Features > Business in Focus, Interviews

Women in Energy: Salma Omara

Monday, 6th March 2017

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Salma Omara, HR Supervisor at TWMA, spoke to Egypt Oil&Gas as a representative of women’s active voice in the energy sector. TWMA is globally recognised for providing specialist environmental solutions and services to the oil and gas industry both on and offshore. Formed in 2000, the company employs over 500 people and has office, processing, manufacturing and service bases in Europe, the Americas, North Africa, West Africa, and the Middle East.

 How did your oil and gas industry career begin and what attracted you to the sector?

Before joining TWMA, I held an administrative role for two years in HESS Corporation. When I graduated in 2010, I was attracted to the oil industry because it’s so dynamicand offers a lot of opportunities for personal growth and development, and I believe the industry holds a wealth of opportunity for everyone who’s eager to learn and is willing to work in a fast-paced and challenging work environment.

When did you join TWMA, and how have you progressed since joining the company?

I joined TWMA in 2012 as an Administrative Coordinator.At the time of my appointment, I was also interested in the Human Resources side of the business and was keen to learn more about this area. There is a very positive and motivational environment at TWMA and my managers have helped mein pursuing the career path I’m most interested in. They have encouraged me to become more involved in HR and to complete my Human Resources Management Diploma from the American University in Cairo.

After finishing my diploma, I was promoted to HR Supervisor and being part of such a fantastic team definitely played an important part in my progression to this role. Everything I’ve learned about HR, I’ve learned from the team who have provided me with guidance and assistance to help me overcome any challenges that I faced.

Tell us a little about your typical day, and what sort of responsibilities your role involves.

My responsibility as an HR Supervisor at TWMA is to handle the day-to-day management of HR operations and the administration of the company’s policies and procedures. My role is demanding, covering various elements of HR including compensation and benefits, training and development, staff attendance and holidays, fulfilling employee requests and submitting monthly reports.

One of my greatest achievements so far was successfully taking over the running of the HR and Administration Department only a few weeks after joining TWMA. My former manager left on maternity leave and I ran the department for three months whilst also studying for my HR Diploma.

The fact that my managers saw so much potential in me filled me with determination to prove myself and confidently take on the additional responsibility. I learned a huge amount in those three months and grew as an HR professional.

Outside of your day job, what sort of activities do you take part in?

In addition to professional support, I’m also very lucky to have personal development support at TWMA. Volunteering is my passion and I offer support to a number of charitable organisations in Egypt as well as Operation Smile, a charity that provides free, reconstructive surgeries for children and young adults with facial deformities and birth defects including cleft lips, cleft palates and burns.

I’ve participated in around 14 missions with Operation Smile over the last eight years in Rwanda, Congo, Philippines, Cambodia and different areas around Egypt which wouldn’t have been possible without my very supportive and understanding manager who pushes me to be the best I can be, on both a professional and personal level, and I’m beyond grateful for that.

From your experience working in the energy sector, do you feel that women have the same opportunities as men in the oil and gas industry?

I think there’s still a lot that can be done to improve diversity and to encourage women to consider working in the oil and gas industry. I believe there is still a misconception that women ‘can’t handle’ this industry because it’s such a challenging environment but this is simply not true. Companies must do all they can to attract strong, female graduates and be willing to train and invest in them to ensure they can become leaders in their field. It’s crucial that more opportunities are created for women and most importantly, peoplemust understand that this industry is for everyone regardless of gender.

Do you think that some women might be deterred from working in the oil industry because it is usually a male dominated sector of work?

Unfortunately the oil industry is less gender diverse than some other industries and it’s more common to see male figures in senior positions, which mayput some women off when it comes to joining the industry. I personally believe that this should be motivation for more women to consider the energy sector as itdemands a diverse range of skills and expertise. However, I would love to see more companies empoweringthe women who are willing to join the industry and trying to remove any potential obstacles.

When I first joined the company, I faced some challenges but I felt empowered and motivated to be better every day. I’m lucky to have experienced nothing but respect and support from my colleagues who have always treated me as a valuable member of the team.

What would be your advice for any young women who are looking to succeed in the oil industry?

My message to young women is that there’s no such thing as failure, only lessons learned. There will always be fear and new challenges but they will make you stronger. Challenges are a gift that allow us to grow and push us to the next level. The oil industry is very competitive but women don’t have to take the easy route and should embrace the chance to develop confidence and grab any opportunities that come their way. It’s saddens me that some people still underestimate the power of women or question their abilities and I believe girls should be taught from a young age that the sky is the limit and that gender should never be an obstacle to prevent them from achieving their goals in life.

Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of your career aspirations?

I’m always looking for new ways to improve my skills and knowledge. The last five years working at TWMA have been very successful for me and I’m planning to further my Human Resources studies and enrich my knowledge of the oil and gas industry.

By enabling me to pursue my passion to help others, TWMA has helped me to be the best version of myself and give something back to my community. Because of this, I approach each day with a positive attitude and a clear mind which has a direct impact on my productivity in my work. As I build on my skills and knowledge, I hope that I can work my way up the managerial ladder in the near future.

HR oil industry Salma Omara TWMA women in energy