Human resources

Meet SPE Women in Energy at ATCE—Sharing Leadership Insights for Success in Energy Transition and Career Building

Times are turbulent across the globe as the ongoing responses to the pandemic remain varied. The oil and gas industry—and SPE members—remain affected personally and professionally by its effects on the supply/demand balance, the oil price, and the energy transition.


To support SPE members in this time of change, the SPE Women in Energy (WIN) committee sponsored two special sessions at the 2020 SPE Virtual Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition on 27 October.

The first panel event was entitled, “Do We Have the Skills and People Needed for the Global Energy Transition?” Four well respected panelists were featured, including 2020 SPE President Shauna Noonan, director of artificial lift engineering at Occidental Petroleum Corp.; César Patiño, technical management, Ecopetrol, and SPE Regional Director Latin America and the Caribbean 2018–2020; Susan Howes, vice president of engineering at Subsurface Consultants & Associates LLC; and Sarah Saltzer, managing director of the Stanford Center for Carbon Storage and the Stanford Carbon Removal Initiative. Peggy Rijken, chapter manager, geomechanics, at Chevron, served as moderator of the panel.

The International Labor Organization recently estimated that globally there are nearly 6 million people directly employed by the petroleum industry. The panel discussed the wide variety and depth of skills, expertise, and technical knowledge found within this diverse group, noting that this scale of talent found across the world is prepared and capable of moving the needle toward energy transition.

The discussion led to the following highlights:

  • Oil and gas are part of the clean energy transition.
  • Sustainability must be supported by competency and technology development.
  • Clean energy goals are achieved by abandoning operational “silo mentalities.” Information, goals, tools, priorities, and processes must be shared.
  • Business, management, and leadership skills are needed and are transferrable as we provide support through the energy transition.
  • Our industry has repurposed skills before (e.g., deepwater, unconventionals) and can do so again.

A second panel session with an equally timely topic was entitled, “Succeeding on the Corporate Ladder: Tips and Tricks.” The globally recognized panelists included 2017 SPE President Janeen Judah, member of the board of directors of Patterson-UTI Energy; Karen Olson, senior completions advisor at Well Data Labs; Maria Angela Capello, executive consultant at Kuwait Oil Co.; and 2021 SPE President Tom Blasingame, professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Peggy Rijken served as moderator.

The panel shared four key areas of focus with the audience to help them accomplish success in their careers:

  • Seek champions and sponsors, build meaningful relationships with those champions and sponsors, and always seek to learn from others throughout your career.
  • Share your knowledge willingly, elevate and recognize others, build allies and supporters, and empower and help others along your career journey.
  • Build your career endurance. Don’t give up, believe you can do anything, be bold, and don’t shy away from expanding your professional “territory.”
  • Strive for distinction and excellence. Become a technical expert, trust in your abilities, and always be authentic.

The SPE WIN standing committee was established in 2016 to elevate gender diversity within the oil and gas industry. Our volunteers have worked to expand our brand and community presence within the society, and according to the June 2020 annual section reports submitted to the SPE International Board, WIN has groups or WIN-focused activities within 56 SPE sections.

Consideration of the diverse nature of the energy industry triggered the need to emphasize the value that diversity and inclusion (D&I) bring to our society. Also, to ensure that SPE remains current and relevant with its standing committees, the SPE International Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee was launched after the 2020 ATCE, leveraging the existing D&I network and expanding the mission and vision to encompass D&I within SPE and the oil and gas industry.

SPE has a broad-reaching membership base and expansive network of influence. D&I activities and efforts must be bespoke for the local environment. This committee will work to foster productive relationships among its members and the local sections and chapters to ensure D&I upholds local cultural and societal context.

You can learn more about the D&I Committee at If you wish to set up a D&I committee in your region, please contact On-demand access to the 2020 ATCE, including the WIN special sessions, is available. Visit to learn more.