Chidinma Obi. Image: Punch
The lead, Technical Planning, Lekoil Limited, Chidinma Obi, speaks with KORE OGIDAN about her job
Tell us about your educational background.
For my elementary education, I attended FAAN (then called NAA) Staff School. I passed the common entrance in Primary 5 and had the opportunity to go directly to secondary school but declined in favour of one more year of emotional and physical development ahead of secondary school. For my secondary school education, I attended Airforce Comprehensive School, Ibadan, where I got the best Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination result in my school with 10 As. I finished my secondary school education in the US at North Clayton High School in Georgia, where I graduated as the star student of my school with Governor’s honours and multiple university scholarships. I then went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, I have taken several technical and safety certification and development courses specific to my career in the oil and gas industry, and a few in marketing and business development.
Tell us about your job.
I work with Lekoil Limited, a growing exploration and production company with a focus on Africa. I lead the technical planning (department), a position that reports directly to the Chief Technical Officer of the company.
What is your job description?
I am responsible for working with stakeholders and project leads to ensure the delivery of projects on time, per schedule, and in a cost-effective manner. Projects include but are not limited to drilling, facilities engineering, design and execution, and oil and gas asset development and maturation. I prepare and lead project planning business reviews for the CTO. In addition, I track progress and changes to project plans and ensure that change controls are reported to the CTO. I monitor milestone achievements and ensure that corporate targets for the technical department are met.
Why did you apply for this job?
I already had extensive and varied experience working for some of the largest oil and gas service companies in the world including Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Transocean. I was looking to gain experience in the exploration and production side of the oil and gas industry. Working directly with the CTO of a growing E and P company provided the opportunity I needed to understand the full scope of requirements to transform a fallow asset to one that is producing oil and/or gas in a continuous, sustainable way.
What are the challenges you face and how do you surmount them?
One of the challenges I face is one that most team leaders face– being accountable for work that is done by other team members. Most of the presentations to executive management have inputs from various team members from different departments. However, as the coordinator, it is my responsibility to ensure that the information provided by other team members are accurate and can stand up to scrutiny. To achieve this, I sit with the various team members to understand their respective inputs to the point that I can defend these inputs. Incidentally, this hands-on approach also broadens my familiarity with areas of the business that would ordinarily be outside of my core areas of expertise.
Where did you work before joining this company?
I started out working as a field engineer in Peru and Colombia with Schlumberger. I worked on drilling rig locations, taking measurements that ensured that oil wells reached their intended subsurface targets, and measuring the characteristics of the rock that was being drilled. After that, I worked with Halliburton in the Gulf of Mexico, US, where I used the data obtained from offshore wells to advise E and P customers on better ways to drill wells. I got seconded to Shell’s real-time operation centre in Houston where I used real-time data to improve drilling for Shell’s companies in Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Nigeria. I became a drilling engineer with ADTI, owned by the international rig company, Transocean. There, I worked with a team to plan and execute the drilling of wells in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In addition, I started helping with the business development of the company into Nigeria. I was soon promoted to be the marketing manager for Transocean in Nigeria where I secured rig contracts with E and P companies and ensured that our customers were satisfied with our services. Eventually, I co-founded and was the managing director of a wells project management company that provides E and P companies with engineering design, planning, contracting, processes, and personnel expertise required to drill their wells from start to finish.
What are your long term goals?
My long-term goal is to apply my varied skills and experiences to running a company that has a direct impact in lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Does your job affect your social life?
I keep a healthy work-life balance and cultivate interests outside of my job.
What are some of the qualities you think a leader must possess in order to be successful?
I believe that a leader must have a clear vision of the goal, be resourceful, willing to take risks, and be empathetic. Most worthwhile endeavours are met with challenges. A clear vision helps the leader understand what is necessary to achieve that goal and the various paths that can get the team to that destination.
What are your other interests?
I love travelling and learning about different people, their languages, and their cultures. I speak four languages at varying degrees of fluency–English, Spanish, French, and Igbo. I also love playing board, card, and role-play games. I co-founded a social games group called the Lagos Games Group that currently has over 3,500 members across all its online platforms. We host a game night every month.
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