When it comes to professional development, Linda Ibrahim believes in two things above all else: the importance of education and the power of mentorship.
The vice president of tax and government compliance for Vantage Drilling, a global offshore drilling contractor, Ibrahim was the first in her family to earn a college degree — something she pursued with vigor once she realized that hard work alone wasn’t going to be enough.
“I had firsthand knowledge of hard-working people struggling to get by, paycheck to paycheck, and not being able to enjoy much comfort,” Ibrahim (pictured at left) recalls.
“But hard work coupled with a good education seemed to be the perfect recipe.”
For Ibrahim, that education gave her the accounting degree that would launch her professional career. It also introduced her to the concept of mentorship — something that has propelled her further than she ever could have gone on her own.
In fact, her belief in mentorship is so strong that Ibrahim recently convinced Vantage Drilling to make a matching donation to Lean In Energy, the global mentorship community Pink Petro has created in partnership with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization. That donation officially completed the 2017 and launched the 2018 fundraising campaigns to raise $100,000 for Lean In Energy.
Ibrahim’s commitment to mentorship runs deep. Since 2000, she’s served as a volunteer with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit committed to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. And she firmly believes that the best advice you can give to young professionals is to seek out mentors and listen to them — even when they’re critical.
“A mentor does not always take your side. Sometimes they have to be impartial and point out when you’re going down the wrong path. It is very important to listen to people you trust and respect, especially when they’re critical of you. Constructive criticism is necessary for continual growth,” Ibrahim says. “Be thankful when someone has the courage to tell you when you’re wrong; these individuals care enough about you to make you better.”
That desire to constantly learn and grow in her career is part of what drew her to join Vantage Drilling after a career in tax and accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Houston, where most of her clients were in the oil and gas industry.
“The company encourages its employees to get involved in other areas outside of their direct responsibilities,” Ibrahim explains. “For me, this environment is an abundant learning ground.”
Plus, since Vantage is relatively young and small, it relies on key personnel to fill multiple roles. That means Ibrahim’s responsibilities extend far beyond those typically associated with a corporate tax department.
“As part of my governmental compliance role, I ensure that the different laws — e.g. labor law, immigration law, corporate law, customs laws and tax law — are aligned. As you can imagine, every statute is distinct and the rules don’t necessarily align seamlessly,” Ibrahim says. “Therefore, much of what I do day to day is align the company’s operations in a manner that is as efficient and as compliant as possible.”
And every so often, she gets to do something completely out of her comfort zone — like this summer, when she visited a working offshore drilling rig for the first time in her career.
“The experience was full of firsts for me as I have a fear of water and heights,” Ibrahim explains. “There were multiple times when my fear was significant and I wanted to give up. I motivated myself to push through because, when I volunteered for the opportunity, I wanted to experience the challenges faced by our rig crews, and to me, it was important that I demonstrate the willingness of a ‘corporate office’ employee to experience the difficult environment that the crews face every day.”
In her philanthropic work with Junior Achievement, Ibrahim works to prepare the next generation of leaders for a career full of challenges, excitement and opportunity — no matter what they want to pursue.
“I believe in education, and I know that many children grow up in homes where education is either not valued or is a struggle. Teaching through Junior Achievement makes me recognize the educational disadvantages that many children face, and it is gratifying to know that I can help by inspiring children to learn and have hope.”
We’re very grateful that commitment to inspiration and education has now extended to Lean In Energy. Women are poised to take on a powerful role in the future of energy, and Lean In Energy was created to support those women. As Ibrahim has experienced firsthand, the energy industry can be a wonderful place to build a successful and rewarding career.
Ibrahim also believes in taking ownership of that career — and keeping a positive attitude no matter what comes your way.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunities that you want. Don’t assume that doing a good job is sufficient. Ask for those interesting and challenging projects, volunteer for special assignments, request candid feedback and take corrective action,” she says.