We dream of a world where energy is accessible to all. Resources that are all-inclusive and spread across the global community equitably. And equality and inclusion cut through the barriers of gender, economics, geography, culture, and all the boundaries that still exist in the modern world today. The discussion on the increase in the participation of women in the energy sector is not new. To create an equal world by an industry that talks about achieving equal distribution of resources, the dialogue can not afford to exclude the opinion and journey of the incredible women in energy.
“The problem of untapped female talent is not unique to O&G, but it is more acute. When compared with 18 other industries, O&G was last in female participation at entry-level and second to last in the C-suite. When compared with other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries, it ranked last.” – McKinsey
The McKinsey research further reveals that companies that have a significant share of female leaders outperform their peers. Considering the fact that the oil and gas industry has struggled to attract, retain, and promote women, the companies must consider this important insight to move forward. To build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. What are the challenges? From family to all the way through their career path, it could be anything. But the point is to recognize the problems and find a way.
With this conversation gaining ground, no more just in the background, but also at the leading oil and gas events, we meet Sofija Janosevic, the Human Resources Director at The Oil and Gas Year. Sofija brings with her years of experience in the energy sector while she served as the Country Director for this internationally recognized publication. In our Stories that Inspire series, Sofija shares her journey in the industry with us and also her perspective as a woman in energy. Here’s an excerpt from the exclusive conversation.
Stories that Inspire: In Conversation with Sofija Janosevic
“Information is Power” – The Oil and Gas Year. Where do you feel the awareness is lacking in the industry?
The Oil & Gas Year is a media and publishing company. We produce annual country-based reports on more than 30 oil and gas-rich markets worldwide, telling a story about the projects each market wants to promote and find investments or partnerships for. As we sit down with oil and gas executives and ministers for the interviews, we have a chance to hear also about opportunities and challenges that companies and the industry are facing across the globe.
What we keep hearing is that the industry is facing a challenge now when it comes to the terms of the crew change. How are we going to tap this new talent and integrate it into our workforce? In this regard, I feel there is a lack of awareness in the industry. We need to start working on how we present ourselves to a younger generation who will be starting their careers soon. How are we going to rebrand ourselves and to showcase what the industry actually represents?
Also, there is a lack of awareness outside of the oil and gas community. The younger generation does not have a proper idea of what the industry is doing. They see us as a fuel provider, or as an industry that is heating their homes. But they are not aware that more than 6,000 products are made from petroleum and that the oil and gas industry is enabling affordable energy in many developing countries.
So we need to start working on how to explain to young people that we do more than just run their cars and heat their homes: We are an exciting place to be and they should choose careers in energy. Another important aspect is to inform them about how much we are working on new technologies to offer clean energy.
As the Country Director of The Oil and Gas Year, you have worked in different parts of the world – Abu Dhabi, Iran, and China. How has your journey been and what’s your take on the present energy dynamics in these regions?
It has been very exciting, as my job has given me the opportunity to live in different countries, meet some amazing people and experience different cultures. Trust me, it enriches you in every way and helps you grow in both personal and professional ways. It makes you understand why inclusion and diversity are important on every level of your existence, in any kind of society.
I have especially enjoyed my work in the Middle East, and when it comes to Abu Dhabi and ADNOC, they are truly among the leading players in the industry. It is great to see how much they have grown since Dr. Sultan Al Jaber took over leadership, and now they are one of the most valued brands in the Middle East.
Why do you think a strong brand presence “online” matters for oil and gas companies today?
Any kind of brand presence matters. Companies need to showcase what they are doing –their new projects, the services that they are providing, the working environment they are building, and how much they are contributing to the community. You need to promote that online, via digital media.
The market is very competitive and clients and investors are associating certain characteristics with the brands of the companies. That’s why is important to pay attention to what you want your brand to represent and how you want to be seen, not just in the oil and gas community, but much more widely.
But it is also important that we start creating a different kind of promotion on social media, to reach out to the younger generation that does not know what we are doing, and engage them in a conversation. Furthermore, we have to do this on a platform that they are using, in the way they are using it.
What is your message to the women in energy?
Being a woman who works in the industry, I have to say I have always had the best experience in any country I worked in. I have always been treated with respect and kindness by our interviewees, and by people of the country.
What I could see is that we have many women working in business supporting roles: in legal, financing, HR, marketing and communications.
What we are missing is more women in technical roles and that’s why we need to inspire them to study and get enrolled in STEM programs, and then within organizations to give them the opportunity to progress.
Women also need to be more confident to ask for more in order for their career to develop in a specific way they want it to. They shouldn’t be waiting for someone to tell them that they will be promoted or relocated. They should be the ones to plan their careers, and in accordance with that speak to their HR or lead and other senior managers. In any job, like in life, you cannot shy away from the things you want. If you want to get something, go get it, or at least try.
How does it feel being at ADIPEC, especially when you are one of the esteemed speakers at this event?
It’s a great experience. ADIPEC is the best oil and gas exhibition and conference in the world. That’s due to the diversity of people and companies it gathers, as well as the topics that are showcased and promoted – from technical innovations to issues around inclusion and diversity in the industry.
It is really an engaging event, bringing all the relevant stakeholders from the industry to one place to discuss not only the present state but also the future of the industry.
(This is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with Sofija Janosevic and Energy Dais reserves all rights of publication.)