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Highlighting the female career pipeline

Renad Ismail shares her experience of the female career pipeline at Saudi Aramco.


Over the past few years, women have started venturing into the previously male-dominated field of engineering in ever increasing numbers. Renad Ismail is one such employee who has already made her mark in a powerful way at Saudi Aramco.

As a company, we place a high value on strengthening the female career pipeline, and Ismail’s success is evidence that the first section of this pipeline is running smoothly.

An early career chemical engineer who started in the College Degree Program for Non-Employees (CDPNE), Ismail has most recently worked on our Crude Oil to Chemicals project team.

Chemicals is the fastest growing crude oil demand sector, and also the fastest growing segment of our business. We’re developing new, more efficient ways to convert crude oil into chemicals, resulting in chemicals that are less expensive to produce and that have a light energy and carbon intensity.

The Chemicals Business Coordination and Support Department (CBC&SD) Crude Oil to Chemicals project team, which Ismail was part of, was awarded the 2018 Saudi Aramco Excellence Award, with recognition from the president and CEO and the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors.

Questions & Answers with Renad Ismail:

Q: Hi, Renad. What an honor to be part of the Crude Oil to Chemicals project team and gain recognition in the 2018 Saudi Aramco Excellence Awards. Tell us about the work you did with the team.

A: The project team was large. The scope of the project was to develop highly integrated process configurations to convert crude oil to chemicals at unprecedented rates. I was part of the Chemicals Business technical team and headed the IP team responsible for writing and submitting patent documents and applications for 72 technical schemes of the project, including 65 configurations and more than 200 possible embodiments.

Q: Having worked in the company for only five years, what were your thoughts on working on a large-scale project such as this?

A: It was a great honor to be selected by my department. My happiness was indescribable, and I felt the recognition was a tribute to every work task, assignment, and educational certification I have earned since my start with the company in 2007 as a CDPNE.

Q: In our conversations, you mentioned previous work you have done that you felt led you to this point in your career. What are some of those stepping stones?

A: I worked on a number of petrochemical projects with CBC&SD and also with the Process and Control Systems Department. Also, besides being interested in the technical and petrochemical field, I have done work in project management, earning PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. This was a valuable assignment and learning experience.

Q: Working in a field that is seen as unconventional for women, what support have you received in your career?

A: There is significant support from the company for Saudi women, not only to attract and then provide a quality work environment, but also to accommodate female engineers by developing them scientifically and professionally. Over the past five years, I was exposed to a range of programs presented by the Women Development and Diversity Division that was fundamental in my development.

I was also sponsored by the Chemicals admin area to earn a master’s degree in advanced chemical engineering, and while doing so, I coauthored and published a paper that was presented during the 68th meeting of the American Physical Society.

Q: So, we’ve talked about support at work, but as a female in a challenging industry, have you received support outside of work from family and friends?

A: My family’s role was and still is very important to me. The support I received from my mother and my husband during my master’s program was one of the most important factors that enabled me to complete my mission. They are the source of my strength and steadiness during moments of doubt or weakness. Their support always encouraged me to do more.

But I do have to say that the role of your professional family, as well as your family at home, are both very critical. I am blessed by the support of both families. The appreciation, respect, and cooperative work environment I have found with the Chemicals Team at CBC&SD has always been an incentive and a motive to progress.

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