Born in Nigeria, Yetunde Okediji is no stranger to the energy industry. While she spent her late elementary to early high school years in Nigeria, she views the Fort Worth, TX area home—it’s where she’s lived the majority of her life.
Having obtained a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering and a Master of Science in Natural Gas Engineering and Management—both from the University of Oklahoma—she’s managed to create a career that we can only describe in one word: Impressive.
We chatted with Yetunde to find out more about her background, how she’s coping in the downturn, and what exactly she’s setting her sights on next.
Forging Her Path
Yetunde says her career really started with her first internship with Schlumberger as a Field Engineer Intern in Graham, TX. “It confirmed to me that I had chosen the right field of study and would enjoy working in the oil and gas industry,” she explains.
From there, she added numerous other internships to her resume, including positions with Phillips Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, and Devon Energy.
But, it was with ConocoPhillips where her career got its full-time start. She joined the team in 2007 and spent her first year rotating through four different technology teams: Reservoir Engineering, LNG, Production Engineering, and Drilling Engineering.
With that varied experience under her belt, she set her sights on a career as a Production Engineer. “I chose to work as a Production Engineer because it allowed me to work on projects that had an immediate problem,” she shares, “I could research solutions, implement the best one, and generally see results in a ‘short’ timeframe. I could start and finish a project and have the satisfaction of knowing its impact.”
During her time there, one particular accomplishment sticks out in Yetunde’s mind. “The accomplishment that I am most proud of from ConocoPhillips is increasing the production from one of my routes by 10%,” she explains, “It was an area that the reservoir engineer thought we should abandon or sell. But, by working closely with the operations team, we were able to turn things around through workovers and artificial lift optimization.”
After working with ConocoPhillips in the South Texas Asset, supporting operations for onshore tight gas fields, Yetunde moved on to a position with Chevron in 2012 to work in their South Texas Field Management Team as a Senior Production Engineer. “Although the fields were very close in proximity to the ConocoPhillips South Texas assets, they were managed very differently and I grew a lot in the transition,” she adds.
Due to her skills, positive attitude, and strong work ethic, Yetunde was quickly promoted to Lead Production Engineer in early 2014, which expanded her role to include more strategic and cross-functional team responsibilities.
From there, Yetunde held a few other positions with Chevron, including her final role as a Van Team Lead. “I worked in a supervisory position where I managed a group of petroleum engineers and expanded by business planning role,” she says.
While at Chevron, she was also familiarized with the concept of Lean Six Sigma and became a Green Belt Facilitator and Champion, contributing $750,000 in accrued financial benefit during her last two years.
Making the Most of the Downturn
Needless to say, Yetunde’s experience and history in the energy industry is vast and impressive. However, that didn’t mean that she was immune to the effects of the downturn. She’s currently in transition and seeking a new petroleum engineering position.
While the downturn is undoubtedly disheartening, Yetunde is doing her best to make the most of it—and she advises that others do the same as well.
“I was laid off from Chevron in April 2016. Since then, I have actively participated in various job search networks and training. Use the time in transition to grow—assess your strengths and development areas and pick an area to enhance during this time,” she advises.
In Yetunde’s case, she began volunteering with the Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Section and began working on the Member-in-Transition committee as a secretary and a Job Search Work Team coordinator.
She’s also using this time to beef up her professional skills. She took the Petroleum Engineering PE exam in October, and is looking forward to getting her results in December. She’s also working on taking a Project Management Professional (PMP) prep course and hopes to receive that certification in the first quarter of 2017. “I believe that receiving my PE license and PMP certification will support my experience and show my level of expertise, giving me a competitive advantage during my job search,” she shares.
Regardless of what professional ambitions you choose to pursue, Yetunde thinks it’s important to view the downturn as an opportunity, rather than a roadblock. “Keep your head up and strategically get out of the house!” she says, “Almost all the people that I have met who have found jobs got those jobs through their immediate or extended network. The best advice I received after my layoff was to order some business cards and start attending networking events.”
She recommends becoming an active participant in groups such as the Pay-It-Forward Network and, of course, Pink Petro, to continue growing your web of professional contacts.
“The biggest question so many ask is whether they should ‘wait it out’,” Yetunde explains, “Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. But, staying connected with organizations that understand the importance of your talent and find ways to support and grow you will benefit us all during our ‘sabbatical’ from the industry.”
Finding Pink Petro
It was that desire to stay connected with supportive organizations that led Yetunde to Pink Petro. “After re-establishing my LinkedIn account, I read a post about the OTC Women’s Forum hosted by Pink Petro,” she shares, “I attended much of that forum and then attended the HERWorld Connect Forum to draft a response to the World Economic Forum call to action on ending the gender gap later that week. They were both very powerful events where I learned a lot and gained some insight into myself as well.”
With such a moving introduction to Pink Petro, Yetunde has continued to be excited about what the organization provides. “Through Pink Petro, I’ve met people who have helped me during my job search and opened my eyes to alternative career paths—one connected me to a job for which I interviewed, another worked with me as a career coach, and others have shared their career journeys and given an encouraging word,” she says. She also thinks the events calendar is a great feature to help you with that oh-so-important process of staying connected in the industry.
She adds, “Pink Petro is an organization that I believe women in transition should join.”
Coming Down the Pipeline
Moving forward, Yetunde plans to continue taking steps in the right direction in order to land a new position. “My highest near-term goal is to return to the workforce soon,” she says, “I’m looking forward to leading in a company that has an internal call to action in bridging the gender gap in all levels of their organization, especially upper management.”
Needless to say, with her awesome history, her positive attitude, and her ceaseless drive to continuously improve herself, we’re more than confident that Yetunde will ride the waves of this downturn and come out even better than before.
We’re looking forward to watching you continue to change the industry and the world for the better, Yetunde!