Home African CEOs Profiles Eghosa Oriaikhi Mabhena’s Journey to Becoming the CEO of Puma Energy Africa
Profiles - June 4, 2021

Eghosa Oriaikhi Mabhena’s Journey to Becoming the CEO of Puma Energy Africa

Growing up in Nigeria in the 90s, Eghosa Oriaihi Mabhena observed the insufficiencies with energy supply in Nigeria. As she grew older, it became clear this was the reality in several other African countries. For Eghosa, it was not hard to see the many welfares, health and economic benefits that could come from providing a better system and infrastructure for energy supply on the continent. She drew a lot of inspiration from her dad who was a mechanical engineer and believed she could play a vital role in improved access to energy on the continent. 

“I think this ambition, whether I knew it or not at the time, was always hardwired into my psyche, especially given the work my dad was doing. And technology has come a long way since then, so there was no doubt in my mind that studying mechanical engineering and following in my father’s footsteps would make for a very rewarding career.”

An inspired 16-year-old  Eghosa, left the shores of her home country for London to make her engineering dreams a reality. At the time, she found she was among very few young girls who thought this career path worthwhile. Eghosa went on to obtain a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the University College of London, UK and a Global Executives MBA from IESE Business School in Spain. 

Eghosa’s career started with her role at Schlumberger, an international oil field services company where she spent nine years before proceeding to hold several director positions at Baker Hughes, another leading global oil field company. In July 2019, she joined Puma Energy as a member of the Executive Committee and returned to Africa to spearhead the company’s regional division. Eghosa was finally back home in a capacity where she could actively make her vision for improved access to energy in Africa a reality.

Since arriving, Eghosa’s focus has been on building the One Puma One Africa team, a unit of Puma Energy created to drive value across 17 African countries. She leads teams spanning corporate strategy, business development and government relations, all the while developing strategic relationships with critical stakeholders.

She said, “I am very passionate about two things. The first is about becoming a preferred place to work and be, and the second is executing our strategy and becoming a preferred supplier to our customers”.

Speaking on creating value for people, Eghosa said, “Yes, of course, we want to continue building value for our investors and shareholders, but we are also becoming an increasingly customer-centric business. The way to win is for customers to fall in love with the brand and identify with Puma. That’s how we deliver value and success.” 

Eghosa was recently named by Reset Global People in its Top 100 Women CEOs in Africa. She describes the award as highly humbling and an indicator that sometimes you need a nudge to remind you that you’ve been doing the right thing. 

“The day I found out was one of the toughest I have had since moving out to South Africa. I remember getting home at about eight o’clock and thinking wow this is tough, and my sister called telling me to get off the sofa and look at the link she had sent me. 

I opened it and was confused – I didn’t know how I had been ranked and I hadn’t been contacted, but once I had a chance to take it in, I realised that from time to time you need a reminder that you are doing the right thing. 

It was validation that I was making a difference and that the hard work is worth it. It is a tough time for the industry, which is in a period of transition to renewable and sustainable ways of thinking, so to be recognised like this shows we are on the right track. It has motivated me to keep pushing.”

Breaking the glass ceiling

Eghosa was able to push past gender-based barriers to rise to the top of an industry that is predominantly dominated by men. She is passionate about gender equality and equity in Africa, from the grassroots up to executive positions. In a session with Africa Outlook, she said, 

“This is very close to my heart. I subscribe to the UN’s HeForShe campaign as we need men to open the doors and mentor us, women, to gain a seat at the table, until there are enough of us in the industry to support more women to advance to senior leadership and c-suite positions. I am grateful to be standing on the shoulders of the women who have paved the way before me. I also recognise the people who have believed in me and invested in me personally and professionally along the way and till this day. 

However, regardless of gender, you need to be a talented individual who can deliver on goals and drive value, and we must prove that.”

She gives her take on how women across Africa can attain success in their life’s pursuit.

“My advice would be to have fun. Love what you are doing. At the end of the day, delivering value is much easier when you are enjoying yourself. Value is also about people as well as results, so my advice is to create value and have fun while doing it.”


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