The transition also came during a time of remarkable progress in diversity and inclusion. Tobenna says that some aspects have certainly improved in the industry, while other things still need work. She thinks back to her previous company and how she was one of the very few female engineers. During her time there, Tobenna experienced the challenges of being a working mom as she looked to friends and family for help with child care. Now, that company offers a child care facility on-site. Tobenna was also on a team that lacked female representation, though that is now changing as more women enter the field.
“Those are big first steps in terms of progress,” Tobenna says.
Tobenna’s experience with Shell Polymers is still in its infancy, but she is already proud of the work she has seen. She cites her appointment as the first external regional subject matter expert for Shell as one of her most significant accomplishments. This appointment was considered external, as NLNG is a non-operated Shell joint venture. She saw it as a testament of her expertise in the Functional safety space. That kind of recognition was important for Tobenna when she decided to make the switch and work with Shell Polymers.
A Roadmap for the Next Generation
Tobenna urges all new professionals to seek out mentors whenever and wherever possible. In her early career, mentors were not as common as they are today. In fact, since Tobenna was the only woman on her team and the first female head of instrumentation at her previous company, there were no other women to turn to for guidance.
Today, Tobenna looks to remedy that by providing guidance whenever she can. By working alongside a mentor and creating a roadmap for the future, young professionals can have a more actionable plan for their careers. Tobenna adds that having someone who can build up the skills needed to thrive outside your direct line of work is equally important.
“Having a mentor is important. It wasn’t common when I started but it is now. Having someone who speaks up for you is crucial.”