Joan Njeri Njoroge, Managing Director of Engen Mauritius, recently named the Most Influential Woman in the Chemical, Pharmaceutical & Petrochemicals sector at the CEO Global sponsored ‘Most Influential Women in Business & Government and Titans of Africa Awards’, is top of the global arc of women in the Oil and Gas industry.
This is not the first time Njoroge has received such an accolade having been awarded Leader of the Year at the 2013 Engen International Business Awards and the Outstanding Women Leadership Award at the African Leadership Awards in 2014 and 2015.
With only 11% global boardroom representation in the Oil & Gas sector, Njoroge represents the future for women determined to rise beyond the historic narratives of gender as a determinant for success. Her example coaxes the biases out of the equation as Njoroge herself observes how women can actively determine their success.
“I believe that there are many opportunities for women to climb up the corporate ladder but because of the narrative on women’s role in society and a great fear of making mistakes, women normally hesitate to put themselves forward even when they are best suited for a role.”
The merits of this argument are indisputable, but equally so, a supportive corporate environment and encouraging peers cannot be underestimated.
“In my formative years at Engen, I had the privilege of working with great leaders who saw my potential and greatly influenced my direction. When somebody believes in you, you do everything in your power not to let them down. These leaders played more of a mentorship role than that of a manager.”
Njoroge attributes her accomplishments to her curiosity and sense of adventure which are reinforced by academic achievements as well as an ability to build great teams.
Njoroge says, “I am someone who is not afraid of change and therefore normally open to opportunities that present themselves. I am a firm believer in trying out new things and if it doesn’t work out at least I know I tried. This is a philosophy I apply to both in my professional life as well as my personal life.”
Oil and gas companies by their nature have to adapt to change and anticipate challenges. Leaders in this space should equally be capable of heralding change and innovation. This is perhaps why Njoroge is also so well suited to the environment.
“What I enjoy most about my current role is how dynamic it is. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. You make plans and then Oil prices crash or currency fluctuates, or the competition does something that requires immediate reaction and you have to quickly come up with a new plan.”
Njoroge continues, “At Engen we know that we have to keep innovating if we are to remain relevant. It is exciting having to think outside the box all the time. I also love that I have the ability to impact young people’s lives. I always encourage my young colleagues to aspire to be more and to keep learning. I am a product of a company, Engen that invested in my development and I try to do the same for those who I see potential in.”
The inspiration and influence that Njoroge represents will be realised in the lives she touches through her example. Through her ascendancy, Njoroge’s position as MD and her encouragement of others, a template of possibility is created. It serves as a prototype to other young women who may have averted a career in the Oil & Gas Industry and steered clear of notions of leadership prior to Njoroge’s example.