Bahrain oil minister speaks about diversity, inclusion and opportunities for collaboration at LEWAS 2020

LEWAS 2020 ORA awardThe 2020 Leadership Excellence for Women Awards and Symposium (LEWAS) started with the welcome Address by His Excellency Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil, Kingdom of Bahrain

The minister is optimistic about the diversified career opportunities in the energy industry even in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that has particularly affected the oil and gas. According to him, the oil and gas industry is seeing the history repeating at the moment and it is the best time to join the industry as it signals the emergence of the next boom cycle. The industry is set to see the next boom cycle very soon, and the people who choose this industry as a career path, especially women, have the most significant opportunity for career development than any other sectors.

“It’s like the rule of thumb in investment: Buy asset when they are low and sell them when they are high. This is the time to enter the industry, and in my mind, there’s never such a better time,” the minister stressed.

He also encouraged the students entering universities to choose industry-related disciplines as majors. When oil prices are low, students usually avoid disciplines related to the industry such as chemical engineering, geosciences and mechanical engineering streams and so on, and suddenly the industry needs more talent. This happens in every boom-bust cycle, he explained.

The minister stated that it is essential to get people in all aspects in the industry and make sure the job creation potential of the industry is realised to the fullest and according to him, without women the industry can not achieve that completely. Empowering young local workforce is another major area and a critical career path because the true soldiers are the operators out on the field and with technology, it is becoming more accessible to women. He further stressed that it is important to make sure the workforce environment is conducive to empowering women. “For that, we need to have right policies, the right environment for women to operate,” he stressed.

On the second day (28 October), in an Q&A interview with the moderator Eithne Treanor, Energy Commentator, E Treanor Media, His Excellency Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa shared his thoughts on the benefits of diversity and inclusion, the challenges and how it can present unique opportunities for collaboration and creativity.

Speaking about how to get more women in managerial roles and board-level roles to bring a new future for the energy sector, the minister stated that organisations have to be ready in terms of right policy implementation and to make the work environment more conducive to women and create equal opportunity to empower women.

Digitalisation plays a critical role in the industry, and it is continuously changing the landscape. Energy efficiency, availability, liability, safety, Industry 4.0 – all the cutting-edge technologies need new skillsets and together with the experiences of operating large oilfields, petrochemical plants, refineries, process controls – all of these now require enhancements of skillsets. Therefore, many new jobs that come with technology are opening up tremendously new and exciting career paths, and women can leverage these opportunities.

The minister also stressed the importance of bringing next-generation leaders to the industry. “We hand over the industry to the next generation making sure it is resilient and strong.” The future will need more energy, and oil and gas sector is certainly going to be the biggest contributor to the global energy mix for many decades to come. The industry needs to make sure how to impact the climate change positively, how to bring digitalisation and how to attract new generation who not just leave the industry because there is a negative perception, because oil and gas is going to be very much needed in the future.

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