It is common knowledge that everyone is advocating for more representation of women in leadership positions and in the corporate world. Sometimes it all seems like a common song until you get to experience it first hand or listen to someone else’s story. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the Managing Director of the National Oil Corporation, Summayya Hassan Athmani.
The first time I heard her name I thought she was a man until I googled her and I thought to myself,” is it really a woman?” Unfortunately that is what comes into our minds whenever we think of male dominated careers. As she described her story, I was genuinely inspired. She narrated how she first started working in the oil and gas industry.
She went for her interview seeking a post in the legal sector of the company when she had just about two weeks to deliver a baby. You can imagine the looks she got. People couldn’t imagine that someone like her would be good enough to manage such a task but she proved them wrong after the interview. You see, she is learned, she has a law degree and is also an advocate of the high court. I have to add that she is really intelligent and very vocal about her ideas.
Being a woman in a buibui of course because of her religion and culture, people were sometimes suspicious about her potential but she knew she had to stand her ground and prove her worth. ” Some people would see me and think I was a third wife from Isiolo,” she said with so much humor in her tone. As a woman, she knew she had to work twice as hard and prove that she was more than what she appeared on the outside.
Her career has grown tremendously over the years and she is a living proof to women and young girls that you can be anything you want to be. Her advice is don’t take life too seriously. Take time off and relax. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Failure is part of success. What would she tell her twenty one year old self? ” I would tell myself to find a mentor, you don’t have to figure out everything on your own when you have someone who has gone through the same experience.”
One thing for sure is that the oil and gas sector is in good hands and I am sure when she leaves, she will have set a standard, a high one for that matter. Go for what you want no matter how far it may be. Dreams are hard to follow but don’t let anyone take them away.