Abir Al Sharif, general manager of Global Petroleum Business & Trading, speaks to Pipeline Magazine about running integrated services business as a female Arab in the oil and gas industry
How long has your business provided services for the oil & gas sector and what is your focus?
We have been supplying manpower to the oil and gas sector for about 20 years now. With the initial success that we had with this business, we expanded to cover different activities in multiple sectors in order to get the most benefit from our business network.
During the last couple of years, we added technical training with Maersk Training and Atlas Knowledge as our major partner. We also added company representation, which provides specialised services like rig audit and inspection with Athens Group.
How has been your experience in reaching your position as a female Arab in this industry?
Being a business woman who has established companies for providing services in the oil and gas industry, which is considered as one of the most important sectors all over the world, was not an easy goal to reach. However, I took the challenge to prove that women are able to achieve anything, especially in our conservative culture. Passion, dedication and commitment made my dreams come true and I have many more goals yet to achieve in the industry.
I’ve had support from people who believe in me, provided financial and moral support. Those who put obstacles and barriers in my way also helped me in reaching my goals because the challenge made me stronger and more determined.
I’ve been in the oil and gas sector since 2000, when I fell in love with this particular industry. I was the only Arab female in my circles working in the service business for oil and gas.
I decided to go in depth to provide specialised services. I enjoyed the struggle to gain market share in a market dominated by Arab men and Westerners with a very few number of Western ladies, which made my mission quite hard.
What was your biggest challenge and the best reward in your career?
Establishing a group of companies that provide integrated services for the oil and gas and other sectors. My best reward is the knowledge I gained and the large network I developed which has made me stronger.
What are you most excited about in terms of business outlook for the coming year?
Providing new technology for the oil and gas industry, which saves cost and optimises production by going into partnership with the international companies that manufacture such technology in different disciplines within the industry.
What is the competitive edge that your company has over other similar service providers?
We provide distinguished quality of services based on promptness and quality in line with the international standard of services with competitive prices that match our clients’ budgets.
What is the general outlook for manpower, training and consultancy business in the Middle East?
Regarding the manpower market, from my point of view it will increased since there are not just new projects within the region, but also a new vision, which most NOCs intend to implement for both nationals and expatriates. Pertaining to the training I believe it will be increased as a part of the development strategy being implemented by most of the Gulf countries to invest in human capital.