In honour of International Women’s Day, we chatted with PETRONAS employee, Jennyfer Kuanji.  Jennyfer, has worked in the Oil and Gas Industry for more than 25years, with a current position of Principal Process Technology – Production. She has witnessed many changes in the industry throughout this time, from diversity and inclusivity to technological advancements. We chat about these things, and what the future of the industry looks like, from an insider’s perspective.


A Career Path in Oil and Gas Jennyfer Kuanji, Principal Process Technology – Production, PETRONAS shares her journey in oil and gas as a woman

Jennyfer has held varied roles in the industry, thanks to her chemical engineering background. She was one of the first female retail executives for one of the local players in the downstream retail business, a position that had her constantly travelling, meeting with male dominated retailers. After nearly three years with the retail business, Jennyfer joined the upstream oil and gas businesses, where her career progressed, and she advanced into a new position every few years both locally and internationally.  She eventually opted to join PETRONAS for a role with limited work movement, in the Process Technology – Production team. Here she is a ‘jack of all trades’, understanding how all the plant equipment works together as a system. Her day-to-day position has her supporting operations to troubleshoot process issues, leading the incident investigation team to determine the root causes of safety incidents, to researching and implementing technology to deliver solutions to production pain points. 


Pioneering AI AdoptionJennyfer Kuanji, PETRONAS and Juarez Lowe, VROC

Jennyfer’s current role, which she has held for nearly ten years, has her frequently working with service providers, researching technology which can make things easier for site engineers. When asked about how digital innovation, in particular time-series data and artificial intelligence are impacting operations, she remarked ‘I normally stay away from anything related to such a topic… However, I realised that I can’t stay away forever, so I decided to take it up and force myself to learn the subject.’,  ‘Having worked as a site engineer before, we used the basic means to carry out our performance monitoring role, but with AI, a lot of work got easier because its like someone else is on the look-out for you. To be able to tell you in advance what could go wrong is akin to a crystal ball except its prediction is based on real data.


Jennyfer shared that after much deliberation and discussion she was convinced that AI could enable their engineers to work more efficiently.  She is now a major supporter of the operationalization of AI, becoming an advocator within the business and broader industry.  Jennyfer commented ‘AI is here to stay, and we can’t run away from it. If all things fail, then think of Lazada or Shoppee app as the analogy, over time it learnt your pattern of purchases, and soon able to provide excellent suggestions that enabled you to make countless purchases in a very short time!’ 


Winds of Change

Jennyfer has remarked how for the most part in her career, she has always been greeted by kind, supportive and helpful colleagues. And whilst over the 25 years there were a few unpleasant experiences, most were related to cultural differences rather than gender.  In-fact reflecting on the evolution of the industry's perception of women, Jennyfer acknowledges a remarkable shift. "Kudos to those who took Diversity and Inclusivity to heart, and consciously ensured equal gender presence," she remarks, noting the increasing presence of women in leadership positions. However, she also acknowledges lingering vestiges of the "boys club mentality" among some older cohorts, which she is confident will pass with the next generation.


Shaping the Future

To aspiring women eyeing the oil and gas industry, her message is unequivocal: "Go for it." She encourages them to shatter preconceived notions, embrace their capabilities, and seize the myriad of opportunities that await. Be that in a research lab, as a ‘data geek’ or in the emerging roles of sustainability and climate change. As for AI, Jennyfer sees it as not a gender-specific opportunity, but as a realm open to all who dare to venture into its depths. 

Jennyfer encourages women to always support each other when at the top, to do away with peer competition, choosing instead to be steadfast in your support of colleagues.


Conclusion: Fostering a Culture of Confidence and Collaboration

In her more than 25 years of experience, Jennyfer Kuanji has witnessed the industry undergo significant transformations, from breaking down barriers of gender bias to embracing the dawn of technological innovation. From her pioneering days as one of the first female retail executives to her current role as a champion of AI adoption, Jennyfer's trajectory exemplifies the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to dream and persist.

Her message to aspiring women is simple yet profound: believe in yourself, support one another, and together, we can create a world where women can thrive and succeed. As we commemorate International Women's Day, her journey serves as a beacon of encouragement and unity for women around the world.


With thanks to Jennyfer Kuanji, a valued VROC customer, for her contribution to this article. 


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