Sidonie Moundi Elimbi is a project manager for Actemium Cameroon’s largest maintenance contract. We look at the unusual track record of a determined woman who has seized opportunities as they have presented themselves.
“Communication, energy, education”. These three words sum up Sidonie Moundi Elimbi‘s vision of the qualities needed to perform her job, qualities she has scrupulously sought to develop since the start of her career. If today, at 42, this Actemium Cameroon project manager is handling the maintenance contract for oil company Perenco, VINCI Energies’ biggest client in the country, it’s due to an impeccable and somewhat unusual track record.
“Having loved chemistry and natural sciences at school, I looked for a profession that aligned with this passion,” she explains. “Friends of mine who were working in the oil sector convinced me to focus on the petrochemicals industry.”
Following a master of science in biochemistry in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, Sidonie Moundi Elimbi went on to complete a master’s degree in HSEQ (health, safety, environment and quality) geared towards the oil sector. “This gave me the opportunity to combine an activity that interested me with my wish to protect people by raising awareness about safety issues,“ she adds.
Importance of a mentor
After carrying out internships at a shipyard then at oil drilling sites, Sidonie Moundi Elimbi was offered a job as HSEQ support at AMT Necotrans, a logistics company specialising in the oil sector.
“I was a bit nervous at the beginning,” she remembers. “Being in a very male-dominated environment which did not necessarily consider HSEQ a priority seemed hard to manage. But by building relationships and focusing on communication, I quickly gained people’s trust with practical and fun messages and tools.”
This meant that when she joined Actemium Cameroon in 2016 after applying for the role of HSEQ coordinator for the Limbe refinery extension project in south-west Cameroon, she had little difficulty, backed by a team of six, in developing a safety culture among the facility’s 100 or so employees.
“My management position gives me a more strategic view of the Group’s operations”
Having spent a year on a new project (the construction of Onomo hotel in Douala), Actemium Cameroon’s management decided, based on her “experience” and “strength of character”, to push her to the next level.
“In 2019, I was offered the role of junior project manager for the Perenco contract. I must say that I was a little concerned about taking on such responsibility! But I was fortunate to have had as my mentor the incumbent project manager Alain Zeh Messi (known as father Alain), someone with a great deal of experience and highly respected.”
It quickly turned into a trial by fire, with the Covid 19 pandemic upsetting plans. “It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot about my new role and about myself, my ability to be a manager.”
A close relationship with teams
Sidonie Moundi Elimbi has been managing the Perenco contract on her own since December 2020 and the departure of her mentor. “As the manager of 253 people, 251 of whom are men, I’m supervising teams and making sure that services are being delivered properly, completion times are being met and of course that safety instructions are being complied with and the environment protected,” she explains proudly. In this management role, she prioritises a close relationship with her teams. She is convinced that it’s by “listening to people and really knowing them that you can get messages and instructions across more easily.”
Today, she is happy to hold this management position which gives her a “more strategic view of VINCI Energies operations, with bigger and more ambitious targets. It’s exciting!” she says.
For her next step, Sidonie Moundi Elimbi intends to build further on the support given by VINCI Energies, its training programmes and its performance management tools. For this keen walker, the path is, she hopes, full of new surprises. “I want to carry on motivating my teams to go further and why not, in time, become a business unit manager, still in the maintenance sector.”