Three weeks ago I attended the Women With Energy Summit, presented by the Offshore Energy Center (OEC) Society, at the Junior League of Houston in Houston, Texas. I’ve never been so immersed in the offshore oil and gas community before. Anyone in the maritime industry is certainly connected with the energy sector by virtue of working on board a vessel that burns petroleum or natural gas products for fuel, but it’s a different story to work aboard an offshore oil rig or drill ship, or to be an expert in geological sciences and sea floor exploration.
There were many such experts and more in attendance at this dynamic event. Panel discussions began with a group of executives at major oil companies (all women), answering questions about what it’s like to be in their positions and how they got there. Later we listened to a group of experts offer their perspectives on whether the energy industry is experiencing a revival, and how new policy in the United States will shape the global energy market. Panel discussions were broken up by networking breaks allowing for mingling with new connections.
We finished up the afternoon with a panel of founders and representatives of networks designed primarily to support women in the energy and maritime industries. I was joined by Ally Cedeno of Women Offshore, Katie Mehnert of Pink Petro, and Kara Byrne of the Women’s Energy Network to discuss the ways in which our networks are supporting women in energy, and the catalysts that spurred the creation of those networks. I was especially excited to meet both Ally and Katie for the first time; we’ve been in touch since the launch of Women Offshore in July 2017, and finally seized the opportunity to gather and exchange thoughts and ideas in Houston.
They aren’t joking when they call Houston the energy capital of the world. It seems every major oil company in the world is either headquartered or solidly established in Houston. Skyscrapers and office campuses bearing universally recognized energy brands line broad boulevards. The networking continued after the summit ended; I joined my friends Joy and Katie for dinner and met Sarah Watson of CSA Ocean Sciences, who told me about a project in her home country of Australia called WISE: Women in Subsea Engineering. I look forward to adding WISE to the growing list of networks for women in the offshore sector.
The trip to Houston was a productive one, filled with networking, new connections, and ample opportunities to spread the word of Sea Sisters - and to support similar networks around the country and around the world. Big thanks to the OEC Society for putting on this event, and to the sponsors for making it possible!