Kindness and vulnerability. According to Naana Danquah Jefferson, general counsel, Americas land at SLB, these two attributes are the most important when approaching leadership in the oil and gas industry, and maintaining that people-first mindset is key to building on the sector’s growth.

“One thing I try to remember, remind myself of is that kindness is something that we all should exercise,” she said. “It's not something we should shy away from.”

Danquah Jefferson spoke to Hart Energy executive editor-at-large Nissa Darbonne about the advancements in technology and electrification the industry has made thus far, as well as how to continue thriving in the future. Click here to view her complete 25 Influential Women in Energy profile.

Nissa Darbonne: So you've been in this industry for a couple decades – well, really kind of a little more than that – but I'm wondering from your perspective, what have you seen over the years in terms of the business advancing, getting better?

Naana Danquah Jefferson: That's a great question, Nissa. Thank you. I think one of the things that we're seeing is where we've seen things getting better within the industry is in regard to diversity and inclusion. It is just really great to see more women in the field in management positions, as well as in C-suite positions, and also seeing the same for people of color. Representation matters, and to see someone that looks like you in a position that you aspire to is very important. I think there's still work to do within the industry, but I am extremely proud of SLB and the advances that they've made in the workforce.

In addition, we have our employee resource groups – people call them ERGs – where employees get together, kind of grassroots efforts. We've seen it with our Connect Women group, with our Black Organization for Leadership and [Diversity], LGBT+ [and] allies and our ThisAbility network. And even recently, we were named as one of the industries to work for, for people with disabilities. So diversity has been part of our DNA and it's something that we are very proud of and we look forward to supporting in the years to come.

ND: As general counsel, Americas land for SLB, I imagine a lot of what comes to you involves the electrification of the oilfield. Great strides are being made there. I'm wondering, what is an example of innovation that the oil industry has made in that area?

NDJ: Nissa, yes. I think that is an example of the commitment companies within the industry are making to achieving the 2050 net zero targets. Electrification is key to supporting customers, to power the industry more sustainably. And in many ways, for example, with some equipment, it's not new to the industry. The recent SLB rebranding has put an increased focus on an area that was part of who we were and who we are, and really demonstrating the fact that we are a global technology company driving [energy] innovation for a balanced planet.

ND: Thank you. And then I'm sure that over the years, you've seen a lot of mistakes. You've probably maybe noticed we make a few already in visiting with you for this. But what are some common mistakes you've seen over the years others make that, you know, you can kind of point out so that they… it'll be helpful to not make those going forward?

NDJ: Yeah, that's another great question, and I think one of them is just sometimes forgetting the people. I, you know, having the technical skills and the experience are of course extremely important and necessary, but we can't forget the emotional IQ and the people side of the equation as well. And just remembering too that everybody deserves the same level of respect, right? It's not just managing up, it's managing and being able to interact with people at all levels within the organization.

And one thing I try to remember, remind myself of is that kindness is something that we all should exercise, right? It's not something we should shy away from. I say kindness and vulnerability. Let's put that together. Sometimes two of the hardest things to marry. But two things that are extremely important and that we should remember because in those instances is where people have the opportunity to learn, grow and share their experiences that transcends, you know, professional and personal life.