The energy sector has traditionally been perceived as being tough, dirty and dangerous as well as being one dominated by males. But transformation, new energies, and a need for across-the-board skills have seen women not only on-boarding companies in the energy field but also heading them up. In the second of two articles, Marcy Reed and Sarah Irving, guest speakers at the Council on Business & Society Energy, Business, and Society Forum in Boston end-2015, shed light on the profiles and skills required by the industry in the years to come.
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Can-do for change and innovation
Marcy Reed is President of the National Grid of Massachusetts which provides transmission and distribution of electricity and natural gas to customers in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Reed sees the need for people with “can do” attitudes, self-confidence, and the ability to change course quickly as situations demand. She states that leading and managing teams through this time of opportunity and shifts in the industry, requires utility leaders to be forward-thinkers who embrace change and innovation, as well as being able to balance technology and engineering with the necessary “soft skills” to engage stakeholders. We should always keep the needs of customers at the forefront, she insists. That means leaders who have combined cross-functional experience in science, technology, and engineering fields, plus advanced degrees, self-confidence, and the ability to demonstrate agility in the face of changing situations.
Energy is diversity
Sarah Irving is Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer at Irving Oil, founded in 1924 and a privately owned refining and marketing company with a history of long-term partnerships and relationships. She offers the image of a good athlete as a great way to think of building skills for a career in energy: critical thinkers, good team players, and people with the right cultural fit for the industry. For Irving, diversity of background is important – those from government backgrounds, human resources, branding and marketing – able to understand the customers within each distinct market. When she thinks about the social license to operate for the oil and gas business, she asserts that brand, reputation, and trust are of utmost importance. On the subject of post-graduate studies for those seeking future employment in the sector, Sarah Irving suggests that programmes should incorporate short, interdisciplinary courses based around case studies that would consider market conditions, as well as government and regulatory issues. These are such an important part of business today, she states. Whereas traditional post-graduate and MBA programmes bring in day-to-day considerations such as finance and operations, her ideal course would incorporate multidisciplinary threads into one course. She ends by advising graduates to look at the industry from a broad perspective, insisting that there is a multitude of opportunities to apply whatever the background a student may have.
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