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Shining a Spotlight on Energy People: Chinyere Bibian Odogwu AMEI

20/9/2023

8 min read

Head and shoulders photo of Chinyere Bibian Odogwu Photo: C Odogwu
Chinyere Bibian Odogwu AMEI, Energy Transition Xccelerator, X-Academy, Aberdeen

Photo: C Odogwu

In our latest Spotlight on Energy People interview with Energy Institute (EI) members, we learn about the career and experience of Chinyere Bibian Odogwu AMEI, currently working at the Energy Transition Xccelerator in X-Academy, Aberdeen.

Q: Tell us your background and when you first became interested in energy?
A: I grew up in Nigeria, where littering and waste disposal were uncontrolled. As a 14-year-old secondary school student, I took part in an essay competition titled ‘A school or society devoid of littering is a small heaven on earth’. This started my interest in energy and the environment.

 

Throughout my BSc studies in industrial chemistry, I was sure about having a career centred around energy, recycling or environmental remediation.

 

After my first degree, I started a plastic waste awareness journey aimed at encouraging plastic recycling to reduce energy consumption associated with manufacturing and incinerating plastic in controlled facilities to produce heat and energy.

 

Q: Tell us a little about your current job, industry and location?
A: I left PwC Nigeria as an Audit Senior on a career break to obtain an MSc in Energy Management. My roles at PwC were not limited to financial audit, but included reviews and assurance for transmission and distribution projects and mining.

 

After completing my MSc at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, in 2022, I joined X-Academy, an energy skills transitioning organisation. I have been involved in several projects in the UK and abroad within the scope of innovation, STEM, research, data and carbon management.

 

I'm now supporting the North Sea transition through carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), carbon footprinting and emissions assessment, and offshore wind projects. I also volunteer with SSERC and STEM Learning as a STEM Ambassador where I inspire and communicate science to children at primary and junior secondary school level.

 

As an enthusiast for climate literacy and advocacy, I love that I can get involved in the different aspects of energy transition and still be able to communicate that in its simplest form to children.

 

Q: How has being an Associate Member (AMEI) of the Energy Institute benefitted you in your career?
A: I have been an Associate Member since January 2023 after transitioning from Student Member. Prior to that, I attended EI Young Professional Network events, which gave me the opportunity to meet new people with whom I’m still in contact to date. I also like that I can access training cheaper or free, as well as the opportunity to volunteer within the EI.

 

Q: How are your role and being part of the EI contributing toward a just transition to net zero? 
A: My current career strategy is aligned with research, data and carbon management. The EI’s website has resources that I use as reference to define a pathway for myself, including continuing professional development (CPD) as well as opportunities to get involved within the Institute.

 

I am hoping more CPDs are included to create opportunities for people transitioning from non-STEM backgrounds.

 

Q: Can you provide more info on the projects you have worked on? 
A: I am currently seconded to the Morven offshore wind project as a Project Coordinator/Consent Advisor for the HSE & Consenting Team. I am continuously immersing myself in several project concepts, regulations and documentations, as well as environmental activities and campaigns relating to consenting.

 

I am also involved in carbon footprint assessments and Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) projects, to support oil and gas companies in scoping and assessing procedures for monitoring and verifying emissions. I currently champion the X-Academy’s carbon footprinting and emissions assessment at an organisational level.

 

I enjoyed working on a CCUS strategy project to support North Sea transitioning. The part of the project which I am involved in includes collecting pipeline connectivity data that will help decision makers better understand the relationship between oil and gas fields and their associated terminals for CCUS considerations.

 

Knowing that the future of the energy transition will be driven by innovation and data, I see a lot more acceptance for robotics, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). This will increase efficiency in offshore operations and management, optimise energy use, and improve efficiency across the demand and supply chain for producers and consumers.

 

I look forward to more modular innovations that will make energy efficiency and low-carbon transportation more accessible.

 

Q: What are the key challenges the North Sea energy sector needs to overcome? And what success stories can the rest of the global energy sector learn from North Sea energy? 
A: Many oil and gas assets in the North Sea are reaching the end of production so investment decisions within the context of decommissioning, abandonment and repurposing comes into play. Some assets are considered for decommissioning, others for repurposing/retrofitting for renewable projects like CCUS, hydrogen, etc.

 

However, financing and environmental considerations, as well as regulations and policies across the different jurisdictions, can impact energy security and the level of climate adaptability.

 

Another important conversation that should be amplified is circular decommissioning in the North Sea. It would be a challenging one to adopt, but more research and innovation will support the deployment in the long term.

 

Q: How are you influencing net zero?
A: Personally, I am actively reducing my carbon footprint by adopting energy efficient practices at home and encouraging others to do so, minimising waste, encouraging recycling and mostly travelling on foot whenever practical.


In my organisation, I am actively involved in raising awareness on travel emissions and supporting the organisation’s sustainability strategy through active conversations, sensitisation activities and learning. I am also involved in my organisation’s social impact hub, where we help organisations, communities and charities through innovations, tools and services for a positive and long-term social impact.

 

I convey the concepts of recycling and natural resource conservation to school children while engaging them in STEM learning.

 

I attended EI Young Professional Network events, which gave me the opportunity to meet new people with whom I’m still in contact to date. I also like that I can access training cheaper or free, as well as the opportunity to volunteer within the EI network.

 

Q: What are your experiences of working as a Nigerian woman in the UK energy industry? What recommendations/insights can you offer to increase and improve gender and ethnic diversity in the sector? 
A: I must say that it has been quite a journey for me. Firstly, I acknowledge that my skills from my previous experiences are transferable into the industry. It had been the same industry, but different roles. The work environment I experienced in Nigeria was very balanced. PwC’s culture allowed everyone to thrive and earn based on their performance and some professional requirements. I don’t know about how much work that must be done by individuals for further recognition, but the expectation was the same across genders.

 

Bringing that mindset to the UK, I would say X-Academy and Xodus did meet the expectations. However, it was a totally different environment for me, and I realised that I needed to push myself more for relevance and visibility.

 

Furthermore, it is evident that the energy industry is typically associated with oil and gas, and occupations within this sector tend to be linked with engineering and technical related roles. These roles have been dominated by men for a long time.

 

In the context of the UK’s educational trends, specifically the Nat 5 or GSCE scores, engineering and STEM subjects are taken mostly by male students. Most of them move on to university or apprenticeship courses and work as technically skilled persons in industry, outnumbering the women.

 

Bringing this back to myself, it seemed more challenging to find my feet in this space, first as a woman, and a migrant, and one from an ethnic minority. We work hard for ourselves and our families and sometimes it feels like I have to double my effort at every point to make myself more visible for roles that I am sure I can perform in effortlessly.

 

On the bright side, the industry is changing in terms of skills, demographics and projects, allowing for a more diversified workforce. In order to combat climate change, more green jobs are emerging. Green talents and a green economy are required across all skill sets and businesses, and I think that this will allow for more diversified collaboration and engagement across groups. I can't say when we'll see this balance, but we will.

 

Q: Given your volunteering experience, how would you recommend encouraging young people, especially girls, to enter the energy industry and inspire them to work on the energy transition? 
A: I believe it is important for people to identify what is most important to them, how much value they want to take from and contribute to it. No opportunity or experience is irrelevant, so it is okay to begin a career in a different sector and apply the experience in the energy industry whenever the opportunity arises.

 

While in university, become active in relevant industry networking and volunteering activities, attend bootcamps, improve your social media presence, especially LinkedIn, get a mentor and seek guidance and feedback from them periodically.  

 

It is also important to invest in continuous self-improvement. Identify the primary skills you’ve learned and use them to create some personal projects that can be applied to solving corporate problems; then discuss your findings. ‘Own it and show it,’ I say.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author only and are not necessarily given or endorsed by or on behalf of the Energy Institute.   

 

You can find more information about EI Membership and the Shining a Spotlight on Energy People series here.