Mary Johnson

HERWorld18: KPMG's Emma Wild on the exciting uncertainty of energy

Blog Post created by Mary Johnson on Feb 21, 2018

Emma Wild cartoon

Emma Wild is head of the Upstream Advisory Practice at KPMG in the UK, and she embraces uncertainty. That’s what first drew her to the oil and gas industry. It’s what sustained her after a move to Houston early in her career. And she believes our collective response to uncertainty will determine the future of O&G.


Emma will speak at HERWorld Energy Forum in Houston on March 8 (Get your tickets here!). Until then, read our interview below to learn a little bit more about this woman making some serious waves in energy.


Q: Tell us about your first job in energy. How did you get interested in this sector?
I began my career as a graduate reservoir engineer at Santos in Australia.  I had a degree in Chemical Engineering but was more attracted to subsurface O&G because of the need to deal in uncertainty. You can’t see, touch or measure the reservoir; you can only estimate how big it could be.


Q: Tell me about your role now? How has your career brought you to this position?  

I lead upstream O&G for KPMG in the UK. Working in an accounting firm is a strange place for an engineer to end up! I built a range of technical and then commercial experience in various locations around the world to get here.


Q: Our theme for HERWorld — and really for 2018 as a whole — is about GRIT: growth, resilience, innovation and transition. What does GRIT mean for you?

GRIT is about building the energy company of the future. I think all four themes are important and, in many ways, interrelated. But I would say that innovation and transition are absolutely key to be successful in our rapidly changing world.


Q: What excites you about energy now? And what are the biggest challenges the industry is facing, in your view?

That every norm is being challenged, and the impact of energy transition on the oil and gas industry. Attracting and retaining talent when we are competing with more “trendy” places to work such as tech startups. The O&G industry needs an image makeover!


Q: What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

 Lead and develop your team so that ultimately they don’t need you anymore.


Q: What’s been the biggest personal challenge you’ve faced in your career?

Moving to Houston as a young engineer expat not knowing a single person. I was quite naïve and gravely underestimated how difficult it would be.  But I made a success out of it and now describe my time there as one of the best experiences of my life!


Q: What are your thoughts on the state of women in energy in 2018? What excites you about our progress, and what continues to hold women back?

I am pleased that gender diversity is now a top priority for the CEO in many organizations, but so much more needs to be done to eradicate unconscious bias in middle management.


Q: Tell us something about who you are outside your career. Any driving passions that define you?

 I love to cook and am happiest when entertaining friends over good food and wine. And I love to travel. My husband and I are heading to the Philippines at end of March.