Home The EntrepreneurInterview Breaking Barriers: An Inspiring Journey of Mrs Ibilola Amao in the Oil Sector

Breaking Barriers: An Inspiring Journey of Mrs Ibilola Amao in the Oil Sector

by Akinruli Tolulope

Mrs. Ibilola Amao is a prominent figure in the oil and gas industry with a wealth of experience and expertise spanning several decades. Born and raised in Nigeria, Mrs. Amao developed a keen interest in the energy sector from a young age. Her passion for the industry led her to pursue a career in the oil and gas field, where she has made significant contributions and achieved remarkable success, as captioned by Entrepreneurng.com

After completing her education in civil and structural engineering from a prestigious university, Mrs. Amao began her professional journey in the early 1990s. She joined one of the leading multinational oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria, where she quickly established herself as a diligent and talented professional. Her dedication and commitment to her work earned her recognition, and she steadily climbed the corporate ladder, taking on increasingly challenging roles.

Throughout her career, Mrs. Amao has garnered extensive experience in various aspects of the oil and gas industry. She has worked in exploration and production, refining and processing, project management, and business development, among other areas. Her deep knowledge of the sector, coupled with her exceptional leadership skills, has enabled her to spearhead major projects and initiatives.

Oil Sector 

Mrs. Amao’s contributions have not been limited to her professional endeavors alone. She has been actively involved in promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry, advocating for equal opportunities for women and underrepresented groups. She has served as a mentor and role model for aspiring professionals, particularly women, inspiring them to pursue careers in the oil and gas sector.

Recognizing her outstanding achievements and expertise, Mrs. Amao has received numerous accolades and awards throughout her career. She has been honored for her leadership, technical expertise, and her contributions to the advancement of the oil and gas industry. Her work has had a significant impact on the sector, both in Nigeria and internationally.

Beyond her professional achievements, Mrs. Amao is known for her philanthropic endeavors. She is actively involved in various charitable initiatives aimed at supporting education, healthcare, and community development. Her passion for giving back to society underscores her commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Today, Mrs. Ibilola Amao continues to play a pivotal role in the oil and gas industry. She serves on the boards of several prominent companies and organizations, where her expertise and insights are highly valued. Her remarkable career journey, coupled with her dedication to empowering others, has cemented her reputation as a trailblazer and an influential figure in the oil and gas sector.

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Her groundbreaking record has shed light on the intricacies of the business world and has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of becoming a successful entrepreneur. We had the privilege of sitting down with Mrs Ibilola Amao to discuss her journey and the future of the oil and gas sector.

Here are the highlights of our insightful conversation. (Oil Sector)


Interviewer: Please, ma’am, can you introduce yourself?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: OK, so my name is ibilola amao.

I’m the principal consultant at Lonadek Global Services, an engineer, and I’ve run the business for about 32 years. Also,

I’m a London entrepreneur as well. I’m very passionate about girls in STEM—women in engineering, energy and entrepreneurship.

Interviewer: As a structural engineer, ma, how did your passion for the oil industry develop, and what motivated you to start your own oil service company?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: My passion stemmed from being a physics and maths student who loved solving problems. So, as a problem solver that likes maths and physics, l decided to go into any of the engineering disciplines, whether it’s chemical engineering, civil, structural, mechanical, or electrical instrumentation, their whole range of engineering activities. I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, but my late father told me that in my lifetime, we wouldn’t be developing, designing and building aeroplanes in Nigeria. I should look for an alternative engineering type that would benefit Nigeria. So, I opted for civil and structural engineering because I had seen my late father work as a civil and structural engineer with a passion. When I graduated, my final year project was in computing and developing software for hydraulics, and I enjoyed working on computers. So, when I discovered that I enjoyed working on computers, my PhD was based on computer-aided design, and I specialized in 3D modelling of oil and gas facilities. When I returned to Nigeria, I realized that the most vibrant industry that required the knowledge I had acquired in my PhD was the oil and gas sector, and I was very fortunate to have a mentor and a role model engineer.

Doctor Missoula, Tokunbo Shomolu, introduced me to the oil and gas industry. So, she was the one that gave me my first opportunity in the oil and gas industry. So, that’s how I got into the oil and gas industry. The company was registered, which didn’t have oil and gas as its priority but became very useful in the oil and gas industry. Everything happened by Destiny. I took so many decisions because of the situations that presented themselves, so I’m always very particular about letting people know that my journey in life has been God defined and my journey with God in terms of finding my purpose and destiny. Everything has been one thing leading to another. Looking back now, I can only see the hand of God and how I have journeyed through my career.



Oil Sector 

Interviewer: OK, ma, could you share with us some key challenges you faced as a woman knowing fully well that males are more dominant in the oil and gas industry?

How were you able to overcome this situation?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: OK, so the first thing is understanding yourself. I knew from training to become chartered in the United Kingdom, but I needed to be more excited about site work and outdoor activities. I loved working on my laptop, and I loved working indoors. I focused more on my strengths, so my strength was solving problems, so I identified that the major problem we had in the Nigerian oil and gas industry was that expatriates, well, we were ahead of the Nigerians. Then the Nigerians, the curriculum in the Nigerian universities was not at the level whereby Nigerians could even attempt to compete with their expatriates. So when I returned, there were hardly any computers in the university. Nobody even knew how to use the kind of computers that would be used for projects. So, I realized that I could focus on bridging the gap, which is domiciling, domesticating and democratizing technology. And how could I do that by bridging the gap between industry and academia? By identifying, developing and engaging clients. So, I realized that my strength and purpose are training and human capital development. The first opportunity I got in NNPC Netco when they recruited 67 engineers to work on the Chevron Escravos gas projects in 1992 was to train these engineers, and by the special grace of God, I could take them from their lack of knowledge. Some of them had never seen a computer before, so they could use computers to design. Facilities and the success we experienced from my painstaking commitment to training these 67 engineers to use the engineering software on the Escravos gas project from A2 flow stations. Shell flow stations are more revolutionized into 234 flow stations. In sheltered flow stations, l prepared them to do an excellent job with the NPC partner technical partner then, which was Bechtel, and the success of that encouraged Nigerians to do more work in Nigeria by bringing in more expatriates. Most of the projects before were taken overseas to be executed with computers overseas. So, now we had to go through an advocacy program to make sure that projects that come to Nigeria are executed in Nigeria. Projects are executed in Nigeria, and Nigerians are engaged, trained and engaged to execute those projects in Nigeria. So, I realized that developing Nigerians to execute these projects in Nigeria was a huge gap that had to be filled. I worked on that for ten years and ten months in NNPC and NETCO, and the success of that encouraged other Nigerian engineering companies to set up and begin to use computers effectively to do engineering design work in Nigeria. So I’m very pleased that I was, uh, quite instrumental in advocacy for local content and domesticating engineering design projects in Nigeria.


Interviewer: With your experience, ma, what are the most significant technological advancements that have revolutionized the oil sector in Nigeria, and how has your company adapted to these changes?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: The oil and gas value chain is from upstream to midstream to downstream. So, the technology for exploration and production subsurface work differs from the technology for the top side: facilities, engineering and design. So you can’t really apply the same technology from upstream to midstream to downstream and for different aspects of the oil and gas industry.

So we’ve identified the space where we play: facilities, engineering, operations, and maintenance. So we’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with the proprietors of technology in the area of facilities, engineering, design, developing digital twins, systems integration and predictive and prescriptive operations and maintenance. So we have partners for engineering technology and design. We also work with cloud technology partners, and technology is evolving. So it requires a lot of continuous learning and development, collaboration with foreign technical partners, and proprietors of technology. We are currently looking at industry 5.0, which is human-computer interaction and deploying cobots to optimize the assets and enhance the profitability of assets and efficiency of the human resources that are optimizing these assets. So we are very much involved in not only deploying technology systems, integration training and development of the experts who will deploy this technology in the oil and gas industry. So daily, where learning and developing people’s talent, where identifying STEM, talent, science, technology, engineering, math, and talent and empowering engineers to do more in the oil and gas sector and then we’ve moved from just providing technology in the oil and gas sector to providing technology in the energy, power, infrastructure, mining and manufacturing sector. So at the moment, we’re beginning to engage engineering talent in other sectors beyond oil and gas.


Interviewer: as the owner of an oil service company, ma, what specific services do your company provides, and how do you ensure that you stay competitive in such a dynamic industry?


Mrs Abiola Amao: we provide assets and information management solutions, Local content consultancy, and due diligence; we outsource science, technology, engineering and maths talent to deploy our technologies. We’re also very much involved in training and human capital development and but for me as an individual, my passion is working with girls in STEM and women in engineering, energy and entrepreneurship because we have diversity issues, and it’s not easy to find females in male-dominated sectors. So because I’m a female engineer in a male-dominated sector, I’m committed to working with women to ensure they play in this space.

So I work with the Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria app.

I’m a Co-founder of the Women in Energy Network and very much involved. We connect, work and focus on women groups to ensure that our girls are encouraged to excel in male-dominated sectors. We invest heavily in training and developing our staff as we train and develop the professionals of our client companies where members of various associations, institutions and societies, and we collaborate, cooperate and coordinate resources with our partners to ensure that we are competitive in delivering the products and services that we offer the industry.


Interviewer: As we all know, the oil industry faces criticism for its environmental impact. Most especially in Nigeria, how does your company approach sustainability and environmental responsibility in its operation, ma?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: OK, so for me, it depends on where you play.

As I mentioned, there are upstream, midstream and downstream. Because we provide engineering technology and information management solutions, we’re not very much involved in environmental pollution activities. There are 17 sustainable development Goals, 16 + 1, which are partnerships and collaborations. So our own sustainability strategy is tied to SDG 4-5 and eight, which is education, gender diversity and improving industry applications and solutions. So what we will do normally is ensure that we are involved in climate change as well, and we also get involved in ensuring that some of our clients and partners deploy their solutions appropriately. So I would say our sustainability strategy is tied to innovation and industry, climate change, education, quality, education and gender diversity, and we’re also involved in implementing solutions in the industry. So I’m not, we’re not very involved in oil spills and environmental degradation, but one of our sustainability strategies is ensuring we do not pollute the environment. We do not use; we minimize the use of these plastics and disposables; where also we try to pivot into using solar and renewables in our operations because, at the moment, we run diesel generators, but because of the economic situation at the moment, where just rethinking our sustainability strategy and but we are focused on SDG 4-5 and eight as well as climate change, renewable energy and industrialization.

Interviewer: Can you discuss with us some of the major projects or initiatives your company has undertaken in the oil sector and their impact on the industry and local communities?

Mrs Ibilola Amao: OK, like I stated earlier, the Global Services brand is known for identifying, developing and engaging talent. So between 2000 and apart from developing the engineers in NNPC for the Chevron Escravos gas project, we were known for domiciling, domesticating and democratizing engineering technology in the oil and gas sector; we are also known for technology transfer. We ensured the technology was transferred to Nigeria during the NPC Bechtel joint venture and ERA between 2006 and 2020. We are identified, developed and engaged by 100,000 STEM talent through our Vision 2020 career counselling industry awareness and Youth Empowerment Initiative. Following that, we’ve worked with Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub between 2020 and 2022 to expose over 15,000 Africans and Africans using technology for job demands. We’ve also trained 25 cloud practitioners with Amazon Web Services. We’ve empowered over 200 women in leadership with the US aid Power Africa, energy sector, women’s leadership, and Women’s leadership initiative that’s currently ongoing. We’re also working with GIZ GOPA to empower entrepreneurs to take their ideas to bankable business plans, and we provide single-digit loans with them in collaboration with the Bank of Industry. We’re very committed to social impact initiatives and corporate social responsibilities. As we partner with various bodies, associations, institutions, societies and organizations to empower Nigerians, we’re very involved in education, enlightenment, empowerment, engagement and entrepreneurship to build capability and competence. So that more Nigerians and more Nigerian companies can compete favourably in Nigeria regionally and internationally.

Interviewer: The oil sector is known for its volatility and price fluctuations.

How do you navigate these challenges and ensure the Stability and growth of your compa,


Mrs Ibilola Amao: Well, this has been a major challenge in the oil sector; when there’s a price reduction, all our clients negotiate our contracts downwards.

But, when a price increases, they don’t increase our contract value. So what we have had to do is diversify. So we provide services, whether they’re social impact services or CSR services, we provide services in other sectors, energy, power, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining. Secondly, we’ve tried to derisk our naira exposure and working tirelessly to collaborate with international partners to provide services outside Nigeria so that we’re able to look at our basket of products and services to make sure that we are generating revenue from different products and services or different markets or different sectors. So we have monthly strategy meetings to ensure that we’re not affected to derisk our portfolio of activities so that we’re not in a situation where the pricing of oil affects our business, and this is a major, major problem for most service providers and the gas industry.


Interviewer: with the increasing global focus on renewable energy sources, how do you see the future of the oil industry, and what role do you envision your company to play in this evolving landscape, most especially in Nigeria?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: So, oil and gas will always be oil and gas because the heavy industries require oil and gas. I believe heavy manufacturing equipment would still need oil and gas. Oil and gas would still be in the energy mix now regarding renewable. As l said earlier, we’re collaborating with US aid Power Africa to develop women in the energy sector deploying renewable solutions.

So everybody knows now that people are migrating from heavy oil solutions to energy solutions to renewable energy solutions. We are currently in the decade of gas in Nigeria. 2021 to 2030 is the decade of gas in Nigeria, so people are using gas to power turbines, and people are using gas to power solutions. We’re also looking at CNG, LNG and LPG as alternative fuels. Beyond that, we’re working to empower women and renewable energy solution providers to access single-digit loans with the Bank of Industry. So we’re definitely looking at energy transition as an opportunity and looking at how we can migrate our existing customers from where they are dependent on heavy fuels to how they can transition into renewable energy; we’re currently working with the company in Birmingham on hydrogen. And we’re looking at how best to integrate hydrogen as a power source in the industries where we’re currently working on. So I mean, there are short, medium and long-term strategies for the energy transition, and how do we work with our existing customers and clients to make their energy transition journey in reality? We’re very much involved in energy transition and digital transformation, working with our clients and partners.


Interviewer: could you share a memorable experience with us or achievements in your career that has significantly impacted you personally and professionally?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: I always tell people that the most transformational award I ever received was the Energy Champion Award 2016. We were asked to submit quite a lot of documentation to qualify for the Energy Champion award by the Energy Institute. I did that, and four people were shortlisted for that position; there was a dinner in London in Park Lane, and I attended the dinner with my daughter, my first daughter, and we were all asked to write an acceptance speech. I was unsure If l could win because four people were contending for the price, and my daughter asked me to write my acceptance speech. So I told her I couldn’t write an acceptance speech because I didn’t know if I would win. I was anxious because I was at the event with my daughter, and I wanted to win because I wanted to be a good example to my daughter. When I looked at the profile of the other three people, which was very impressive, I wasn’t sure I would win. God be the glory, I won that award, and with this, I gave a speech from the top of my head, which was very, very instructive, and came from the depth of my heart and was very original. What gladden me most is that most of what I have received has either come neither because somebody nominated me or somebody submitted my name, and then they sent me a letter that I was awarded. This was the first time in my life when I was going to an award ceremony that I wasn’t sure I would win.

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, and the fact that my daughter was there and that I was able to make her proud. We didn’t live in shame, and it was such a high level, the very competitive award is something that I will forever be grateful for because that must have inspired my daughter and must have made her proud of her mother. So that’s the only award ceremony I’ve ever attended where I wasn’t sure I would win, and I didn’t know I had won. I’m forever grateful to that ignited up joining the Energy Institute Council; I served on the Energy Institute UK Council for six years. Two terms of three years, and I’m currently on the Energy Institute International Energy Weekly board. So I mean that award opened several doors for me; even my position on the panel of judges with the Royal Academy of Engineering UK was on the back of that recognition. So you get some awards, and the recognitions open even more doors for you. I’m forever grateful for the Energy Champion Award in 2016.


Interviewer: there are a lot of arguments on the oil industry on how they have contributed significantly to climate change worldwide. How do you respond to this claim, and what steps do you take to minimize your company’s carbon footprint?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: As I explained earlier, we try as much as possible not to use disposables. We also try as much as possible not to run our generator except when we have full demand for the generator. That’s why when we travel with our staff bus, we ensure that we plan our journeys. So on the day that we are going to the island from Jibowu, we make sure that as many staff with things to do on the island are on the bus. You know, those are the kind of little things we do, but that has many intangible and insignificant when you look at gas flaring in the Niger Delta. So I believe that this question is more applied to exploration and production companies more applicable to exploration and production companies that are flaring gas. The only way to address this is for the oil and gas industry regulator and U PRC to ensure that the penalties for flaring gas are much higher than the cost of utilizing gas. So if you make a big penalty for flaring gas is expensive. The economics of that penalty will compel the exploration and production companies to utilize the gap as a process. So instead of flaring the gas, they will capture it, put it through a process, and ensure they get CNG, LPG and LNG out of the gas.

So much advocacy is required, but until the penalty for flaring, gas becomes very, very tangible. Consequently, most of the companies would not invest in gas utilization or even go into exploration and production of non-associated gas.


Interviewer: We know that the oil sector has a lot of ethics and transparency as regards the oil sector, with this allegation of corruption and exploitation. How do you address this issue within your own company?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: OK, I must be honest with you. I’ve been in the oil and gas industry for almost 32 years. I have never paid a bribe, and I have never received a bribe. So I mean, I can honestly tell you that I would have been a billionaire in dollars if I had taken any of the opportunities that have been presented to me in terms of bribery and corruption daily. When you are exposed to bribery and corruption opportunities, it’s up to you to take or not take. So like I always tell people, I’m not a billionaire today because I play by strict ethics and integrity, and I’m very transparent. Lonadek is very transparent in our business, so we always translate our audits and ISO certification; ISO 9120 fifteen certifications are something we are committed to. We are also committed to integrity, honesty, and integrity and transparency, so this is an area where we made a decision that we are gonna be an exemplary company and even though it has cost us a lot of opportunities in terms of people who play dirty in the oil and gas industry. I’m very pleased to say that we have also benefited from international opportunities because some multinational companies seek to do business with companies such as the US, whose footprint is integrity, honesty and transparency.

So one just has to decide whether you want to play dirty or whether you want to play clean. The oil and gas industry is known for bribery and corruption, but we have not taken any of those routes. We’ve lost opportunities based on our position on ethics, but we are proud to say that integrity has also created opportunities for us. Many people we’ve trained over the years now see us executives in multinationals and even international companies outside Nigeria.

I’ve visited places like Aberdeen, Houston, and Qatar, where some of our trainees are doing exceptionally well. So if you are a person of integrity, your work must speak for yourself at some point. So we work very hard and are diligent, quality conscious in all our deliverables. So we get jobs on merit and not based on privacy and corruption.


Interviewer: Some activists argued that fossil fuel should completely phase out.

What is your perspective on this, and do you believe there is a future for the oil industry in a sustainable world?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: Nigeria has yet to fully optimize its oil and gas resources regarding domestic use and petroleum assets, with the Dangote refinery just coming on stream or about to come on stream next year. Hopefully, Nigeria has a huge opportunity for industrialization using petroleum products. So I would say that there is not even a point in optimizing our oil and gas resources for industrialization until we domesticate our manufacturing processes and we get to a point where we have an uninterrupted power supply based on our petroleum assets. We have not fully optimized our petroleum assets, so since oil and gas were or petroleum was discovered in 1956 in the Library, Nigeria is yet to fully use its speculum assets for industrialization until they opted for an uninterrupted power supply. So we need to have a strategy whereby over the next ten years or decade, we optimize gas to power and ensure that domestic use of gas creates industries. Nigeria goes to an industrialization phase, and off the grid, we can use solar and renewable energy, be it geothermal, wind energy, biomass or solar. We could use renewable energy to augment the ungreased gas to power solutions. Still, the ultimate is to ensure that we have the right energy mix from conventional sources of energy and non-conventional sources of energy to ensure that we industrialize as a country; we have an uninterrupted power supply and the quality of life in Nigeria is improved until the Nigerian citizen on the streets gets the dividend of our hydrocarbon footprints, we have not really done the right thing. So I hope we will get me to optimize our oil and gas resources for industrialization, creating jobs and wealth in Nigeria and an uninterrupted power supply. Then we can look at the energy mix by reducing our carbon footprints. So you can’t sit in the World Bank or in the United Nations until Africa is ready to decarbonize because Africa is not producing the amount of carbon that the Western world is doing. It is in different phases. It’s not a size fit, or whilst the Western world is Decarbonizing, Africa still needs to go through its industrialization phase before decarbonizing.

So our energy mix will be hydrocarbon dependent on the gas side, pending when we are fully industrialized to the point whereby we can maximize renewable energy to provide an uninterrupted power supply.


Interviewer: As we conclude, ma, knowing fully well that you are a successful entrepreneur, what advice would you give to aspiring individuals, particularly the women, who are interested in pursuing a career in the oil in oil and gas industry?


Mrs Ibilola Amao: My first advice is to know who you are and your calling. You must know what you stand for, and you must remain focused.

That’s the first thing. The second thing is ensuring I have the right support system so I don’t joke with my family and siblings; my parents played a significant role in defining who I am in business and my private life. I mean, I’ve been fortunate to have an understanding husband, who allowed me to travel when I had to travel and grow my career and business, provided I had done my duty and responsibility in the home. I also have responsible friends who have supported me with great advice, and I’ve been blessed with mentors and coaches. I’m involved in the right networks and committed to continuing professional development in the relevant associations, institutions and societies. In recent times l have become very much engaged in women empowerment initiatives. So it’s vital to connect women to Commonwealth, business, women’s network, and women in Energy Network, where I’m a co-founder; I’m very much involved in women in empowerment initiatives. That’s why, as I told you earlier, I give much of my time and resources to girls in STEM and women in engineering, energy and entrepreneurship. I want to see them succeed and be even more successful than myself. So I have been able to mentor and coach young women in male-dominated sectors so that they don’t go through as many hurdles as I had to do. Being in a male-dominated environment is not easy, but by the special grace of God and with the right support system and advice, you can succeed. Lastly, I’d like to thank you, and I’d also like to recognize my supportive husband, and my three young adult children, who have given me this space to express myself and do what makes me happy.


Interviewer: Thank you so much, ma’am.





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