning, and seeking out mentorship from seasoned professionals. Through perseverance and continuous skill development, I was able to establish myself as a capable and effective leader, irrespective of age.

Furthermore, as a representative of a local African company, I encountered bias that assumed international firms were better equipped to deliver quality services and employ competent professionals. To counter this perception, our company embarked on a journey to obtain ISO certification. This certification became a testament to our commitment to adhering to globally recognized standards, assuring clients and partners that we could deliver excellence on par with international counterparts.

One of the pivotal steps in overcoming challenges was through strategic partnerships with international companies. These collaborations not only provided us with exposure but also facilitated knowledge sharing and experience accumulation. Working alongside established industry players allowed us to garner valuable insights, refine our practices, and broaden our perspective. This, in turn, opened doors to newer clients and opportunities, enabling us to continually expand our reach.

In conclusion, the energy industry’s complexities indeed posed significant hurdles along my path. However, by confronting biases related to gender and age head-on, leveraging empowering mentors, and demonstrating commitment to quality through ISO certification and partnerships, I successfully navigated through these challenges. Each obstacle became an opportunity for growth, resilience, and ultimately contributed to the achievement of my goals in this dynamic and demanding sector.

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?

When it comes to excelling in the energy sector, there are several crucial pieces of advice that I would offer to young females looking to make their mark:

a.     Embrace Versatility: The energy sector is intricate and multifaceted, with numerous stakeholders influencing its operations. To navigate this complex landscape successfully, it’s essential to go beyond your designated role and broaden your skill set. For instance, if you’re a field engineer, consider delving into areas like Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment standards. Take the initiative to learn about supply chain intricacies, including inventory management, logistics, and procurement. This versatility not only enhances your effectiveness but also positions you as an invaluable asset capable of contributing across various dimensions of the industry.

  • Cultivate a Willingness to Learn: Acquiring a holistic understanding of the entire business ecosystem or a specific process is a fundamental key to longevity and sustainability in the energy sector. Approach each opportunity as a chance to learn, whether it’s through formal training, on-the-job experiences, or self-directed research. Stay curious and open-minded about emerging technologies, industry trends, and evolving regulations. A continuous learning mindset not only enhances your adaptability but also empowers you to make informed decisions that drive both personal and organizational growth.

c.     Value Relationships: Building and nurturing relationships is a cornerstone of success in any field, and the energy sector is no exception. Recognize that every individual within the industry, regardless of their role, contributes to the larger picture. Often, it’s the connections you make with colleagues, peers, mentors, and even support staff that can open doors, offer insights, and provide valuable guidance. Avoid burning bridges and instead focus on maintaining positive interactions with everyone you encounter. You never know who might play a pivotal role in your career journey, and maintaining good relationships can contribute significantly to your professional advancement.

In summary, excelling in the energy sector requires a combination of adaptability, a thirst for knowledge, and the ability to foster meaningful relationships. By embracing versatility, actively seeking learning opportunities, and valuing every professional connection, young females aspiring to succeed in the energy sector can position themselves for a fulfilling and impactful career journey.

A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?

A career in energy indeed demands a structured routine and dedication. My typical day starts early, at 5 AM, when I wake up and engage in a moment of benediction, setting a positive tone for the day ahead. Afterward, I ensure that my children are ready for their day, attending to their needs and preparing them for their activities.

Heading out to the office is a crucial part of my routine, and I make it a point to arrive an hour before the official start time. This extra time allows me to meticulously plan my day, ensuring that I’m well-prepared to tackle the challenges ahead. The morning kicks off with a vital meeting that covers both safety protocols and operational updates. This meeting serves as a compass, aligning everyone with the direction the day is taking and reinforcing essential safety procedures. I normally have a meeting with the directors to give them any updates in operations.

Throughout the day, I participate in various meetings that are integral to the functioning of our energy-focused environment. These discussions range from project updates to strategic planning sessions. Staying connected and informed through these interactions is crucial to keeping the operation running smoothly.

Despite the demanding nature of my career, I prioritize achieving a work-life balance. I make it a point to leave the office in a timely manner, ensuring that I am home early enough to share dinner with my family. This dedicated family time is immensely important to me and provides the necessary rejuvenation. I get a lot of support from my husband and nanny to ensure that my household is well taken care of.

Once my children are tucked in bed, I return to my work duties. This time allows me to catch up on any outstanding tasks that may have been pending from the day’s activities. It’s during these quieter hours that I find the focus needed to ensure everything is addressed, maintaining a sense of accomplishment as I wind down my day.

In conclusion, a career in energy demands discipline, time management, and a commitment to both professional and personal responsibilities. While it can be demanding, it’s this structured routine that allows me to navigate the challenges and rewards of the energy sector effectively.

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?

In looking ahead to the future of the energy sector, I anticipate several changes and advancements that I hope will contribute to a more sustainable and efficient industry. My vision revolves around three key points:

Innovation for Carbon Footprint Reduction: I envision a future where the energy sector embraces innovation to significantly reduce its carbon footprint while still recognizing the importance of fossil fuels in the current energy mix. To strike this balance, I believe that advancements in cleaner technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable energy sources, and more efficient extraction techniques, will be crucial.

Automation for Enhanced Efficiency: The energy sector’s transition towards automation has the potential to revolutionize its operational efficiency. I anticipate increased implementation of artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart technologies to optimize various processes, from exploration and extraction to distribution and maintenance.

Supporting Local African Companies: In the context of global energy advancements, it’s crucial not to overlook the potential of local players, especially in regions like Africa. I hope to witness increased funding and support for African companies that offer specialized services within the energy sector. These companies often possess unique insights into the challenges and opportunities specific to their regions. By empowering these local players with funding and resources, we can foster innovation tailored to local needs and ensure that African communities actively participate in shaping the future of energy.

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