Braving the storms: A corporate lady’s journey to success
Mireille has journeyed a long way from her humble beginnings in the small African country of Gabon in her quest to become the inspirational leader, energy expert, public figure, global influencer she is now. She began her journey into the oil and gas industry at a very low moment in her life after her dad passed away. At that time, she was completing her bachelor of Sciences in France and the dead of her father meant she could not continue studying because of lack of money.
However, despite this major obstacle, she did not give up. She decided to complete the bachelor’s degree and then went back to Gabon to look for a job and be with her mother and siblings. After a string of unsuccessful interviews, she was finally hired by the multinational; Shell. Then her journey full time into the industry began. Shell had launched an aggressive national recruitment campaign for local Gabonese talents who had a sciences background and she was one of the young talents they recruited to work as petroleum engineer in their office in Gabon.
“When I joined Shell, I did not know anything about the oil and gas industry which made my beginning in the industry very challenging but none the less, very rewarding because of the multinational nature of the company. I really appreciated having access to global experts on a daily basis and also having the opportunity to get high level industry trainings at the Shell international training centre in Holland”.
It is evident that, her first encounter with the oil and gas industry was stormy. It was love at second sight! With time, as her determination and confidence grew stronger and as she was growing her knowledge and getting access to a wider global network, she really started enjoying this dynamic and exciting industry which continues to fascinate her today after more than twenty years.
Being a young woman in the industry, they were times she felt like giving up but stayed strong. “The road was very rocky at times. There were setbacks, challenges, obstacles and times when I wanted to quit but I kept on telling myself that giving up was not an option. I decided to keep at it and fought hard to have a fulfilling international career and a global impact in the industry”.
Thriving above all odds
The oil and gas industry no doubt is male dominated, and it is no surprise that she had to face the odds, to overcome them and to make a difference. With all what she has achieved this far, Mirielle is definitely an example of a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it despite all the setbacks. She recounts her experience in the following words;
“My first big challenge when I started in the oil and gas industry was the language. I could barely speak English which was the language of communication in Shell and in the industry. It did impact my ability to communicate and connect with my peers and slowed down my progress and integration in Shell and in the industry as a whole. There were periods of great frustration especially when I was left out of interesting and key projects just because I could not speak English fluently. This was often wrongly mistaken for me not being able to technically contribute and even worse not having any potential at all!
As frustrating as the situation was, it gave me the strength to go head on and try to change this perception that my supervisor and team mates had about me. I started learning English at the local training centre in the city where I was based and after few months my English abilities and capabilities had improved considerably. A never-ending determination, a strong confidence and a strong belief in myself have allowed me to rise to the challenge.
After overcoming the language issue, then came the unending fight to gain respect and be recognized fairly for my contribution in this male dominated industry, the fight against the “boys club” to get those promotions I thought I deserved. I constantly had to prove myself and work twice as hard to breakthrough. My hard work and determination coupled with the mentorship, sponsorship and support of some brave men and colleagues have been key for me to have a very accomplished international career and sustain an exceptional level of expertise and professionalism.
It is quite impressive to see a lady toping the oil and gas industry; something that many people still do not belief very much in. Added to her list of achievements are three books addressing key issues in the oil and gas industry. In her first book “Local Content key enabler for oil and gas projects in emerging markets” which was published in 2015, she defines the concept of local content as added value brought to emerging countries where oil and gas are exploited through the activity of the oil and gas industry as collaboration between investing firms, the government and the industry key stakeholders. She highlights Local Content as an important tool for developing economies and emerging markets to stimulate economic development, bring in more assets than just oil revenues and taxes but more importantly as a key enabler for economic diversification and sustainability.
Her second book “Stepping into your greatness: twelve rules for building an outstanding life” published in 2016, steps out of her focus on oil, gas and energy to express her passion for personal development. In the book, she describes the twelve rules which have been the backbones of my life. The book’s intention is to give readers hope for an outstanding life while facing every obstacle they face with strength and optimism and encourage them to have a positive attitude to life that will serve a lasting legacy.
In her most recent book “Natural gas strategies: the role of emerging and developing markets”, she talks about reshaping the energy sector’s landscape and the role developing and emerging markets play in this reshaping. She also details the growing role of natural gas in the energy mix as demand for cleaner fuels grows because of the threat caused by greenhouse emissions.
A true philanthropist, she initiated the Energy Angels Foundation project with the objective to reach out and sponsor under-privileged African girls to study subjects related to the energy sector and mentor new women entrepreneurs in the Energy sector. A dream she is currently taking practical steps towards its effective implementation in Africa after its pilot phase in Australia. She made it her commitment and personal mission to help others to become the best that they can be in order to come out of the mass and stand in their own shining light. She is a indeed a force to recon with… Read More