Nancy Asantewah Nkansah is the Resource Manager: Planning and Supply Chain for West Africa, at SLB.
As companies move towards incorporating sustainable practices into their business models, resource coordinators like Nancy Asantewah Nkansah excel in strategically aligning resource allocation and workforce coordination to not only drive operational efficiency but also to ensure eco-friendly initiatives regarding energy production. Nkansah 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 industry began in 2014 as a national service personnel with Schlumberger (now SLB), the largest offshore drilling company and leading provider of technology. After one year of national service, I was employed by SLB as a business systems coordinator, the SME for business systems used in job planning, resource allocation, and revenue recognition, among others. I offered training and troubleshooting to users. My efficient use and support of one of the people planning tools led to my promotion as Workforce Coordinator in 2017 covering Well services in Sub-Saharan Africa, a position that was typically reserved for someone with field experience who would better understand the complex wellsite environments in order to select the correct profiles for the jobs. I was very excited to have been given this opportunity, considering I did not have any field experience. I did this diligently and leveraged the people and resources available to me. I was responsible for maintaining an accurate workforce plan, which mainly focused on having a field population with the right competencies for existing and upcoming jobs in the short to tactical term. There were times that constraints went beyond finding people with the right competency, especially during the COVID upsurge, but I always managed to deliver. One of my highlights was putting together a competent crew during COVID amidst travel restrictions and a reduced workforce who flawlessly executed a complex job in Ghana for ENI. There were several congratulatory notes to us. I was interested in growing in resource planning and moved to inventory management in November 2020. Currently, I am the Resource Manager under the Planning and Supply Chain function for West Africa, managing and optimizing inventory through short- and long-term strategic planning.
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 energy sector is male-dominated and can be tough to navigate: though as a woman, you sometimes find yourself working twice as much as your male counterparts and striving for perfection to prove yourself. During my time as a workforce coordinator, there were times my male colleagues (some with more years of experience in the industry) had to follow instructions from me, and I could sense they would rather be taking this from their peers if given the choice. I remained confident and worked as required by my objectives. Thankfully, we are heading in the right direction on inclusion and gender balance in the industry. There are several resources and platforms available to empower, coach, and support women, and I am contributing to and taking advantage of these.
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 first thing I will say is to make sure to build your soft skills in addition to studying hard. In this environment, you will find equally intelligent people. Your grades will get you in, but your soft skills are one of the things that will set you apart. It’s also important to start networking early, right from school, learn to build strategic relationships; they will come in handy, and finally, when you do get in, be inquisitive and constantly seek more knowledge.
A career in energy can be demanding. Could you describe a typical day in your life?
Post-COVID, I keep a 3×2 work schedule where I go to the office for three days and telework for two days. My workday typically starts at 8 a.m. with a cup of coffee. I normally spend the first 30 minutes to one hour catching up on any pending actions from the previous day or earlier that day, considering my job interfaces with remote teams in different time zones.
Then I’d join the operations meeting, where we discuss ongoing and upcoming activities, red flags, and important actions. We are currently planning for about eight different new projects happening simultaneously in addition to ongoing jobs, so there is a lot to discuss and align on. I would typically have two or three other meetings before noon to address product demands, supply strategies, provide delivery updates, and align with logistics teams for the different countries I cover.
The activities and actions from the first couple of hours usually determine whether I will take a lunch break or not. When I do take a lunch break, I connect with my colleagues on diverse topics over a good meal in our breakroom around 12.30 p.m.
After lunch, I continue to execute actions required for demand delivery, including resource forecasting, preparing mobilization plans, devising scenarios to address short-term imbalances, and closing out documentation and administrative tasks. During late afternoon, when things begin to quiet down, I’m able to make time to monitor my key indicators, DSOH, spend versus approved budget, and devise strategies to optimize and reduce the inventory under my management worth millions of dollars. I wrap up my day around 5.30 p.m. and head home to my family.
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?
A more sustainable approach to the way we work, including with our clients and suppliers, all starts with a shift in mindset. Under Planning and Supply Chain, we now include climate weightage in tenders for inventory and other resources. In addition, SLB has set goals towards net zero, which include a reduced carbon footprint. Resource teams will be one of the key functions spearheading this via the optimization of transportation, among others.