Patricia Guillory on overcoming challenges through persistence and faith

Meet Patricia Guillory, the Chief Financial Officer of Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corp.

Gulf Copper provides services for the repair, conversion and refurbishment of offshore drilling rigs, construction and support vessels for the oil and gas industry, and provides marine surveying service internationally. It offers a full spectrum of services with diverse capabilities from strategically well-placed facilities along the Gulf of Mexico. They also happen to be the newest member of the Pink Petro community. And we couldn’t be more thrilled!

Patricia took her position at the age of 29, during a turbulent time with the company.

At my interview the owner explained that he could not promise the company would be able to commit to even my job being around in the next six months, she recalls.

She made it through — with no small amount of persistence and faith. Here’s her story.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

PG: The biggest challenge I have faced was taking control of Gulf Copper at the young age of 29. It was at a point in the company’s history when the financial and administration arms faced many challenges.

At my interview, the owner explained that he could not promise the company would be able to commit to even my job being around in the next six months. Employees were anxious at best, and many had low morale. The question for me was where to start on the impressive list of challenges — especially having been the first controller of this 40-plus-year-old organization hired after the bleeding had gone on for some time.

I overcame it with lots of prayers and leaning heavily on my faith. It was through prayer that I developed relationships with those in operations and administration. I also developed relationships with external resources and mentors. I overcame the anxiety of the job, asked many questions, answered many questions and worked excessive hours engaging others, attending meetings and making commitments.

In the end, we overcame these terrific trials and built our way back.

What’s one mistake you made and how did you learn from it?

PG: The one mistake I’ve made on numerous occasions is departing from my center and my faith to make decisions that do not fully consider the impact on others. An example of this is when I moved all the accounting staff from an operations site to the administration offices where I was located. It seemed practical, except it had not been too long since the assets were acquired. I failed to appreciate the full extent of everyone’s anxiety.

What became clear later is that having the groups in close proximity was helpful to merge the distinct company operating cultures within the two groups. A few years ago, we merged the locations and the two groups. Within a few months, nearly all of us agreed that the camaraderie and productivity levels were elevated. Over the years my faith in God has helped me realize that when I fall, I can get back up.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

PG: The most rewarding part has been the mentorships developed (and still developing) with my team. Being able to share the experience with someone learning things they never believed they could master is rewarding.

Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you?

PG: My “gritty” role model is a business-savvy Harvard-educated gentleman who served on our audit committee for many years. He has seen us through some of our most turbulent times and has provided wisdom, knowledge and strength. And he is always pushing me to take hold of the next challenge without waiver. He has provided constructive critiques at the most important times and always wants the very best for me. I truly appreciate his contributions to my life and the growth in my career.

Lindsay Sander on Overcoming Challenges and the Power of Positive Partnerships

This week on Profiles in GRIT, we are featuring Lindsay Sander, one of the winners from the 2018 GRIT Awards on October 3rd. Lindsay is the Principal of Sander Resources, L.L.C. in Austin, TX.

Sander Resources is a consulting firm that helps its clients address developments in state and federal policies that impact their businesses, and implement programs to comply with them. Sander Resources uses innovation and information to influence policy, drive business, manage risk, and ensure compliance.

Lindsay is originally from Edina, Minnesota. Moving to Texas and entering this industry has had its share of challenges for her, but she’s loving every minute of it. Here’s more of Lindsay’s story:

Pink Petro: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

LS: Being underestimated, and there is nothing that I enjoy more. This occurs on a regular basis and has been the greatest challenge. It has likely benefitted me more than whatever specific challenge was facing our client or team. It has provided me with opportunities to demonstrate dedication, determination, hard work, problem-solving, and resolve. And it has resulted in great partnerships, wonderful friends, and a network of people who want to make a difference in moving issues and our industry forward. I truly hope people continue to underestimate me as it will only drive me to accomplish even greater things in the future.

Pink Petro: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

LS: We took on a client with a CEO who had an oversized ego for the purpose of accomplishing a VERY difficult assignment. Despite successfully delivering what the client requested (a miraculous accomplishment with potentially fantastic outcomes), the CEO was uncooperative, unappreciative, and, ultimately, disrespectful to our team. The company is my life and the people who work for me are family. I will never tolerate poor treatment of either. It was a good, but hard lesson to learn: I realized that we are not looking to work with just “any” client; we are looking to partner with clients with whom we can do our best work.

Pink Petro: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

LS: When clients are appreciative of the hard work and efforts of our team to accomplish their goals and make a difference.

Pink Petro: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?

LS:  I have been incredibly blessed to have a number of incredible people guide and mentor me. One of those is Alice Ratcliffe. She is a client who became a close friend. Alice pushes me to be a better person, take the higher road, and helps me navigate through some of the stickier issues – personally and professionally. Alice puts everything she has into what she does, loves her family, helps others and does it all with a smile on her face regardless of what has just happened in her world.

Dionne Auguste on Building a Personal Brand in a Foreign Land

This week on Profiles in GRIT, we meet Dionne Auguste. Dionne is the operations manager for NES Global Talent in Perth, Australia. NES is a workforce provider that provides staffing solutions across the Oil & Gas, Power, Infrastructure, Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Mining sectors globally. NES offers a diverse workforce and technical recruitment across major projects around the world. Dionne moved to Australia 6 years ago, she did not know anyone and moved without her friends and family, but through perseverance and grit, she overcame the challenges to build a successful career and a personal brand. She focused her efforts on networking and became involved in programs like a local lean in circle, Women in Oil and Gas Australia where she is a mentor. Today, she runs the lean in circles for her region and mentors other women and young professionals. It was a pleasure to honor Dionne at our 2nd annual GRIT Awards in October. And we’re excited to share more of her story with you.

Pink Petro: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

DA: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced both personally and professionally was moving from the UK to Australia. Not only was it a challenging personal transition, but I also had to learn the WA market, major projects and the technical aspects required for working in resources. When I made this move, I was about to turn 30. I was broke and trying to make a new life for myself away from my family and friends. The self-doubt I had during this time period was like nothing I had experienced before. I wanted to run away and go back home to my comfort zone. Fortunately, the thought of failing gave me the drive I needed to kickstart a new life and career. I knew I had to learn the market quickly so I began networking with professionals in the industry. I asked candidates and clients for their feedback and I looked after those who believed in me. In return, I was able to build a reputable personal brand in a competitive market.

What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

DA: One of the biggest mistakes I made was underestimating how hard the move would be. I moved without much planning. It was very stressful, but I did it. I believed in myself and I worked hard to achieve success. I also had support from sponsors and mentors who I still seek advice from today.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

DA: I love being a people manager and enjoy seeing success in others. One project that sticks out in my mind is the indigenous drive we did for a large LNG operator in Darwin. Their indigenous workforce was 0 and they wanted us to assist them in employing some indigenous candidates in their business. Darwin is a very remote location and it is difficult to source local candidates. However, we were able to provide a shortlist of 22 candidates of which 16 were from an indigenous background. The client put 12 of our candidates through their assessment day and employed 6, of which 3 were indigenous and 1 was female. This was an incredibly rewarding opportunity for me and NES Global Talent.

Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?

DA: Oprah Winfrey is one of my all-time role models. I come from a diverse background myself. My father was born in the Caribbean and my mother is from Scotland. So I can relate to some of the challenges Oprah has faced throughout her career. The strength which Oprah has shown to the world is phenomenal. She has touched the hearts of thousands of people and has not been afraid to bare her soul, emotions and imperfections. It has been inspiring to follow her career and what she has achieved.

Which community service activities/organizations have you been associated with and in what capacity?

  • DA:  Women in Oil and Gas Australia – This is a Lean In circle lead by Veena Mendaz who is a category manager for Chevron. I have been part of the membership since Veena founded the organization 5 years ago and I am now honored to be part of their mentoring program. I am currently mentoring a female project controls engineer.
  • Wirrapanda Foundation – This foundation is an indigenous non-profit organization. We work with the foundation to assist them in placing suitable candidates within the resources industry who have gone through their mentor program.
  • SCLAA – I have had a relationship with this organization for about 5 year. We regularly reach out to them when we are seeking young professionals within the supply chain industry who have completed their degrees and looking for their first full-time position in mining and oil and gas.
  • Leadership – I am the internal diversity rep for APAC at NES Global Talent and run our lean in circles across the region.
  • Pat Thomas Women’s Refuge – I regularly donate clothes, cosmetics and other items to this women’s refuge.
  • Women in Mining – I am currently a member of this organization and am in conversations with them to present at their sundowner later in the year.
  • Brightwater- I am a volunteer as part of their “Music Pharmacy Program” the program works with Dementia patients to engage them in music programs such as personal playlists, group sessions and harp playing.

Walking the walk: How Wood Mackenzie is driving industry change

Today, more companies are talking about the importance of inclusion.

But how many of them really walk the walk?

Pink Petro’s newest global member, Wood Mackenzie, does. And we are delighted to have them on board.

Woodmac, a Verisk company, is a research and consultancy business for the global energy, metals and mining, and chemicals industries.

“It’s not just about ensuring that the gender balance is equal, it’s about changing the culture. You’re not looking at gender, you’re looking at skills. And everybody benefits from that shift in culture.” 

Anthea Pitt, Director of Public Relations, Woodmac

She first learned about Pink Petro earlier this year when Amy Bowe, the director of upstream consulting at Woodmac, won a GRIT award in March. Prior to Amy’s nomination, neither of them were familiar with Pink Petro.

When Amy returned home from receiving her award in Houston, the two of them looked into Pink Petro further and felt that it was a fantastic organization for Woodmac to be a part of.

What led to this decision?

They loved the career development and mentoring work that Pink Petro does.

Anthea has worked in the industry as a journalist and communications adviser for the past 18 years and is fascinated by the energy sector. One of her big regrets is that she did not know that a career in geology was an option she could have pursued. “In the place I grew up, and at the time I grew up, women from my background weren’t encouraged to pursue further education, let alone a scientific career,” she says.

She is glad that there are fewer barriers these days for women to pursue careers in the energy industry.

The oil sector has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated industry that isn’t particularly friendly towards women.  But, there are women working quietly and effectively in the background (and it can definitely feel like that at times). 

In fact, Wood Mackenzie has a team of incredibly knowledgeable, sharp women who are involved in everything from exploration and production to gas and LNG, refining and chemicals and power and renewables, to mining and metals. They are clever, diligent women at the top of their game.

Anthea is proud that Woodmac takes inclusion and diversity seriously. In fact, of the 1,382 employees worldwide, 534 are female.

Yes, joining Pink Petro is just one of the ways that Woodmac is “walking the walk.” With strong support from their parent company, Verisk, they’ve also implemented a number of initiatives for women including:

  • Imposter syndrome workshops recognize that all women suffer from imposter syndrome to some degree.
  • Gender working groups look to ensure that the company is balanced in its workplace, policies, and procedures.
  • Women in senior leadership positions including  HR, marketing, cross-research, and consulting roles within their teams and specialties.

Woodmac also emphasizes physical and mental health and well-being as a priority for all of its employees. And they promote gender balance. Within the workplace, at Woodmac there is an active awareness that you need a balance between work and your home life.

Woodmac recognizes women are no longer the exception. And that the company is actively working to be a part of that change in the industry. So, as Anthea and Amy dug deeper into discovering what Pink Petro was all about, membership seemed like a natural fit.

Anthea approached senior leadership at Woodmac to say, “this would be good for all the women working at the company, and particularly the younger women to help them ground themselves within the industry.” 

Woodmac agreed.

Through Pink Petro and Experience Energy, Woodmac employees can learn from women who have had to fight to get where they are and gain better knowledge and understanding of it.

INTECSEA President Geeta Thakorlal on the meaning of GRIT

When we first approached Geeta Thakorlal about speaking at the Experience Energy GRIT Awards in October, she was instantly drawn to the concept. After all, she’s always believed it takes grit and resilience to be successful in business and in life.

Then we told Geeta that GRIT was an acronym forgrowth, resilience, innovation and transition.

“How clever!” she said. “It encompasses all the elements that one needs for the future of energy and the future of women in industry.”

As the president of INTECSEA, a leading offshore engineering consultancy, and managing director of the company’s Global Front End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group, as part of the WorleyParsons Group, Geeta has certainly demonstrated GRIT throughout her career.

Working on the world’s deadliest offshore rig accident

Geeta’s introduction to the offshore sector came in 1988 after the Piper Alpha accident in the North Sea, which unfortunately took the lives of 167 people. Geeta was part of a UK team that provided expert advice on the incident.

Geeta found that she had a great interest in this area and continued to work in offshore upstream. After her experience in the UK, she was offered a position closer to home in Australia with Worley Parsons. She worked with the company for three years and then spent the next 15 years working in front-end consulting and engineering for another firm.

During this time, she gained a wide range of experience and was promoted from department manager to operations manager and then regional director. As she progressed in her career, Geeta gained a wealth of understanding about global hydrocarbons markets, strategy development and implementation, client relationship management, operations management and leading culturally diverse teams.

In 2011, Geeta returned to WorleyParsons to lead specialist technical consulting teams in Australia and Southeast Asia. This leadership role expanded, and Geeta was promoted to senior vice president for INTECSEA in New Zealand and Australia. She became the president of INTECSEA in 2016 and now oversees all global operations from her Houston office. She has recently been appointed to lead WorleyParsons Global Front-End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group.

Innovation and transition in the energy industry

As a leader in the industry, Geeta is excited about the innovation and transition that she sees across many different fronts.

“It’s happening much faster than I expected,” she said. “Especially in the fossil fuel industry where companies are working to find a balance between meeting the changing needs of the world and achieving sustainability.”

One new aspect that is appearing in everything we do centers around the impact that digital technology is having on the industry. And while the energy sector may not be advancing as rapidly as other industries, Geeta believes it is important to progress with technology, yet balance this progress and new thinking with experience and knowledge management.

“We need to focus on how to adapt to the future and determine what skill sets the industry needs, as well as how the industry handles cultural differences, inclusion and diversity,” she said.

Be curious, and be yourself

Geeta’s advice to others in the industry is to always to approach what you do with a sense of curiosity.

“Learn to ask questions and stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you will make mistakes. But you can ask for help,” she says.

Other aspects include being your authentic self. “Don’t try to be someone else”, she said. “People always have a way of discovering an individual’s true colors.  You want your brand to accelerate you, rather than the lack thereof being a hindrance.”

This curiosity and GRIT have gotten Geeta far. Working in an industry with a large opportunity for diversity has not slowed her down. While some companies are more progressive than others, Geeta believes now is a good time for women to be involved, grow and make their mark in the energy industry.

Women have come a long way in the industry,” she said. “While it doesn’t always seem like there are that many working in the energy sector, the number of women is increasing gradually.”

As a leader in international oil and gas, Geeta has seen more open dialogue and attention to women — not just in the U.S., but also in Europe, India and the Middle East. Social media has allowed people on a global scale to connect, access information and share ideas for progression. And all that has made Geeta excited to be a part of the industry right now — both as a leader and as an individual.

Geeta Thakorlal on the meaning of GRIT

When we first approached Geeta Thakorlal about speaking at the Experience Energy GRIT Awards in October, she was instantly drawn to the concept. After all, she’s always believed it takes grit and resilience to be successful in business and in life.

Then we told Geeta that GRIT was an acronym for growth, resilience, innovation and transition.

“How clever!” she said. “It encompasses all the elements that one needs for the future of energy and the future of women in industry.”

As the president of INTECSEA, a leading offshore engineering consultancy, and managing director of the company’s Global Front End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group, as part of the WorleyParsons Group, Geeta has certainly demonstrated GRIT throughout her career.

Working on the world’s deadliest offshore rig accident

Geeta’s introduction to the offshore sector came in 1988 after the Piper Alpha accident in the North Sea, which unfortunately took the lives of 167 people. Geeta was part of a UK team that provided expert advice on the incident.

Geeta found that she had a great interest in this area and continued to work in offshore upstream. After her experience in the UK, she was offered a position closer to home in Australia with Worley Parsons. She worked with the company for three years and then spent the next 15 years working in front-end consulting and engineering for another firm.

During this time, she gained a wide range of experience and was promoted from department manager to operations manager and then regional director. As she progressed in her career, Geeta gained a wealth of understanding about global hydrocarbons markets, strategy development and implementation, client relationship management, operations management and leading culturally diverse teams.

In 2011, Geeta returned to WorleyParsons to lead specialist technical consulting teams in Australia and Southeast Asia. This leadership role expanded, and Geeta was promoted to senior vice president for INTECSEA in New Zealand and Australia. She became the president of INTECSEA in 2016 and now oversees all global operations from her Houston office. She has recently been appointed to lead WorleyParsons Global Front-End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group.

Innovation and transition in the energy industry

As a leader in the industry, Geeta is excited about the innovation and transition that she sees across many different fronts.

“It’s happening much faster than I expected,” she said. “Especially in the fossil fuel industry where companies are working to find a balance between meeting the changing needs of the world and achieving sustainability.”

One new aspect that is appearing in everything we do centers around the impact that digital technology is having on the industry. And while the energy sector may not be advancing as rapidly as other industries, Geeta believes it is important to progress with technology, yet balance this progress and new thinking with experience and knowledge management.

“We need to focus on how to adapt to the future and determine what skill sets the industry needs, as well as how the industry handles cultural differences, inclusion and diversity,” she said.

Be curious, and be yourself

Geeta’s advice to others in the industry is to always to approach what you do with a sense of curiosity.

“Learn to ask questions and stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you will make mistakes. But you can ask for help,” she says.

Other aspects include being your authentic self. “Don’t try to be someone else”, she said. “People always have a way of discovering an individual’s true colors.  You want your brand to accelerate you, rather than the lack thereof being a hindrance.”

This curiosity and GRIT have gotten Geeta far. Working in an industry with a large opportunity for diversity has not slowed her down. While some companies are more progressive than others, Geeta believes now is a good time for women to be involved, grow and make their mark in the energy industry.

Women have come a long way in the industry,” she said. “While it doesn’t always seem like there are that many working in the energy sector, the number of women is increasing gradually.”

Geeta Thakorlal, President Intecsea and Keynote Speaker, The GRIT Awards

As a leader in international oil and gas, Geeta has seen more open dialogue and attention to women — not just in the U.S., but also in Europe, India and the Middle East. Social media has allowed people on a global scale to connect, access information and share ideas for progression.

And all that has made Geeta excited to be a part of the industry right now — both as a leader and as an individual.

Jerri Babin on challenging the status quo, exceeding expectations and the start to a lifelong friendship

This week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we’re introducing you to Jerri Babin, the vice president of reliability and sales operational strategy for National Oilwell Varco (NOV).

NOV is the largest global manufacturer of oilfield equipment. It builds, repairs and services equipment for every segment of the upstream supply chain.  Jerri’s division focuses primarily on the land and offshore drilling equipment.

In our conversation, we spoke with Jerri, who was honored with a GRIT Award back in March, about having “the right people on the bus,” setting clear expectations and being willing to challenge the status quo.

PINK PETRO: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

JERRI BABIN: I was sitting in a leadership meeting discussing areas in need of improvement in our division. Four of the five areas were in sales support. At that time, I was in a project management role, but I knew this was the job I wanted. After convincing my new boss (and myself) that I could change “sales prevention” into sales support, I took on the challenge.

My kickoff leadership meeting got off to a rough start. Most of the team was new to NOV and had no idea what I had in mind.  However, we established our goals and set to work immediately. With survey facts in hand, we reworked the organization to fit a dynamically growing environment.  My managers rocked it!

A mere 10 months later, we had another leadership meeting. This time NOV’s president was in attendance.  I counted more than 10 compliments to our new team.  We had overcome “sales prevention” and were recognized as the team behind the success of our climbing sales backlog.

Having the right people on the bus — and setting clear expectations — changed the course of our department. Plus, it created awesome career opportunities for each of my leaders.  Not being afraid to challenge status quo enabled our team to succeed.

PP: What’s one mistake you made, and what did you learn from it?

JB: I have made many mistakes, but the one that comes to mind is when I took a job even when my “gut” feeling was to pass it up. I wanted to diversify my experiences at NOV. So I accepted a position in another business unit and set about “changing” the inside sales department.

The group consisted of several acquired businesses, grouped together with no common goals or mission. I learned a lot about change management — what worked and didn’t work — and how to adjust. I made hard personnel changes and increased my network within NOV and the industry.

I wanted to be a project manager, but it didn’t seem possible at that time. So, I decided to try for the project manager position again after making this change. And it worked. Changing business units was risky, but I do not regret any time spent in that position. I realized that I was good at changing environments and could make a positive impact with hard work and great people.

PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

JB: The most rewarding part of my career was creating a startup business in the Middle East.  I entered this role in 1996. I was not sure about being a female change agent in this part of the world.  And the dangerous images of the Gulf War were fresh in my mind.

However, it was a blast! I can honestly say that I believe I am now equipped to meet any challenge. We exceeded all sales expectations right out of the gate, and I made lifelong friends in almost every country. Just getting it done was a journey.

I worked with the local team in Jebel Ali while living in Houston. Every day had something interesting in store for me. My children even got involved in daily conference calls from my car. So, they got a firsthand experience of the international economy. This facility is now the hub of our operations, and I know that I had an influence on its success.

Pink Petro: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?

JB: I have a friend, Lenore Gordon, who is absolutely my gritty role model. She was the first female I ever met who actually “worked” on a rig. I had always thought I was a pioneer until I met her. She worked right alongside the service techs and engineers to design and repair jacking systems in India, Singapore, Oman and many other countries. She even managed to break her ankle while working on a jack up in Oman.

For our first meeting, she brought an ancient parts manual and wanted me to help her source parts. I have no idea where she found that manual, much less where I was going to find the parts. From that meeting on, we formed a lifelong friendship. And I thank her for paving the way for all females in non-traditional roles in our industry.

Profiles in GRIT: Amy Bowe on believing in yourself, the value of collaboration and pursuing passionate work

Next in our series, Profiles in GRIT, we would like you to meet Amy Bowe, a director at Wood Mackenzie, Ltd., a research and consultancy business for the energy, chemicals and extractive industries.

Amy, who received a GRIT Awards at our inaugural ceremony back in March, serves on Wood Mackenzie’s consulting team, working with clients to deliver bespoke solutions to their strategic challenges. Over the past two years, Amy has spearheaded an initiative to develop a new offering that will help the oil and gas industry transition to a lower carbon futureby providing standardized, forward-looking, asset-level data on carbon risk exposure.

One of the most important lessons she’s learned throughout her career is the importance of gathering insight from multiple stakeholders to come to the best solution, no matter what the challenge at hand.

“Collective action is necessary to bring about the required change.  One or a few cannot dictate the solution for all,” she says.

Read more from our conversation with Amy below. (Know someone like Amy? Nominate them for a GRIT Award! Nominations close July 20!)

PINK PETRO: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

AMY BOWE: Like many women with whom I’ve spoken to, I struggle with self-confidence. There are days when I feel like I could conquer the world and other days where I question why anyone would listen to me. These self-doubts are strongest when faced with new challenges.  I often feel inadequate to the task and can’t imagine how I will ever achieve what is expected of me — even in cases when I have set those expectations myself.

Yet I somehow always manage to achieve what initially seemed unachievable.  Cumulatively, these experiences have helped to grow my confidence.  Now, each time that doubt creeps in or I feel inadequate to take on a task, I think back on these previous experiences and tell myself that, just as I overcame those doubts to accomplish my goal, I will do the same this time.

I also remind myself, what is the worst that could happen even if I do fail? One day I very well might. Quite often our fears are greater than the actual consequences. Both these tactics have helped build my self-confidence. Still, overcoming my insecurities is an ongoing challenge that requires constant reinforcement and diligence.  Maybe one day I will overcome them for good!

PP: What’s one mistake you made, and what did you learn from it?  

AB: I have made many mistakes over the course of my career.  Some have been more instructive than others. One mistake I made was on one of the first large consulting projects I ever managed. Wanting to prove my competence to the project director and earn his trust, I took on responsibility that would normally fall to him—including key decisions regarding analytical methodology, scope execution and presentation of results.

He was traveling quite a bit at the time, which made it easier for me to take the lead in his absence.  I tried to keep him in the loop regarding these decisions through emails and team communications, but I never specifically sought his input or guidance. The result was that, when I sent him the final presentation for review, he had very different ideas about the approach the team should have taken and what we were presenting.

We ended up reworking the final analysis together, as a team. The result was a better product.  However, if I had made a concerted effort to seek his input earlier in the process, we could have avoided the stress of reworking the material at the last minute.

If I’d involved him in the decision-making from the beginning, it’s possible we might have taken a fundamentally different approach altogether.  Alternatively, it’s possible that he might have felt more comfortable with the approach the rest of the team and I devised if he’d been part of the discussion.

I have therefore learned that, even if I could do something all myself, it’s important to seek input from all stakeholders — particularly senior stakeholders, but also peers and junior members of the team — to ensure that everyone is bought into the process and that the ultimate product or decision is as strong as possible.

PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?  

AB: The past two years’ effort to develop and promote the upstream oil and gas carbon benchmarking study was rewarding. Also, my time in industry working to develop Hess’ corporate climate change strategy (which served as the inspiration for the carbon benchmarking study) has also been an extremely rewarding part of my career.

In both cases, I was doing work that I felt passionate about and that could proactively help the company, if not the wider industry, move forward and address future challenges.

PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?  

AB: Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She is largely credited with laying the foundation for the global climate change agreement that was reached in Paris in 2015.

She stepped into the role in 2010, after a highly anticipated attempt to reach a global climate agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen ended in disappointment. Over the next six years, Figueres worked to re-establish trust and collaboration among UNFCCC member states, while building needed financial support within the private sector. One of the primary reasons for her success was that she abandoned previous top-down solutions for a bottom-up approach.

Though she provided the leadership necessary to build support for this approach, inherent in the strategy is the recognition that collective action is necessary to bring about the required change. One or a few cannot dictate the solution for all. I have tried to remember these lessons in my own efforts to bring transparency to oil and gas sector emissions risk.