Dr Ismaila Ibrahim, a petroleum engineer, is reflecting on his recent achievements with three prestigious awards under his belt. These accolades have not only recognised his exceptional work but have also served as a tremendous source of motivation for him and others. While speaking with Rebecca Ejifoma in Lagos on his quest to continue pushing the boundaries and make significant contributions to his industry, Ibrahim talks about his mentorship programmes to give other young people a leg up
Young professionals in Nigeria and beyond are creating new records and achieving success in various fields. Whether through scientific breakthroughs, artistic expression, or personal growth, these individuals make a difference and inspire others to do the same.
One such professional is Nigeria’s Dr Ismaila Ibrahim. He is a petroleum engineer, food enthusiast and mentor for young people to attain sterling feats in their spaces. Ibrahim is an energy influencer and change-maker. His experience spans the energy value chain from Project Management, Contracts, Procurement and Supply with a successful record of developing and maintaining high-performing client networks across the Oil & Gas, Marine Sector, designing, vast in Project Management, Cost Engineering, Performance Evaluation, Vessels Management, Subsea Installation/Maintenance, ROV Inspection.
What stirred his interest in the energy field
In his narration, he walked THISDAY through what stirred his interest in the energy field.
“From the training I got from the Petroleum Training Institute in Africa, through exposure and the realisation that I can apply my knowledge and impact real-life situations, my first love was processing and controlling the interactions between the parameters and how they can alter the final products at different stages. I was also motivated by stories of older folks who started in the same field and are now successfully impacting lives.”
Thanks to those positive tales, Ibrahim became further exposed to the various skills required in the industry — from the technical to the non-technical and, recently, energy transition — as he grew older. “Despite the hazards and risks associated with the industry, it comes with great rewards and satisfaction,” he expressed. Awards
Little wonder his skills have earned him multiple awards. He won the Africa Regional Award for Projects, Facilities and Construction of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, The Energy Influencer Award, and The Way Ahead (TWA) Energy Influencers Class of 2021, which comprises 17 exceptional young professionals under the age of 36 who excel in their fields at a level superior to that of their peers, yielding second-to-none achievements. He also has the Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration Award to his credit.
On how the awards and recognition have influenced his career and, in turn, influenced others, the engineer noted, “With the help of God, these awards have further motivated me to do more and aspire for more greatness.”Mentorship
While he reckons with the significance of gaining ground in his space, Ibrahim is passionate about greasing the wheels of other young people for a better future and healthy society. “I volunteer from time to time; I speak and mentor young people because there are too many of them who need some direction and counselling. I enjoy mentoring people because I have benefitted from mentorships,” Ibrahim acknowledged.
The certified management consultant admitted how timid and reserved he was growing up as a young boy. “I avoided everything that would put me in the spotlight or generate attention. Even though I feel that way sometimes to date, I have realised that I cannot help it.” He is confident that one of his life mantras is giving back to society. “As a beneficiary of mentorship, there is the natural urge to distribute and impact. I want to be amongst those who will lead this change.”
From being a mentor himself to having mentees, Ibrahim enjoys investing in tech startups. Still, he has learnt to prioritise his workload and manage multiple energy projects simultaneously. “I keep a note manually, which I carry anywhere I am going. I give attention to each according to their respective timelines/milestones. I am flexible and adaptable when priorities change, and sometimes I delegate as much as possible.”
His strategies to meet these aims are to connect, understand goals and objectives, support and share experiences — continuous engagement through various methods. “Currently, I use small groups and generally through the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and other professional associations.”
Although he is determined to make a lasting change across sectors, he understood the instruction, “Let the poor breathe”. “I have managed to create an itinerary that I stick to,” he chipped in. “During these sessions, we discuss real issues and how they affect our lives, lessons, and strategies to overcome and tackle some of them. Most of my mentees are from the SPE”.
Interestingly, Ibrahim has often counted his blessings. One of those blessings is the Energy Influencer Award he clinched in 2021. “It was indeed humbling and motivating at the same time,” he expressed gleefully. “It was a highly competitive award with over 100 nominations from high-profile energy professionals globally. It was thankfully dignifying when I was nominated for the Emerging Leaders Alliance (USA) in 2018.”
Arguably, it is uncommon to see a multiple award-winning engineer who enjoys travelling dabbling in fast food as a side hustle. He has established a restaurant in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, to express his undying love for whipping up good food. “I understand that one of the ways to build wealth is to leverage; hence, I decided to venture into other areas harnessing my vast network, thereby diversifying my income and reach whilst touching lives.”
Taking a page from Martin Luther King, the petroleum engineer says he has a dream that one day he will lead change and contribute to the policies that drive the energy industry even as he explores other fields.
Despite having his fingers in many pies, Ibrahim, a proud MBA holder from Cardiff Metropolitan University, stays current with field developments. He attends conferences, exhibitions, technical meetings, and other industry-specific networking events to keep abreast of recent findings and results in the industry. This is his passion, determination and disposition playing out for the good of his career, mentees, and society.