Energy Forward: Unlocking the Potential of Gas

Lorenzo Simonelli of BH talks about the future of energy at Gastech, on Experience Energy

Lorenzo Simonelli on being at the forefront of change

Last week during his keynote address, audience members heard BH Chairman & CEO, Lorenzo Simonelli, reflect on the progress the energy industry has made – how it has “evolved” – during its relatively short history.

“It’s amazing to think where we came from and how far we’ve come,” he said, pointing to the shale revolution and the rise of renewables, and later making reference to the “digital revolution that has transformed everything we touch.”

He believes that evolution carries over into everything the industry does.

“We’re at a critical juncture and it is necessary to be the driver of the right kind of change.”

Toward that end, he says the energy industry must reevaluate and come up with cutting edge, innovative solutions.

As the industry moves forward, Simonelli says gas will surpass oil, paving the way as a transitional fuel. Renewables are on the rise and the cost is decreasing significantly. The goal is net zero emissions by 2050.

“We believe that investing in low carbon tech is paramount to achieving these goals,” he said. He also feels gas is uniquely positioned in the energy mix. “Global gas energy has the opportunity to play a leading role in the energy transition,” using technology and digitization.

“It is our responsibility to embrace change, even disruptive change.”

To realize growth and make sure gas remains relevant, Simonelli stresses industry must continue partnering to make energy work harder and waste less through the power of digital. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will allow industry to use data across all disciplines – the full value chain – resulting in safer operations and maximized efficiencies.

“We are uniquely positioned to drive these innovations at the edge because we are already there [in operations] and in the field.”

Simonelli acknowledges that industry understands how difficult it is to enact rapid change in a global environment, but collaboration and shared solutions, already being put into action, will move change forward. While there is always more to do, he says industry is seeing the commitments.

“[BH] is committed to our role and contribution. We have learned to be open to new options and models. No transformation is complete without a focus on the people who drive it. [We must] learn from them and keep them engaged.”

Simonelli believes there is no time to spare. Change is not coming; change is here.

“[This is a] unique window in history and the gas industry must act quickly to maximize the opportunity [as well as] partner and support the next generation of energy.”

“It’s better to be at the forefront – the energy industry knows this.”

Lorenzo Simonelli of BH talks about the future of energy at Gastech, on Experience Energy

About Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes is the world’s first and only full stream provider of integrated oilfield products, services, and digital solutions. Drawing on a storied heritage of invention, BH harnesses the passion and experience of its people to enhance productivity across the oil and gas value chain. BH helps its customers acquire, transport and refine hydrocarbons more efficiently, productively and safely, with a smaller environmental footprint and at lower cost per barrel. BH deploys people, machines and the cloud to break down silos and reduce waste and risk, applying breakthroughs to advance efficiencies for our customers. The company has operations in over 120 countries.


Kara Byrne on chalking up wins and discovering true passions

Kara Byrne GRIT Award winner profile on Experience Energy

Introducing Kara Byrne

Kara Byrne is Americas Commercial Leader for Control Valves at Baker Hughes, a GE Company (BHGE), one of the biggest oilfield service companies in the world and she’s got GRIT.

Kara has spent more than a decade living and working in Houston, but she hails from Wisconsin. She earned a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she developed her talent for fundraising in her home state where she began volunteering for United Way, Junior Achievement, and Habitat for Humanity.

Since her move to Houston, she has remained very busy – and not just at BHGE, serving for the last 13 years as a commercial manager, setting up teams to bid for major equipment contracts. She’s also an active member of the Houston chapter of the Women’s Energy Network (WEN) and began serving as the chapter’s President in 2018.

Unmatched tenacity

Kara’s track record at BHGE is replete with evidence of her grit and determination. She told us that her achievements owed much to her skills in team-building.

“I have been a very successful project manager of indirect reports, securing strategic projects for the past 12 years with a very high win rate in a very tough market,” she said. “Customers, colleagues, and BHGE leadership can depend on me to tackle a difficult project with tenacity and put together a team to win a project and deliver results – inclusive of securing many firsts for the company, such as many mega LNG contracts and other projects in a very risk-averse market.”

She also stressed, though, that her successes could not be measured in major contract awards alone. “My toughest challenge has been getting out of my comfort zone, moving past the self-imposed barriers of being an extremely successful individual contributor for my company and becoming an inspirational people leader,” she said. But she found a powerful reason to confront that challenge after suffering a personal setback: the destruction of her home in Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Changing focus

Kara says that rebuilding her home after Harvey helped her realize that she was ready to change her focus. “I found it difficult to stay motivated by individual project successes. That, coupled with the personal setback – I realized I was stuck in my professional growth. I had to look deep within myself to understand what my passion was and was shocked when it wasn’t the winning of highly visible projects, nor the individual recognition,” she said.

Instead, she realized that she wanted to cultivate more human connections. “My passion is truly helping and motivating others to live up to their full potential,” she said. Kara found a way to translate that insight into action through her involvement in WEN, especially after she became the president of the organization’s Houston chapter in 2018.

“The 2018 board was very new, so [we] had an uphill challenge of learning our brand, our vision, our mission, and our sponsors’ needs. However, in the first half of 2018, I was able to bring the board quickly together as a team, and we were able to sell out of all the first five months of WEN Houston events, engage three times as many partners, and re-invigorate the executive events to have all time attendance records,” she said. “Seeing the growth of each individual on the WEN Houston board brought me immense pride in their achievements and provided each board member with such confidence that I knew I had to continue to help others to achieve similar success.”

Kara starts a new chapter

These achievements helped Kara start a new chapter in her career at BHGE. “After three years of knowing I had to make a change and give up some of the prestige and high visibility of my current role, I was able not only to identify my passion but also push through a very difficult personal setback with being displaced from our house while rebuilding from Harvey,” she stated.

“I am now in the process of transitioning from an individual contributor to a people leader role within BHGE and will put my tenacity into helping others achieve the level of personal and career success [that] others have helped me to realize.”

That’s a true display of GRIT that Kara Byrne will no doubt carry into every chapter of her energy story.  

Kara Byrne GRIT Award winner on Experience Energy

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Steel-toe Boots and Transparency

Baker Hughes, a GE Company, (BHGE) has more than 64,000 employees worldwide. Alaina Sajatovic Nelson is one of them. She is a staff technical product manager and a recent recipient of a GRIT Award.

“When I first stepped into this job, I wasn’t sure I was ready. I soon discovered steel-toe boots are very useful when you need to jump in feet-first.”

Alaina Sajatovic Nelson, BHGE

Alaina Sajatovic Nelson , BHGE

Alaina says most digital products have a technical and a functional owner. That means, she usually has to wear both hats.  “I was challenged to make both technical decisions and decisions about what features the applications should have, and how they should work.”

She didn’t think she had the experience to make these decisions. So, she was always nervous she would make wrong choices.

Overcoming challenges

In Alaina’s case, she bought a pair of steel-toe boots and jumped into the manufacturing world feet first. She partnered with experts, visited factories, shadowed and interviewed operators.

“Growing my manufacturing expertise and confidence led to better relationships with my users and the development of a digital tool that really meets their needs.”

BHGE is the world’s first and only full stream provider of integrated oilfield products, services and digital solutions.  It helps customers around the globe safely maximize productivity across the oil and gas value chain and the lifetime of their assets, while minimizing environmental impacts.

Early in the development of the application, Alaina struggled with communicating with the stakeholders. For instance, she shared the date for a major release, but development took longer than planned. When her team missed the date, the stakeholders were frustrated. She says it was a major hit to the application’s credibility.

Learning transparency

In software engineering, it is quite common for things to take longer than planned. After Alaina’s communication glitch, her motto became “100% transparency” with all future releases.

“I used the biweekly steering committee to walk stakeholders through the work that had been completed, what was left to do, and any risks that I saw.”

Glitches lead to rewards

Alaina loves hearing about how the application she manages truly changes the way users work. Her tool helps operators handle safety concerns quicker and get them escalated to leadership faster. Plus, she appreciates the genuine feedback she now receives from operators.

“I believe they’ve come to see me as one of their own rather than an IT person from headquarters.”