The rise of women Chief Information Officers across industry
October 25, 2022
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of women appointed in senior positions in the Oil and Gas industry. In addition, there is significant growth in the number of women-owned businesses in this industry, however, much still needs to be done to attract and retain women in this sector.
Focusing on the tech environment within the sector, women are playing a significant role in addressing some of the most complex issues facing the industry.
There is an increasing trend of women occupying Chief Information Officer (CIO) roles in previously male dominated industries like Automotive and also Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). These women are a testament of the saying by Penelope Lockwood, a psychologist who inspired the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace when she said, “Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success, illustrating the kinds of achievements that are possible for women around them. They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.”
Innovating for a better world
Many companies across the world are recognized for their impressive achievements in supporting the career growth of female tech talent. And one such company is Sasol, a global chemicals and energy company that harnesses its knowledge and expertise to integrate sophisticated technologies and processes into world-scale operating facilities.
Based in Sandton in South Africa, the company safely and sustainably sources, produces, and markets a range of high-quality products in 22 countries, creating value for its stakeholders. With many senior women leading business critical operations, and talented women working within the company’s tech teams, Sasol maintains its focus on ‘Innovating for a better world.’
Sasol women take bold steps to reimagine the future. Their ‘can-do’ spirit, which is so ingrained in the company’s DNA, pushes them to always strive for excellence and adopt new approaches, and to continuously evolve and improve. Innovating speaks to doing things differently, and in new ways.
Sasol employees ensure a better future for the communities served and operated in – especially regarding gender equality. Their contributions are exemplified in the various projects the company participates in, such as supporting women’s football in South Africa, and supporting various skills development programmes run for communities and women-led small businesses.
Meet executive leader Ndiitwani Grace Nndwammbi
One impressive woman working in the Oil and Gas industry is Sasol Senior Vice President, Ndiitwani Grace Nndwammbi, an accomplished Supply Chain, Logistics, Financial and Risk Management Professional.
Grace is firmly committed to women’s advancement and is recognized as an important role model for many women rising in their careers.
Grace leads Sasol’s Energy Business Services and has more than two decades of impressive experience and has led large teams locally and internationally, predominantly in the oil, gas and petroleum industry. She serves on various boards including as Chairman of Siyakha Enterprise & Supplier Development Trust, and as Director for Sasol South Africa Pty Ltd, and Sasol Oil Pty Ltd.
She has many career highlights including overseeing the improvement of the Sasol Supply Chain Strategy and Operations Black-owned spend from R7,5 billion to R26,2 billion in 24 months which significantly contributed to the transformation drive which resulted in Sasol achieving a level 3 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) rating.
Under Grace’s leadership, Sasol Oil Supply Chain, has been awarded various industry accolades such as the Logistics Achiever Awards that recognises excellence and professionalism in the effective application of strategic, tactical, and operational logistics and supply chain management principles, concepts, and practices in Southern Africa. She has also enabled Gold and Silver awards for excellence in logistics and company performance through integrated supply chain planning.
In addition to her B Com (Acc) and MBA (Finance) degrees, Grace holds qualifications in leadership and advanced management programmes from the Universities of Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch.
Privately she holds various roles in leadership in philanthropic and community organisations.
Grace manages a large portfolio that includes supply chain, finance, information management, human resources, and real estate services. Grace also played a key role in establishing and stabilising the Business Services/Shared Services for Sasol.
One of Grace’s firm interests is supporting more women into technology roles, and she enjoys seeing women advance their careers through in the company’s tech positions.
Moving up the corporate ladder
Impressive women are not a rarity within Sasol.
"For me, coming from a very poor background and becoming one of the executives at Sasol is something I am grateful and proud of. This places me in a good position to achieve my ultimate purpose which is to make a difference in people’s lives and help them," she explains. "I strive to make a difference in people lives both at work and outside of work, so the impact is genuine and sustainable."
As Michelle Obama once said: "Success isn't about how much money you make; it's about the difference you make in people's lives.”
Salient career advice for rising women leaders
Sasol provides useful career advice from aspirational women leaders, such as:
- Be clear on your career aspiration or definition of victory.
- Have a clear roadmap on how you will get to your definition of victory. No matter how challenging the journey might be, your focus and determination should be on the ultimate prize.
- Your ultimate measure should be based on ultimate value add onto other people’s lives and growth.
- As a person you represent a brand, and only you have a good understanding of the brand you want to represent and legacy you want to live behind.
- Like Maya Angelou said: “You have no idea what your legacy will be because your legacy is every life you touch."
Wonderful career advice and food for thought indeed!
PARTNER CONTENT: Developed in collaboration to support IWD's Women and Tech Mission.