• 08 Jan 2020

Everyone has a part to play in the energy sector

With a degree in psychology, I never anticipated that I would work in health and safety for an energy and water company. But here I am.

 

My career path into the energy sector was anything but conventional.

 

I was the daughter of diplomats and lived most of my life abroad. I spent five years in Sri Lanka and I attended high school and university in Japan. I always thought that I would follow in my father’s foreign service footsteps, which is why I majored in International Relations.

 

I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me.

 

I’d taken an elective in psychology and thought – this is it. I was fascinated by people and why we behave the way we do. In 2011, I graduated with a degree in psychology but then it was onto the real world. What was I going to do?

 

I moved back to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and after a few interviews, I began working in the Strategy department at Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA). I worked on initiatives such as “Corporate Culture and Values”. I was a part of the team that helped create TAQA’s corporate values and the way we did this was by conducting surveys across the group. I was able to tap into my psychology background to analyze the responses to help shape policy.

 

Once this project ended, I moved into Security Intelligence Reporting. This required liaising with regional security officers, providing briefings, threat monitoring, travel risk management, etc. But just as the energy sector is continuously evolving, so was TAQA. My department merged with the Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) department and this brought on a new challenge.

 

Everyone in HSSE had an engineering background, and I wondered how I would add value to such a technical department.

 

I’m now involved in performance reporting for the group, crisis and emergency management, HSSE improvement projects, and more. I get to work on initiatives with various departments around the world, which also helps me gain insight on different business models, operations and cultures.

 

I haven’t completely dropped my psychology background, but rather I look for ways to integrate it into HSSE. One of my goals is to analyze how behavior-based safety can be used to solve problems in the workplace.

 

I wouldn’t be where I am without the support and help from my colleagues. I know that sounds cliché, but I think you must find something interesting in every job that you do – and it was their passion that made me excited to learn more. And their encouragement gave me confidence, which is an attribute that I try to pay forward.

 

If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I saw myself, I doubt I would’ve said working in HSSE for an energy and water company. Yet I can easily say that I walk into work each day with a smile. I want to encourage others who have a different background to know that there aren’t limits. The energy sector is very dynamic and we each have a role to play.

By Fatima Al Nowais, TAQA HSSE Performance Analyst

This piece was originally published on LinkedIn

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