Women in Petrochemical Engineering – Ibtissam Rebai

Let’s take you on a unique career journey where Ibtissam moves from holding a degree in Petrochemical Engineering to becoming a Business Development Manager for one of the leading suppliers of Hydrogen, globally;

Hi, Ibtissam! Thank you for volunteering to share your STEM journey with us! We are excited to learn about your career transition
Hi Winnie, thank you for having me.

Please introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Ibtissam Rebai from Algeria. I am currently working as a Business Development Manager for Air Products, the world’s largest supplier of Hydrogen. I hold a master’s degree in Petrochemical Engineering from the University of Boumerdes. My professional journey has been enriched by diverse skills combining technical expertise with a strategic vision to drive growth and success in various industries. To further enhance my business acumen, I am currently pursuing an MBA in a business school.

How did you end up in this field of Business Development with your STEM background?
I started my career seven years ago as a technical sales engineer with a small consulting company in the oil and gas. My duties involved representing several foreign partners and helping them to develop their business in Algeria. I successfully propelled their business growth within the local market and was able to handle multiple projects in different lines of business lines. For example, sales of downhole equipment, spare parts trading, chemicals, and other products and services related to the oil and gas industry. Where I had the pleasure to collaborate with major domestic and international Oil &Gas companies operating upstream and downstream in Algeria.

Subsequently, I transitioned into a marketing executive role in a drilling service company, leveraging my business background to develop an effective marketing plan. In my recent roles, as a Business Development Manager, I honed my strategic skills to drive global business growth and cultivate valuable business partnerships. As a woman in STEM, I am keen to focus on expanding my knowledge base to stay ahead in this dynamic and competitive industry.

What has been your biggest challenge coming from a Petrochemical Engineering background to Business Development?
Balancing work and life responsibilities, especially in business development, can be tough for women who juggle caregiving duties. Learning effective time management and task prioritization has been crucial for me in managing these challenges.

What else drives your motivation to keep moving, especially when times get tough?
My passion is to create a positive impact as a woman in STEM. I am fueled by curiosity and a profound desire to contribute to the world. These are my sources of strength and motivation during difficult moments. My goal is to serve as an inspiration and role model for other women in STEM who may still seek sources of encouragement.

Let us talk about your prestigious moments, whether in Petrochemical Engineering or Business Development. We want to celebrate you
One of my proudest achievements comes from my experience with a small chemical manufacturer based in Scotland. We had an ultimate goal of expanding our business into Algeria. Despite starting with no customers and being relatively small, our dedication to success paid off. In a market crowded with established competitors, we persevered, confident in our abilities. I still vividly remember the happiness of receiving our first order. As the only person representing the company in Algeria, I served as their voice, passionately advocating for our products and capabilities. Through our determination and efforts to convince potential clients, we successfully secured significant contracts. Looking back, I’m proud to have played a pivotal role in our success story.

Who is Ibtissam outside of work?
I am a dedicated person to sporting activities, a podcast enthusiast, an avid reader, and a passionate traveler. Sports keep me disciplined and foster teamwork, while podcasts and books fuel my curiosity and knowledge in various fields. I cherish exploring new cultures and landscapes, which broadens my perspective and enriches my experiences. My diverse interests complement my professional growth, contributing to a well-rounded approach to both life and career.

What is your favorite quote?
Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live” ~ Mae Jemison, first African American woman astronaut in space.

In closing, what are your words of encouragement for a young girl in STEM, who might be interested in pursuing Petrochemical Engineering?
Hi there, incredible young STEM enthusiast! Being in STEM is not only a sign of cleverness, it’s a testament to your curiosity, determination, and problem-solving abilities. Remember, every challenge you encounter is an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace your uniqueness, push through obstacles, and never doubt your ability to make a difference in the world. Keep dreaming big and reaching for the stars.

Thank you so much, Ibtissam! I am still excited about you being our first guest from Algeria. Thank you for responding to the call. And, for teaching us what else we can use our background in Petrochemical Engineering for. We wish you all the best!

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