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 future by 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.
EXPERIENCE ENERGY: 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!
EE: 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 the 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.
EE: 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.
EE: 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 the oil and gas sector emissions risk.