I got to know Nana through Girls in Science and Technology (GIST), from Ghana. I was curious about how she joined the Oil and Gas industry, and her journey in there so far. Here is an interview to answer that;
Hi Nana, thank you for joining me today
Hi Winnie, it is my pleasure to be here. Thank you for the invite.
What is your full name?
My name is Nana Amina Abubakar.
What do you do currently?
I am currently working as a Gas Dispatcher at West Coast Gas Ghana Limited.
How did you join the Oil and Gas industry?
Mine was not really a passion from childhood. I always loved science related courses and usually performed very well in them back in junior high and senior high school. I was also very energetic as I was involved in various sporting activities like track and field and hand ball competitions. So, later finding myself in an Engineering class was no shock to me.
With my initial dream of entering the health field to follow my dad’s footsteps, I was quite shaken when I rather ended up in the Petrochemical class at university. Luckily, this was a well-informed decision that was taken on my behalf and to this day I always thank my dad for knowing me so well and helping me find my way.
The ride through the course was not a gentle or smooth one but eventually I got a hand of it all and started thriving immensely. I loved and appreciated the engineering field more during my industrial attachments and especially during my national service with Schlumberger Seaco, Takoradi, where I got to apply most theories and knowledge I had acquired in school.
I later pursued a master’s degree in Engineering and Management from Coventry University, UK, offered by their partner school Ghana Communication College, Tesano. After my masters, I joined West Coast Gas Ghana Limited as a Gas Dispatcher.
Where I come from, this is not a common job title; what exactly do you do as a Gas Dispatcher?
Oh okay! So my duties include;
- Monitoring of gas network via Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) and periodic data to ensure compliance with nominations, gas specs and operating parameters.
- Issuing notifications and interacting with relevant stakeholders to address inconsistencies across the network and implement changes in nominations.
- Collating periodic data where live data is unavailable and preparing periodic gas network status updates for the principal client.
- Analyzing and recording all gas network events including supply interruptions, demand limitation and infrastructural constraints to support gas nomination revisions and forecasting.
- Preparing relevant daily operational reports and network event logs for issue to principal client and relevant stakeholders.
I hope these give a clear picture, haha.
What challenges have you faced as a female in Engineering?
One thing I will say was my major challenge was the lack of female mentors who I could look up to for guidance during my program. Companies worldwide are slowly trying to bridge the gap and empower more females into the engineering filed. However, during my time it was not that popular as it is today. The nature of engineering is such that it sometimes requires physical power to execute. This was one of my challenges at Schlumberger where physical power was mostly utilized. Colleagues always assumed I was the weaker teammate.
To help female engineers, I am currently a volunteer with GIST which has its presence in most of our tertiary schools. The goal of the platform is to coach females from high school level to the tertiary level in STEM. The team sat down and realised that this was lacking, and we solved it by creating this NGO.
How do you constantly overcome your challenges?
I am an adventurous lady and the prospects of engineering ginger me to excel and move forward. I love to solve problems and create innovative solutions and I think engineering bodies my whole personality. The sheer thought of me doing something new that will make life easier for a lot of people drives me forward in all spheres of my life. I always want to leave a positive footprint wherever I find myself which will make people remember me no matter where I am.
Tell us about your prestigious moments along this journey
I was awarded a distinction in my masters degree course. I partook in Coventry University’s Hackathon projects on SDGs; 2020 was about clean and affordable energy (SDG 7) and 2021 was about making cities resilient to withstand economic shocks (SDG 11). I have been a student leader in the position of General secretary for petrochemical students. I have also successfully designed documents (conditional formatting in Excel) to help make work simpler and cut down costs at work. I am currently working on designing a training module for the enter-gas network of the company.
Who are you outside work?
I love to explore, try new things, and have fun. I have this personal philosophy that says, “live in the moment, don’t let events around you pass you by, take care of your mental health and don’t always drown yourself in work”. With this I try new things all the time, be it cooking, singing, dancing or touring Ghana.
What is your favourite quote?
My favourite quote is one by Shakespeare which says “All the world’s a stage,and all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts”. I came across this quote in junior high school during my literature class and it has followed me till this day.
Please leave us with a word of encouragement for a young girl in STEM
I would like to tell a young and aspiring female STEMist to keep believing in herself. Hard work pays. You may be confused about what to do next, but this is why there are a lot of mentorship programs opening to help. You could join GIST in your university and be engaged in activities and eventually you will find the right path for yourself.
Keep doing you and make sure in engage in extra curricular activities because this is where we mostly understand our true selves and what we want to accomplish in life. The world is your stage and make sure your entrance and exit are great.
Thank you, Nana for sparing time for this interview, and for the good work you do through GIST. I remember reading part of your story in GIST! I am glad this world still has people like you out there. Thank you once again.