To mark International Women’s Day 2021, Kadijah Amoah shares her advice for women looking to advance in the energy sector.
Kadijah Amoah is the CEO for Aker Energy Ghana Limited. She is on the Executive Management Team of Aker Energy AS and holds directorships in affiliated AGM Petroleum Ghana and Aker Ghana Investment Company.
Kadijah holds a B.A. (Hons) in Political Science and Sociology, LLB (Hons), and an M.Sc. in International Business from the University of Ghana. She also holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Institute of Legal Practice and Development in Rwanda, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. She is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and she is a member of Oriel College.
Kadijah is an alumnus of the International Leader’s Programme of the U.K Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She is a member of Oriel Law Society, University of Oxford, the Oxford Business Alumni Network, the Rwanda Bar Association, and the East African Law Society.
What drew you to a career in the traditionally male-dominated energy sector?
Growing up I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household which did not attach gender stereotypes to roles, this gave me the confidence to pursue any career I wanted regardless of how society viewed it. My late mother of blessed memory always encouraged me to be confident and strong. She told me I was more than 10 men put together I have also been fortunate enough to have mentors, both male and female, who have groomed me to operate in the highest levels of any organization regardless of gender. I like challenging myself, and the energy industry is one of the most challenging industries worldwide which is why when the opportunity came for me to work in it, I did not hesitate.
Describe your leadership style in just a few sentences.
I have a collaborative leadership style and push everyone to be the decision maker in their units. I engage people at all levels of the company to better understand where we are winning and areas we may need to improve.
How has COVID-19 impacted gender diversity in both O&G and the wider energy sector globally and in Africa? Is there opportunity for women in this moment of adversity?
Historically, the oil and gas sector has been male dominated at all levels. This means there are fewer women in many O&G companies across the world. You could therefore expect that as the pandemic triggered drastic falls in oil prices and companies begun to significantly downsize, the already smaller numbers of women would have been inordinately affected.
However, in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity. My personal story which has largely been forged during this ongoing crisis and is ample testament that women can still thrive in the face of this adversity. My own experience shows that there are always opportunities for women, and I am happy to note that women make up 40% of my management team at Aker Energy.
What advice would you give to women struggling to make it past middle management to reach senior leadership roles?
Have a plan, work on your personal development. It may require a further development of your industry knowledge and experience. It is also important to put yourself out there. People assume they should be considered for a promotion because they have performed exceptionally at a particular role, this is not always the case, so identify champions who will root for you when required. Most importantly do not be afraid to switch companies if there is an opportunity.
How is your company working to attract the best young – especially female – talent to work in oil and gas?
We have in place policies that provide security for women in their jobs. There is a six-month maternity policy and furthermore a designated nursery for employees who do not have a support system to have their little ones with them until they reach nursery age.
Linked to this, what is the number one characteristic you look for in new hires?
Positive Attitude. Who the person is behind the paper and how well they fit into the company culture is very important. Their aptitude would have given them a chance to get to the interview table, their attitude on the other hand is a clear indicator of how challenges in the role will be handled.