#InspiringInclusion: investing in diversity across the MENA region

image is Championx IWD Combo

There are still significant strides to make in amplifying the voices of women and promoting cultural awareness to forge a more inclusive future for the global energy sector, feel Maram Al Ghailani (left) and Emma MacGill.

Diversity and inclusion are essential for the evolution of the global oil and gas sector. Embracing a range of perspectives, backgrounds, and talents enhances workforce representation and fosters greater innovation and workforce sustainability. A more inclusive industry is also better equipped to navigate the current challenges of the energy transition and unlock the full potential of the sector.

With a 35% gender balance across its district teams in Oman and Qatar, ChampionX, a market leader in speciality chemicals for the energy sector, has one of the most highly diverse teams across the MENA region. Two rising female stars from the ChampionX team discuss their contribution to diversity and inclusion in the business and the changes they see in the industry.

The diversity in business is not just down to its gender split. The teams across Oman and Iraq comprise colleagues of eight nationalities who speak six languages. They come from different cultures, different backgrounds and different religions in an eclectic mix which is reaping sound business benefits.

Unique experience

Originally from Aberdeen, recently appointed District Manager Emma MacGill, has worked with ChampionX for 10 years. She spent the first six of those years in Scotland, where she held roles including offshore technical support engineer and district sales representative. Emma then worked in Oman for four years, before transferring to Qatar in 2023 as a District Manager.

“Working offshore is a really unique experience, the community and camaraderie that you develop with the people you work with in that bubble, the safety focus, the shifts, the intensity of the marine environment. There still aren’t as many females in the offshore environment as there could be, but this really is changing all the time and actually, the experience of working on varying assets was a massive help with my development and in my roles in the Middle East.

“Over my career, I’ve worked across so many cultures, some very locally focused and others that were really international and I feel it’s given me a great base of experience for my new role as District Manager,” she said.

Diversity in action

In addition to her day job, she has been instrumental in inspiring inclusion in the business, setting up and now leading ChampionX’s first Middle East and Africa chapter of Employee Resource Group, RISE, which focuses specifically on gender equality, diversity, and inclusion.

“Being part of such a diverse team brings real benefits both for the business and for me personally,” Emma continued. “In Oman a lot of the colleagues and customers I encounter day-to-day are Omani, in Qatar there is a strong expat contingent, and I’m looking forward to interacting and learning more about Iraq. Having access to different experiences and backgrounds within the team is invaluable; we tackle challenges together and combine our knowledge to build understanding and bridge the gaps we come across.”

Challenges to inclusion

Despite the inroads being made, there are still challenges when it comes to encouraging inclusion in the energy sector.

Maram Al Ghailani, a Chemical Engineering alumnus, who joined ChampionX five years ago as an applications specialist, and is now a district sales representative in Oman, is passionate about inspiring diversity through her involvement with RISE. She recently gave a presentation to colleagues in Sugar Land, Texas as part of the commitment to broaden horizons and bring greater insight into the cultures present across the wider organisation.

“The presentation was on the Arabic culture, I shared my knowledge on customs such as day to day greetings and social distancing expectations, much of which was unfamiliar to our colleagues in the States, so it was valuable to be able to share that,” said Maram.

Gender equality in MENA

But Maram says that achieving gender equality in the MENA region still has a way to go, in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry in a male-dominated region of the world.

“While I do now see a lot more females working in the field, there are still many companies which are not fully engaged with this. They are not averse to the idea but are in the process of working out how to provide the right facilities for females to enable them to work in the field, so we are definitely seeing progress there.”

Emma agrees, saying: “In the Middle East, countries and businesses are really driving diversity. We can see it in the number of graduates that are stepping up to roles and you can see their passion and willingness to take on the challenges that this industry presents.

Encouraging signs

“In my role, I have arranged for female members of my teams to visit customer sites across Oman and Qatar, and although there isn’t the permanent infrastructure yet to accommodate female colleagues, there is always a strong effort to provide the facilities needed for our people to do their job safely and comfortably. I really feel that this is one of a number of positive indicators; if the industry keeps looking forward and can carry on developing the areas that allows people to be included, the next decade will see great strides forward in diversifying the workforce, something that will benefit us all.”

There are still significant strides to make in amplifying the voices of women and promoting cultural awareness to forge a more inclusive future for the global energy sector. Positive culture and leadership in diversity and inclusion are key to attracting, retaining and developing the talented workforce needed to support the energy transition and women like Maram and Emma are key role models for the younger generation of females entering the industry, showing the exciting careers that can be achieved for women in the energy sector.

Committed businesses

“As a manager, I will always strive for inclusion, whether with customers or with internal teams and it’s great to work with a business that really commits to that. As long as we all keep looking for ways to bridge the gaps and give people access to the tools and skills they need, we will keep seeing the improvements we are all looking for in our industry,” Emma said.


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