One woman’s considerable drive to pursue D&I in the Oil & Gas industry

Lamé Verre, a petroleum economist, talks to Orient Energy Review about making a difference in the Oil & Gas industry.

Lamé Verre, a petroleum economist with 20 years of experience working across the Oil & Gas industry value chain, has worked in several geographical locations, most recently she worked with Halliburton as the Senior Regional Manager Treasury for Europe, Eurasia, and Sub-Saharan Africa (EESSA).

Before joining Halliburton, Lamé founded Alaric & Associates, an independent Oil & Gas consulting firm focused on upstream and midstream sectors.

At a Diversity and Inclusion Summit in London, Lamé spoke with the publisher of Orient Energy Review magazine, Nneka Ezeemo on the need for organisations and stakeholders in the industry to show commitment to the call for diversity and inclusiveness by designing strategic plans and policies that will address already identified pain points, barriers and challenges while new ones should be fixed as they emerge.

Lamé, give us a peep into your person and career journey?

I’m a petroleum economist by background, and most recently ran the Treasury function for credit and collections at Halliburton, looking after Europe, Eurasia and Sub-Saharan Africa region.

I managed all of the customer financial relationships, with my team of eight spread across the region. With responsibility for managing account receivables and DSO, we made sure that the cash got through the door.

My 20 years in the Oil & Gas industry has been predominantly upstream. I spent 15 years in upstream space with companies like ENI where I started my career in Milan and Lagos before moving to the UK and working for Sterling Energy and Eon before transitioning into upstream consulting with Baker Hughes (Gaffney, Cline & Associates) a service company. I then spent two years running my business post my MBA and a tour of Houston as you do when working in Oil & Gas. I have now spent the last two-and-a-half-years in Halliburton running this function

You have a wealth of corporate experience, which is an excellent asset for private practice, so are you still running your business?

My business came out of necessity. After years of being a petroleum economist, I got to that point where I had enough of doing the same thing. Even though I was growing in my capacity, the scope of responsibilities and leading high functioning teams, it didn’t feel fulfilling enough, so I decided to go and do my MBA while also moving into consulting with Baker Hughes.

I came out of my MBA programme right in the middle of the downturn. I was in Houston at the time. So, with the 2015 downturn walloping companies, all the expatriate’s contracts were cancelled. With the contract nullified in Houston, the UK role ceased to exist, and so I had to make a choice. At that time, my second son was on the way, so we waited and moved back to the UK after he was born and that was when I decided to monetise my skills and set up my consulting firm where I did contract work as a petroleum economist. And in the meantime, I also joined forces with a friend to set up a pipeline company where we were looking to sell High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipelines into the Oil & Gas industry.

It was a great concept, and companies liked the project, but because of the downturn, we were swimming against the tide. No one had a budget for any pilot project. I did that for two-and-a-half years, and it was quite a refreshing experience because I was doing all sorts of activities ranging from finance, business development, to putting together contracts, client development, IT, HR and everything in between.

So, it was quite intense and at the same time, a great experience. The only difficulty there as a start-up was the irregularity of income as we were still building up the company and also working round the clock. When baby number three was on the way, I had to make another call; I needed something more stable and structured. I then chose to go back to the corporate sector in the summer of 2017. I was actually eight months pregnant when I got offered the role, so I started the role 5th of June and had the baby a month later.

That is how I started my own business, it was fun, and I enjoyed the flexibility that came with that. I owned my time, I could do school runs, go to games, do anything with the kids, and it was good. But then, when you have three kids living in London, you need to have another conversation. Things were changing and elicited the need to make those choices on how to manage time, income, family and all the things in-between.

Could you share an experience you have had in the Oil & Gas that you hope to address?

It is important to me that I make a difference to my team because coming into the industry without visible role models, sponsors or anything similar, it is important that people coming behind me don’t have to go through the same hoops. So, if I can give someone a shortcut on how to navigate this industry, then, I will be delighted to share that experience.

I think given my personal experiences and the lack of support thereof, it has also made me a different type of leader because my experience shows me what not to do. If something happened at work, the negative effect it might have had on me tells me that probably that’s not the right or the best practice and so, I do the exact opposite. If I have an absentee leader, I know that the feeling of abandonment is not something I want to live with and so I make sure that I’m there for my team.

I show up and always give them my time because that helps them to be the best version of themselves. People can’t come in as human beings and be expected to become just a human resource. Organisations need to understand that, and as individuals, we need to know what our strength and weaknesses are, and we should try to play more to our strength because if we spend so much time trying to fix the weaknesses, we lose valuable time we can use to do something meaningful with impact.

I like your concept about developing people, so do you, coach? How do you give back to society?

No, I don’t coach because I’m not trained to be a coach, but I’m very generous with my time. There is a young lady at this event; she is a student who I met her through work. I’ve given her a lot of my time and try to steer her in the right direction, offering some guidance. When I heard that there’s an offer for students to attend this event for free, I invited her to come out here to see if she can meet people who may help her as she has just finished her MSc. I encouraged her to make those connections, make those friendships because it can turn out to be something. And so yes, I do try to give back.

I speak at the Society of Petroleum Engineers SPE, where I do a one-day seminar on the intro to E&P. I take the economic and commercial session even though I’ve not worked as an economist for a while. But it has been a big part of my career, that is where my passion lies, and I share that with those coming up the ranks, making sure that the knowledge does not get put in the box and underused.

I have realised that I have got a very unusual background in the Oil & Gas space, which makes me unique. I am not a STEM person as a petroleum economist, but my role is a very technical and integral part of the value creation and interdisciplinary workflow, I did that for 15 years, and I have enjoyed passing that knowledge on.

I do the SPE training once a year, and I have done it for the past four years enjoying every minute of it. I also try to give back through other speaking engagements like this conference and act as a mentor to several individuals

Nneka Ezeemo

Co-Founder and Senior Media Manager of Orient Energy Review Magazine.


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