Walaa Al-Mukhtar, a petroleum engineer on a one-year assignment with the Southern Area Production Engineering Department, reviews data at a Saudi Aramco drilling site in the Southern Area. Al-Mukhtar is part of a historic transformation of the department as it welcomes women into field roles.
Once a bastion of male engineers, the Southern Area Production Engineering Department (SAPED) made a paradigm shift in 2018 as female petroleum engineers joined the department on assignment from the Reservoir Engineering Department.
Thanks to their hard work, dedication, and perseverance, coupled with SAPED’s uniquely designed Individual Development Plan (IDP) — especially tailor-made for female engineers — a historic transformation has taken place. Female engineers have not only proven their capabilities in the operational environment, but have emerged as front runners in both the office and field environments.
“This is a major step the company is taking toward encouraging diversity in workplaces and unleashing the young talents in various environments,” said SAPED manager Hamad M. Al-Marri. “Now that more females are into the business, let’s just fathom the thought of how much great input we will have as a company, achieving growth, innovation — and most importantly — a great evolution.”
Gender diversity in the workforce is not only a top priority for Saudi Aramco, but also for the Kingdom through Saudi Vision 2030. It also brings tangible benefits to the company by tapping into the rich talents and hard work ethic of the large and growing female portion of the company’s workforce.
Walaa Al-Mukhtar, one of the female engineers taking advantage of this opportunity, said breaking barriers was one key reason she jumped at the chance to work with SAPED, along with the determination to prove that female engineers can add to the industry as much as males do.
Hosting female engineers was equally challenging for SAPED, as the experience was new for this engineering department. SAPED welcomed this challenge and took a dramatic stride to draw the company’s greatest untapped resource — female employees. Specific development plans were developed and individual mentors were assigned to each engineer for close monitoring and guidance to reinforce holistic talent management, competencies, and leadership development. The female engineers were placed in strategic units to ensure an easy and smooth transformation to their new job. To ensure a successful transition, the female engineers were assigned to work as support engineers with an experienced professional. Within a short period of three months, they independently started handling all production engineering jobs for a GOSP connected with more than 120 wells in mature fields, and the multiple challenges that followed.
Saudi Aramco is not only committed to the technical growth of its engineers, but it also strives to develop and produce future leaders. The female engineers were encouraged to participate in many leadership courses as well as in-Kingdom and out-of-Kingdom conferences on leadership development.