The Executive Director, Subsea Services, Baker Hughes, a GE company, sub-Saharan Africa, Feyi Okungbowa, spoke on her career path, technology transformation and the company’s contribution to Nigeria’s economy. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:
Given your experience in information systems and computing, how have you applied the use of technology in managing your line of business?
Technology application in any line of business is always an enabler to fast-track process automation. Today, technology is driving the world and businesses are deploying technology for production efficiency, job management and expansion that will in turn yield high returns on investment.
GE as a company is driven by technology. We have the GE Garage where skills are developed through the application of 3D print technology. As an individual, I am a technology savvy person and our systems and processes are automated and we deploy technology in driving our processes. Businesses globally are investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Big Data Analytics, which are modern day technology tools that are driving business processes and efficiency at work place.
Tell us about your current role, its responsibilities and contributions to company objectives?
My role as Executive Director, Subsea Services for Oilfield Equipment (OFE) business covering sub-Saharan Africa is accountable for a multimillion-dollar business with a head count of 200 full-time employees across SSA. My job involves securing in-region execution of services, including Subsea Production Systems (SPS) equipment, field service and customer fulfilment. I focus on business strategy and people development. Also, it covers localisation, supply chain, training/knowledge transfer for business competitiveness. In addition, the role delivers on organisation’s objectives on quality, on-time delivery, customer satisfaction and profitability. Our world-class facilities include the OFE site in Onne, River State – a centre of excellence, run by over 95 per cent skilled Nigerian workforce, particularly for Xmas Tree (XTs) refurbishment – with customers like Shell, ENI and Addax. Another is a multi-modal facility in Luanda, Angola supporting our fullstream offerings i.e. upstream, midstream and downstream, also run by a majority of skilled Angolans.
As a woman, you occupy a senior role in a male-dominated industry. How did you rise to this position?
I believe it’s through hard work, pure dedication and not focusing on gender per se. I also believe in mentorship and learning from other people’s experiences. Networking has also been key in my career progress. But most importantly, consistency in delivering results. Fortunately, BHGE’s culture enabled a nurturing and safe environment to foster professionalism. It celebrates diversity of gender, thoughts and orientations in its workforce.
What has been the biggest or most impactful projects you have worked on at BHGE?
My current job is perhaps the most impactful, in terms of the financials, impact on people development, capacity building, and creating a sustainable business in SSA. We started with the localisation of the engineering function through annual recruitments of University graduates into BHGE engineering internship programmes. Also, our ASPIRE programme targets young graduates across varied disciplines, exposing them to early career opportunities in quality, supply chain, finance, project management etc. Moreover, I am a product of BHGE late career programme – IMPACT: an accelerated leadership journey for BHGE senior leaders, globally.
Regulation of Nigeria oil and gas industry places emphasis on localisation and local content. How compliant is BHGE in this regard? How is it adding value beyond its commercial interests?
For BHGE, localisation is a way of working and key business enabler, rather than just rules and regulation to be complied with. In other words, localisation means working sustainably, taking into consideration, stakeholders, contexts and needs. We have made strides in localising all our operations. For instance, in our subsea business, we have implemented a deliberate localisation strategy of engineers, technicians and field service personnel through internships, technical programmes and on-the-job training. Our Onne Oilfield Services base is proof of this. In operation since 2002, Onne is an ISO 9001:2015 certified facility’s capabilities include Subsea Production Equipment Repairs, assembly of subsea wellhead and Mud mat, Subsea Tree build and test. These in-country capabilities especially on Xmas Tree refurbishment (we are approaching an industry landmark figure of 25 XTs) translate to shorter times lines, cost efficiencies for customers. Onne’s sophisticated set-up is run by a majority Nigerian workforce. Our supply chain works with local suppliers in adding technical capacity to SMEs. BHGE localization empowers the industry by developing Nigeria’s capacity for domestic needs and international deployment.
With the recent stability of the oil and gas industry, following the volatility and upheavals of the previous five years, how do you see the industry’s future, particularly in Nigeria?
Specific to the subsea business, we have moved from the traditional ways of pricing for products and services to a more collaborative effort; with us working more with customers to deliver solutions tailored to desired outcomes. We call this Subsea Connect. This is driving more collaboration and significant commercial innovation to achieve results. This requires more technical expertise from suppliers such as our latest technology Aptara, which is simpler and lower total cost over the project lifespan.
We understand BHGE is bidding for the Bonga Deepwater project, building on the capability in your Onne facility, what are your chances of winning?
Bonga is a deal BHGE has been working on over the past 12 years at several rounds. We have spent many years building in-country technical and physical presence and expertise, including a Centre of Excellence in our Onne base. We have completely refurbished 16 trees till date and on course to achieving 25 as well as built many new trees from this base. In addition, we provide all services of a Life of Field contract from Onne including equipment management, storage, spares, field services deployment, equipment repair, refurbishment and recertification. Onne base has a high bay for large assemblies, gas test chamber, clean room for subsea control modules and Specialty Connector and pipe facility, Subsea Control Module and EDP/LRP refurbishments. We have a strong track record of SPS projects execution and delivery in Nigeria deep waters and SSA. In readiness for Bonga, we have the required infrastructure in country, with a skilled Nigerian team experienced in delivering complex scopes. Our robust supply chain works with local companies to deliver engineering, fabrication and procurement in-country. In all, we are confident of our capabilities in Bonga bid and execution.