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All Places > News & Field Trips > Blog > 2018 > June > 05

KPMG Global Energy ConferenceThis week, Pink Petro is heading to KPMG’s Global Energy Conference in Houston.


KPMG is of course one of our valued sponsors, but they also put on one incredible conference.


We’ve already told you a bit about what you can expect from one of two powerhouse keynote speakers. Soledad O’Brien, the award-winning journalist turned entrepreneur, will be speaking on Wednesday at 1 p.m., in an address titled “The Next Big News Story.” (You can read more about Soledad and her thoughts on diversity here.)


On Thursday, June 7, George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, will deliver the second keynote address at 12:45 p.m.


We've outlined some other highlights below. Can't attend in person? You can watch online via livestream at this link. So tune in, no matter where you might be!


  • KPMG will kick off the event with the Women in Energy Executive Breakfast, which will delve into using the #MeToo era as a catalyst for creating a safer workplace environment. Angie Gildea, principal and Americas oil and gas co-leader for the KPMG in the U.S., will moderate the panel discussion, which will feature leaders from Catalyst, Schlumberger Limited and Vinson & Elkins LLP. — 7 a.m. on June 6


  • Regina Mayor, global sector head and the U.S. national sector leader of energy and natural resources at KPMG, will lead the next panel discussion focused on energy’s role in the global economy. Joining her on the panel is Constance Hunter, KPMG’s chief economist. — 9:20 a.m. on June 6


  • Vicky Parker, a strategy partner for KPMG in the U.K., will lead a discussion on the energy transition, talking about how fossil fuel companies transform in the “peak demand” scenario. Panelists include Elizabeth Killinger, EVP and president of NRG Retail, and Anne McEntee, CEO of Renewable Energy Services for GE Renewable Energy. — 2:15 p.m. on June 6


  • Lynne Lancaster, generational expert and co-founder of BridgeWorks, will talk about solving the multigenerational workforce puzzle. — 3:45 p.m. on June 6


  • Cassandra Hogan, national sector leader for power and utilities for KPMG Australia, will lead a conversation about the digital transformation — specifically, how the next generation digital revolution will reshape the energy industry. — 11 a.m. on June 7


We’ll be there, enjoying as much as we can and sharing our experiences on social media. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Sara OrtweinThis week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we introduce you to Sara Ortwein. Sara is the president of XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. XTO is a leading oil and natural gas producer in North America with expertise in developing tight gas, shale gas and unconventional oil resources. The company manages 11 million acres with total resources of about 139 trillion cubic feet.


In addition to her role as president at XTO, Sara is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. She is on the board of directors for the National Cowgirl Museum and is an active alum of the University of Texas.


We recognized Sara at our first-ever GRIT awards, and now we are pleased to share more of her story with you. (Know someone like Sara? Nominations are now open for our second class of GRIT Award winners. Submit one today!)


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

SO: One of my greatest challenges is recognizing that, at the end of the day, the buck stops here. Part of my job is knowing when to move beyond discussion to make the difficult decisions. 


As a leader, you learn you are not going to make everyone happy. So, you must focus on what is best for the organization. I’ve learned to manage the delicate balance of creating an open, collaborative team environment, taking feedback and pulling everything together to set a direction for the organization.  Then, I work with the organization to drive the commitment to deliver results and alignment.


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

SO: In my first supervisor role with ExxonMobil, I was managing a team of people who had far more experience than I did.  I spent most of my first year in that role struggling to figure out how I could add value. But then I came to realize that it wasn’t my job to know more than the people around me — it was my job to enable them to apply their strengths to whatever challenges and opportunities we faced. Now, as president, I know I’m not here to have all the answers. I’m here to find and develop the right people and allow them to use their capabilities to move us forward.


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

SO:  I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to work with some of the most talented and brightest people in the industry. What’s most rewarding for me as a leader is seeing those people strive for greatness and providing them the resources they need to succeed in their careers. 


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

SO: Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with a manager who encouraged me to guide my career proactively.  I had been successful to that point, but his guidance and my reaction to it has clearly impacted my career.  He also showed me the value of staying in roles longer, learning the business and having a quantifiable impact on the people around me, versus moving swiftly upward from opportunity to opportunity.  He asked me at one point, “Would you rather move up quickly or be a person that others think of when they put a team together because they know you will make an impact?” I want to be the latter. 


In the early 2000s, I was fortunate to work for a senior executive who became both a mentor and a friend. The oil and gas industry is often seen as a male-dominated field, but he believed that recruiting, retaining and developing top female talent was a business imperative. And he invested his time and energy to ensure we made progress in this area.  He also took interest in my development and helped me to recognize the business value I could bring by being a role model for others.

Peter CellaAs I embark on my journey to find executive excellence, I have been picking the brains of those trailblazers who can lend insight into how I might best develop my business acumen, in hopes of shattering the glass ceiling and finding my spot at the executive table. I am inviting you to follow along on my journey with the hopes that this may ignite a passion in other females in the energy industry to join me in chasing this dream.


For those who have read my initial Pink Petro blog, Advice for Young Professionals Seeking a Seat on a Non-Profit Board, you are familiar with my journey. After spending over a decade dedicating many of my waking hours to becoming a technical expert in the world of fracturing and acidizing, I have now turned my focus on enhancing my executive presence. In this article, I have sought advice about how to gain membership on a for-profit board.


Last month, I had the privilege of sitting down with Peter Cella, the former CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical, one of the world’s top producers of ethylene and polyethylene and a leading supplier of aromatics, styrenics and specialty chemicals. Pete is now serving as a non-executive board member for Saudi Aramco, Inter Pipeline and ServiceMaster.


Before we dive into the conversation I had with Pete, I want to share how the opportunity to have this discussion came about. 


I asked.


It is as simple as that. I asked Pete to give me advice and recommendations on how females can better prepare themselves for seats on for-profit boards. Guess what? He said yes. I then found myself inviting Pete to coffee. Having an understanding of the entire energy value chain helped in our conversation. I put a little skin in the game over the past year and took the online Rice University course, Leadership and Decision Making in the Energy Industry. I also participated in the Rice Engineering & Construction Round Table Forum, a group that addresses different parts of the energy value chain at a monthly forum. These apertures into the industry provided me with fantastic tools to allow me to grasp the energy value chain in its entirety, particularly as it pertains to the petrochemical industry.


Although I am a chemical engineer by training and experience, I really lacked a firm grasp on the petrochemical industry until I participated in these venues.


Dare I say that most folks are unaware to what is happening on the Gulf Coast? There are large investments being made in the U.S. petrochemical industry, particularly in ethylene and polyethylene plants, which is in large part due to the low cost of natural gas and natural gas liquids. Who is investing in such infrastructure along the U.S. Gulf Coast of Mexico? Among others, Saudi Aramco and SABIC. Therefore, Pete Cella's close ties to the petrochemical industry, it makes sense that he was selected as a non-executive board member for Saudi Aramco.


Pete holds a degree in finance from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Northwestern University. He started his career working for Amoco, as a financial analyst. He would spend 17 years working in various business management positions before the merger of equals between Amoco and BP in 1999. 


Pete stayed with BP for six years, which included a position as the business unit leader for Global Olefin Specialties & Derivatives in Chicago. He then joined the executive team at Innovene, which was a $20 billion chemicals & refining company that was formed to be sold by BP through an initial public offering (IPO) of shares. Pete helped lead the efforts to file an S-1 prospectus for the planned IPO before the company was sold to INEOS.  He would then spend the next four months as the CEO of the Nitriles business at INEOS. Pete then joined BASF as the senior vice president – petrochemicals in North America, before being recruited by search firm Russell Reynolds for the position of CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company.


Pete gave me three pieces of advice at this point in our conversation:


  • Never turn down a call when someone comes to you with an opportunity. 
  • If you are approached for recommendations, they are interested in you and how you can fulfill a need.
  • Get to know the executive search firms so that they are familiar with your resume when opportunities arise.


In the six and a half years Pete spent serving as the CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, he focused on delivering three things:


  • Growth with the development of new ethylene and polyethylene capacity in Baytown and Old Ocean, Texas.
  • Talent development and succession planning
  • Environmental, health and safety excellence.


While Pete served as CEO, he worked hard to improve and achieve a safer work environment for all under the Chevron Phillips Chemical umbrella.


Before Pete and I addressed his advice regarding board membership, we spoke about development plans in some of the companies he worked for. In most of the firms, individuals with high upward potential were identified about one decade into their career and placed into an accelerated development program to help fulfill their potential. Such a program typically included a development plan that ensured the optimal mix of personal and professional experiences to test the identified potential and help prepare the individual for executive responsibilities. In some firms, individuals may not even know they have been selected to be groomed for movement up the ladder. However, Pete believes it is important to let that individual know that they are on an accelerated path.


There are several ways that candidates for executive development may see themselves vetted and groomed. While functioning as a subject-matter expert in one area, they may be taken out of their comfort zone and asked to lead a team in another area to glean how they adapt to change and challenge. Seeking international experience is crucial. It is vital for an individual to understand and be able to work across cultures as more firms become multinational. Not all who are targeted to rise up the corporate structure end up making it, but the invaluable relationships built along the way give worth to the endeavor, regardless of the ultimate outcome. A key takeaway from Pete is that during an interview, board members are assessed for how well they may work with others and build relationships.


Finally, we turned our conversation to advice on attaining board membership. I have bulleted my takeaways below.


  • One cannot apply for a board position. You are invited to the process by the nominating committee. For the Saudi Aramco IPO board, Pete was approached by search firm Spencer Stuart.
  • An individual is often invited to a board because they are filling a gap of expertise desired on the board. In Pete’s case with Saudi Aramco, he was filling a gap for the desired expertise of petrochemicals because of Saudi Aramco’s strategy to significantly grow its petrochemicals business.
  • Boards have key positions that require a skillset such as governance (lawyers), audit (finance, former CFO/CPA), compensation (HR), etc.
  • If you are an engineer like myself with a desire to one day sit on a for-profit board, his advice was to either become an expert in what you do in hopes that that expertise will be needed, or seek to become a generalist where you understand multiple aspects of building a successful enterprise, such as supply chain, sales/marketing, operations/manufacturing, HR/talent management, finance and IT.
  • Reserve a section on your resume dedicated to board experience. Even if you are not on a board you can capture your board engagement as you progress through your career.


I recommend that when you get the chance, ask the CEO of a company for their resume. This is probably one of the best tools one could ask for to learn how to emulate the experience necessary for executive experience.


Next, stay tuned for my upcoming article on an interview I did with Dawn Metcalfe, the author of Hard Talk, and Samuel Passow and Susanna Deverelle, both from the UK-based Negotiation Lab.

Amanda Barlow

Faces of Energy

Posted by Amanda Barlow Jun 4, 2018

Who are the Faces of Energy?

Who would know…we’ve never been allowed to show them.


The only time the industry is ever in the media spotlight is when disasters occur. No wonder the public has such a bad view of us. But why should all the passionate workers be tarred with the same brush as the operating company executives who historically have maintained a cloak and dagger facade of the workplace? A workplace that’s home for half the year, year after year, of fathers, sons, husbands, wives, mothers, sisters and brothers...real people, with real families, working in close-knit teams all around the world.


For too long the oil and gas industry has hidden behind a cloak of secrecy that only acts to perpetuate the dark public image it’s historically had.


What the industry fails to do

is highlight the individual people who make this industry what it is today…a high-tech, fast-paced, innovative and exciting place to work.



Using the power of social media to improve the public’s perception of the oil and gas industry


Allow photos in the workplace?? Let the outside world in on what it is we actually do on an offshore oil rig?? Surely not! Some companies even have strict terms in their employee contracts that state they are NOT allowed to take photos in the workplace. What sort of companies are so restrictive that they prohibit workers from showing pride in the work that they do and wanting to share it with family and friends?


When LinkedIn started with videos, Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn CEO) started a challenge for LinkedIn employees to post a video of themselves. He knew that bringing a personal face to the company would make the public feel like they could trust the online platform with their business. I loved it. It showed people who look just like you and me, ordinary people, showing pride in their workplace and the platform through which they are helping to link people’s professional networks. And the best part was that they were all showcasing something about their personal lives, not what they do at work. It was a chance to show the world their interests and passions outside of work; traits and interests that exhibited their core values.


Even the Prime Minister of Australia is now posting selfies on social media, for the same reason the O&G industry should be doing it... to show the human side of his “industry”. We can’t underestimate the effect happy faces can have on public opinion.


We need to start finding ways to embrace the power of social media instead of fearing it. It’s here to stay and like every other industry we need to embrace it for the powerful medium it is.


How refreshing would it be if our industry gave us that opportunity? The opportunity to share a selfie on the helideck of the facility we work on, or any other intrinsically safe location of a facility, with no fear of repercussions.


Why can’t serious work also be fun?


While preparing to depart an offshore rig for shore leave one day, I joined some of the people I had been working closely with on the project for a photo under the helideck. Most were local Myanmarese nationals and they were childishly excited about having their photo taken with the Australian wellsite geologist.


But it was more than that. I was also proud to be a part of their photo…a photo that summed up the shared knowledge, experience and passion that a diverse workforce brings to a project. It’s a photo that makes me smile every time I look at it because I remember the dedication and respect these people brought to the job I worked on. They were fun to work with. They taught me a lot about the Myanmarese culture and landscape. You don’t get that working in an office in a city. That’s what I love about working in this industry.


The excitement and pride these “locals” felt by taking this photo was priceless. Why should we be made to feel guilty about doing this?


Obviously some rules need to be followed. No filming of market-sensitive operations is a no-brainer, but why can’t workplaces have dedicated “photo friendly” locations where photos are permitted. But don’t make all the places boring. I challenge companies to come up with novel ideas for allowing their workers to show their pride in their workplace and be allowed to share it through social media outlets.


Don’t just say “NO”. This has been the directive for too long because it’s the easy way out. It’s time to show the human side of our industry. Show the incredible diversity of the workforce. No other workplace has such cultural diversity (unfortunately not gender yet) as offshore oil and gas facilities. Show the comraderie. Show off the beauty of the environment in which we work...sunsets and sunrises along ocean horizons and onshore plains.


If you are a big company, have a dedicated social media person who can organise responsible dissemination of appropriate work-related photos and videos. Encourage the workforce to show the personal, and the professional, side of the job they do. 


Run competitions for the best entries in topics of the related, career related, following procedures, best sunsets/sunrises, etc.


Like all innovative suggestions, there will always be people who will only see the downside of such an initiative. Try to think outside the box and brainstorm creative ways to make it work for your company and workplace.


The upside is:

  • Workers having a fun few seconds in their otherwise busy and often physically demanding job. This ultimately leads to a more cohesive workforce through strengthening of morale. Countless studies have shown how exceptional worker morale underpins the safety culture in any workplace.


  • Getting the message out that the O & G industry is about people, not just ugly steel structures and stock market prices.


  • The world seeing the human side of an industry that has traditionally been a closed door to the public. Being able to share their work life with family and friends makes the work-home gap seem less extreme than what it otherwise would be.


The objective is to show the world this industry can, and should be, all about the people who work in it. The industry has forced its workers to be mute for too long and it’s time to change that.


It’s time to show the world the

“Faces of Energy”


Myanmar DDKG2 Geology Team


Amanda Barlow is a wellsite geologist in the oil and gas industry and also a published author of "Offshore Oil and Gas PEOPLE - Overview of Offshore Drilling Operations"and “An Inconvenient Life – My Unconventional Career as a Wellsite Geologist”. You can connect with Amanda through the Pink Petro community and LinkedIn: