Career development

Thirteen Young Professionals Recognized by OTC as Emerging Leaders

Young professionals from multiple technical societies and associations were identified as emerging leaders in the offshore energy sector.


The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) announced its inaugural class for its Emerging Leaders Program, which recognizes young professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the offshore energy sector who are making significant contributions to the sector through service, innovation, and focus on safety.

Program participants are nominated by one of OTC’s 13 sponsoring, endorsing, or supporting organizations. The 2021 recipients will be honored during the Young Professionals: Diversify Your Network event, which will take place during the conference on 18 August.


Laura Dafov
Geologist, bp America

Laura Dafov primarily supports the Green Canyon and Atwater Valley areas offshore Gulf of Mexico (GoM) through data analysis, subsurface map generation, log data integration, reservoir quality analyses, and interpreting 3D seismic reflectivity data.

During her PhD program, Dafov focused on the emerging relatively clean-burning energy resource of gas hydrates, offshore, including the gas hydrates stability zone that can be used for CO2 sequestration, and her 25-million-cell offshore basin and petroleum system model is currently being used by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for a drilling expedition.

 Ramakrishna Ponnapati
Techno-Commercial Manager, Reservoir Technical Services, Baker Hughes

Since joining Baker Hughes in 2011, Ponnapati has contributed to the development, testing, and launch of several new production chemistry products for offshore and onshore applications, including asphaltenes inhibitors, emulsion breakers, hydrogen sulfide scavengers, corrosion inhibitors, and near-wellbore remediation.

Ponnapati has received several internal and external awards for his technological contributions, including Best Production Chemicals Award presented at World Oil Awards 2017, Hart's E&P Meritorious Award for Engineering Innovation presented at OTC 2017, and Best Cross-Product Line Collaboration Project presented at CIS annual awards 2016.

Amy McCleney
Research Engineer, Southwest Research Institute

Amy McCleney frequently evaluates the performance and safety aspects of offshore technologies through computational and testing programs and is currently conducting research activities dedicated to aiding and enhancing oil spill response activities.

These projects include investigating the performance of blowout preventers under flowing conditions, evaluating the effectiveness of equipment used for dispersant surface delivery under a variety of oil spill scenarios, and assessing the current state of the art in sorbent technologies.

Patricia Varela
Project Professional, Geosyntec Consultants

As a geological and geotechnical engineer, Varela has been involved with geotechnical site investigations for offshore wind farm cable routes at the US Northeast Atlantic and marine facilities of the Mozambique liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, has completed a geohazard investigation and characterization of GoM’s Trion basin, and developed a method for geohazard susceptibility mapping along pipeline routes in the US and Canada.

As a result of her probabilistic calibration model to estimate geotechnical properties of marine soils from the Levantine basin, Varela published "The Effect of Bayesian Updating in the Hazard Assessment of Submarine Landslides," which she presented at OTC 2019.

Alexander Mackay
Project Engineer, Ryder Scott Company

Alexander MacKay is a multi-discipline engineer with 6 years' experience in the subsea and pipelines (onshore, offshore, and landfall) engineering disciplines and is currently studying the implementation of subsea water treatment and injection in deepwater GoM.

In addition, MacKay has executed field development planning studies for midstream projects, including LNG import studies conducted for the US Trade and Development Agency where LNG demand modeling in developing countries is used to select an import terminal size, site, and concept (onshore or floating-storage-regasification-unit based).

Rami Jabaru
Senior Research Engineer, Sensors, Automation, and Robotics Team, ExxonMobil

Rami Jabari has extensive autonomous and robotic systems experience in industry and academia, highlighted through his technical paper on the evolution of autonomy and advancements of offshore robotics, emphasizing the ability to enhance safety and reliability while reducing cost.

Jabaru continues to drive innovation by introducing offshore robotics to industry collaborative sessions, championed the creation of the industry's first Robotic-Enabled Facilities seminar hosted by SPRINT Robotics, curated OTC's first panel session on Enabling Normally Unattended Facilities, and currently has four patents pending.

Kevin Jensen
Drilling Engineer, bp

During his first 8 years in the offshore energy industry, Jensen led multiple large integrated teams during the planning, detailed design, and execution of both the drilling and completion of safe and compliant wells in deepwater GoM.

Jensen also championed a new innovative type of well design that modified the bp global standard high-pressure wellhead allowing for elimination of the tieback casing string which reduced exposure onshore and offshore to the risks of pipe-handling and running operations via elimination of more than 200,000-ft of tubulars.

Riad Efendi
Corporate HSE Manager, TechnipFMC

In 2017, after the merger of Technip and FMC, Efendi was promoted from regional to global corporate office and was tasked with consolidation of the legacy companies' incident and audit reporting systems and has been leading an initiative for selection and implementation of a joint Quality, Health, Safety, Environment, and Security digital solution for the company since 2019.

Before his current role, Efendi designed a mobile app for reporting incidents, site visits, and observations which was adopted worldwide and earned him the American Society of Safety Engineers (since 2018, American Society of Safety Professionals) Safety Management Innovation award.

Michael Sager
Subcommittee Leader, Marine Technology Society (MTS) Young Professionals

Michael Sager promotes growth and exposure for young professionals through MTS-sponsored training seminars and events exposing young professionals to key projects, industry leaders, and companies while identifying resources and tools to enhance their careers.

In addition to his role at MTS, Sager is a Registered Engineer in Training in Texas and works as a project engineer for DOF Subsea, planning, designing, and executing remotely-operated-vehicle supported subsea projects.

Catherine Nesbit
Compliance Engineer, bp

As a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas, Nesbit currently supports drilling and production operations in deepwater GoM as a compliance engineer, influencing and leading compliance for multiple drilling and operational activities.

Nesbit has led diverse technical teams, delivered value adding stretch projects in downstream, upstream, and renewables, and created and successfully implemented training programs that support continued growth on various technical and regulatory compliance topics.

Shane Carley
Geophysicist, Chevron

Shane Carley has been a technical leader in deepwater GoM at Chevron for the past 10 years and excels at reservoir characterization, bringing new and emerging technologies to the company’s offshore assets to help illuminate production issues and drive insights into green and brown fields.

Shane has championed several technologies that have led to increased reserves and improved recovery, including 4D seismic, spectral decomposition, and applications in machine learning, in addition to supporting the utilization of new surveillance technologies to inform reservoir management aiming to maximize the value of surveillance data toward driving business decisions.

Nate Meredith
Engineer, NOV/GustoMSC

Since joining GustoMSC in 2015, out of the University of Michigan, Meredith has proven himself a capable naval architect through a progression of increasingly challenging technical and project management roles which he has passed through seamlessly.

Outside of his role at GustoMSC, Meredith has been an active member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) where he has been instrumental in the organization and execution of the SNAME Offshore Symposium, annually held in Houston.

Kuhanesapathy Thavaras Pathy
Senior Wells Engineer, Petronas

Kuhan Pathy is the sole Professional Engineer in the Wells Department of Petronas and has been instrumental in well engineering and operational optimization while maximizing deliverables, promoting transparency and governance for the company.

To date, he has been part of ten deepwater well exploration projects, the latest offshore Suriname, and has been conferred with more than 30 awards in the areas of innovation and research, including World Academy of Research and Publication, International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition, and Malaysia Technology Expo.

The thirteen organizations sponsoring, endorsing, or supporting OTC which nominated young professionals for the recognition include the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Oceanic Engineering Society, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, the International Marine Contractors Association, the Marine Technology Society, the National Ocean Industries Association, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

[The article was sourced from OTC by TWA editor Thomas Shattuck.]