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.