Mireille Toulekima is an Award-Winning global Entrepreneur and Consultant in the oil and gas industry. She is the Managing director of the Perth Australia based oil and gas consulting company MT Energy Resources Ltd. A petroleum Engineer who received her Bachelor of Sciences from ISERPA (Institut Superieur de Recherche en Production Automatisee) in France and gained her experience working for more than 20 years in a range of technical and management assignments for Shell Exploration and Production International (Gabon, Holland, Malaysia), Santos Ltd (Australia), Woodside Energy Ltd (Australia) and Sasol Exploration and Production International (South Africa, Mozambique), Mireille is a key enabler with respect to Local Content with expertise in developing and emerging markets. She has Authored three books of which: “Local Content Key Enabler for Oil and Gas projects in Emerging Markets: Investing, Developing and Providing Oversight in Countries of Operation” was published in 2015. The oil and gas industry has met this book release with great acclaim, further launching Mireille’s expertise in the oil and gas sector and placing her firmly in the limelight as an oil and gas expert. Her second book but first motivational one called “Stepping into Your Greatness: Twelve rules for building an outstanding life” was published in October 2016. In this book, Mireille has stepped out of her focus on oil, gas and energy, Local Content and Emerging Markets to express her passion for personal development and Greatness Engineering by sharing with readers the rules she thinks have brought greatness into her life. Her third book and second technical one “Natural Gas Strategies: the role of Emerging and Developing markets” will be published globally in March 2019. In this book, Mireille shares how and to what extent developing and emerging markets will contribute to the global natural gas strategies to guaranty energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. A champion and advocate for STEM, diversity and women leadership and advancement in the oil and gas sectors, Mireille has been identified and recognized as a woman in STEM of global influence. Mireille is the founder of Women Oil Gas and Energy Africa Club. She is the Chair and a global executive mentor of the UAE-AFRICA Mentoring and Development Consortium (UAMDC), a non-executive board member of the Global Women’s Enterprise Project (WEP), the Australia mentor coordinator of the Lean In Energy organization supported by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the women in STEM champion at Women Economic Imperative (WEI) organization and Female Wave of Change organization ambassador for Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific. In 2017, she funded Mireille Toulekima Global Leadership (MTGL) Organisation, an organisation on a mission to engineer greatness in every corner of the world and empower individuals, entrepreneurs and organizations to greater achievement and success to become the best that they can be in everything they accomplish. MTGL organization signature program is the D.A.R.E Leadership developed by Mireille after 5 years of intensive research.
Why did you get into STEM?
I always say that my relationship with STEM was love at 2nd sight and not love at first sight. I did like maths and physics at school and was doing well at it, but I can’t say that I was really passionate about it! I started my engineering career at a very low moment in my life. I had to cut short my studies at the bachelor level when my dad passed away in order to find a job. That was fortunately when an oil and gas Exploration and Production multinational was launching an aggressive national recruitment campaign in Gabon (my country of origin). This big multinational was looking for local Gabonese talents who had a science background. I was one of the young talents they recruited back then to work as a petroleum engineer. When I joined this multinational, I did not know anything about the oil and gas industry which made my beginning in the industry very challenging but nonetheless very rewarding because of the multinational nature of the company and access to global experts on the daily basis. As I was getting access to a wider network and growing my knowledge of the industry, I really started to enjoy this dynamic and exciting industry which continues to fascinate me today more than anything after more than twenty years of involvement and this made my interest grow to the wider STEM and become a great advocate of women in STEM for the last 10 years.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement has been becoming a global influencer in my area of expertise and becoming a role model for many young women around the world. When I started in the oil and gas industry knowing nothing about the industry at all, I would have never imagined that I would become one of the most sought after African woman oil and gas expert not only on the African continent but also globally. From the very humble beginning I had back in the small country of Gabon working in one of the most remote area, I would have never thought that I would achieve such a thing. So that has to be my greatest achievement so far!!
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
The road was very rocky at times. There were setbacks, challenges, obstacles and times when I wanted to quit but I kept on telling myself that giving up was not an option. I decided to keep at it and fought hard to have a fulfilling international career and a global impact in the industry. The challenges were many, but my biggest challenge was the ongoing fight to gain respect and be recognized fairly for my contribution in this male-dominated sphere. It was the fight against the “boys club” to get those promotions I thought I deserved. I constantly had to prove myself and work twice as hard to breakthrough. My hard work and determination coupled with the mentorship, sponsorship and support of some brave men and colleagues have been key for me to have a very accomplished international career and sustain an exceptional level of expertise and professionalism. At the end, it came down to having the determination, being focused, capitalising on my high emotional intelligence and adopting the right mindset. I was always very optimistic. I adopted a positive mindset and embraced every challenges and opportunities in my professional life and learnt from the different setbacks that have been stepping stones to my professional success. I played on my hard work, learning abilities, uniqueness, inner feminine power and authenticity to always bring something of value on the table and make a real impact wherever I have worked. I focused on the big picture which was for me to make a difference in the oil and gas sector while developing my brand and positioning myself as an industry expert and disruptor!
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
The advice I would like to give to budding women in STEM is to be ambitious and have a clear vision of their career in STEM. They must work hard toward that vision and always strive for excellence. They should connect with experienced and successful women in STEM, learn from them and build a strong supporting system (mentors, coach etc..) around them that will help them navigate the stormy periods of their career. I would particularly advise to have at least one or two men mentors/sponsors. Men mentors have played a key role in my professional success in STEM. They have been great sponsors to help me navigate the rigid system that exists in STEM sectors. Despite the challenges, they should know that everything is here to serve them. Each challenge will be a blessing in disguise when they embrace it and learn from it. Giving up is not an option! They should take advantage of all opportunities, step out of their comfort zone and use any obstacles and challenges they face, any stumbling blocks as stepping stones to their success in STEM.