Understand, Respect and Invest: Lessons from my week as a Future Energy Leader

Jessica Jordan with Mike Train at CERAWeekFor the past 37 years executives, government officials and thought leaders from the energy, policy, technology and financial sectors have gathered in Houston, TX for CERAWeek. This year, I was fortunate to participate in the CERAWeek Future Energy Leader Program. Every gender, race, religion, political and personal affiliation seemed to have representation in the Future Energy Leaders Program and every voice and opinion was given equal weight. 

In one week as a Future Energy Leader, I networked with the world’s top energy CEOs and held my own discussing politically “hot” topics. I acted as an Emerson ambassador on the world’s largest energy stage, and ultimately, gained invaluable perspective on what energy leadership means on a personal, professional and global level. Perhaps most importantly, I was asked for my opinions. My voice mattered.

I learned that the future of our industry will be filled with immense challenges and vast opportunities. Personally, it is my duty to help my generation understand the critical role that we play and our ability to use our voice to influence and reform the future workforce and climate change. Professionally, it is my job to help our customers understand the critically-important role that technology (and Emerson) will have in Digital Transformation and in building a sustainable future.

Below is some advice I’d like to offer other aspiring energy leaders:

1. Understand the political landscape and the impact that regulatory policy, trade, education reform, climate change and diversity have on the global energy market.  Learn how policy decisions affect the governance of energy.  Here’s a quote that reinforces the importance of oil and energy from 2009 – almost a decade later it still rings true:

 “Oil is Power!” I don’t just mean power as in “energy,” I mean power, as in being a primary factor in the process of asserting and maintaining political dominance and control. Oil is needed to grow food, build infrastructure, advance technology, manufacture goods and transport them to market. It lubricates the mechanisms of both national and international politics. Those who can consistently get their hands on Engineering Women at CERAWeekthe most oil, at the best prices … will rule!’ (Oilprice.com, 2009)

 2. Respect the history of oil and the important role it plays as the lifeblood of industrialized nations as a critical energy source. In a politically-charged society, it is easy to overlook just how many of our basic day to day needs are reliant on hydrocarbon resources.  It is also important to remember that many other parts of the world have just begun to consume hydrocarbon resources. To progress as a society, it’s important to understand and respect what got us here while recognizing the needs of the global community as we figure out a path to a sustainable energy future. The Prize, by Daniel Yergin, (also available as an 8-part documentary on Amazon Video) is an excellent resource to learn more about this topic. 

David Farr CEO discussing the future of the Emerson workforce at CERAWeek3.  Invest in yourself; make the time to learn both the business and industry sides of energy.  I am currently an Executive MBA student at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin.  Having the opportunity to attend CERAWeek was a turning point for me in terms of feeling the value higher education offers.  Business school teaches you the common language of executive management.  Business school plus industry acumen gives you the foundation to be an active participatant in energy leadership; this can provide you with an opportunity to change the world. 

As the workforce continues to transform, the culture of equality that I experienced at CERA week will become critical. From our oil fields to our boardrooms, every voice needs to be represented and given equal consideration for our industry to continue to thrive. By understanding the perspective of industry and becoming involved in local political action committees, women and other industry minorities can bring a more balanced view to the conversation and help ensure decisions that are made today can benefit all - both short and long term. The future we face will be filled with big challenges and vast opportunities, but I know it will be bright and together we can all achieve more.