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[Editor's note: Influential Women In Energy 2021 is a supplement to the May 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

Liese Adams Borden said she has always liked math, and so a high school counselor encouraged her to choose engineering as a major in college. Her father had an aeronautical engineering degree and was an Air Force/NASA test pilot who earned his astronaut wings flying the X-15 experimental rocket plane.

“He was killed in an X-15 crash when I was only six years old,” she said. “I grew up with a single, hard-working mom and two brothers. I was always very independent and felt like I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to.”

She chose petroleum engineering because it looked like it offered a rewarding career. 

“The oil field looked exciting, very hands-on, often outdoors and filled with dynamic people,” Borden said. 

Today she helps find those dynamic people as chief human resources officer for global upstream supplier Hunting Plc.

“I love the oil and gas industry. I think it is made up of risk takers, entrepreneurs and downright fun people.” 

Getting the job done 

“There have been some challenges and there have been some advantages. When I started my first job as a wireline field engineer with Schlumberger, there were very few women in the field. I was assigned to a town in West Texas that was filled with independent oil companies, where often the company man was the owner. I remember going on a well site where I was told that the company man didn’t allow women on the rig floor because it was bad luck. Well, I had to go up in the doghouse to get my data to run the job, so I went up anyway. There are many things that can go wrong on a logging job, but this particular job went perfectly and in record time. After that, the owner/operator thought I was the best logging engineer ever and spread the word around town. Later, when I became a sales engineer, they became my best customer.”

No regrets 

“I feel like the biggest challenge a woman faces is the same challenge that everyone (both men and women) face and that is managing your job with your current personal situation, whether it is raising children, taking care of elderly parents or a multitude of other scenarios. As a mother of three, which included boy/girl twins, I was very involved in everything associated with my children—volunteering at their schools, attending all their cheerleading and baseball games, and being involved with their activities with friends. There wasn’t much I missed. However, there were times that I made some career choices based on my family situation, and I know that limited my career growth at times. But I managed through it and am happy with what I have achieved. It’s nice to look back and have no regrets.”

Memorable accomplishment

“One exciting project that I worked on with Schlumberger was when I was in the role of dual career and diversity manager, and I helped develop a new, revolutionary U.S. parental leave policy. It was recognized as one of the best for companies in the U.S. and was highlighted in the November 2001 issue of the magazine Working Mother.”

Human resources 

“I spent the first half of my career in engineering, operations, sales and marketing positions, and about midway through I began to take on some HR roles. This led me to a position at a startup company in a lead HR role, although I was exposed to the operations and strategy of the company as well. Since then I have continued in HR positions at companies that value the strengths that HR brings to the table. I am happy in the role where HR is helping the company develop strategy to reach their goals. I have always believed that the best traits of good management are taking care of and developing your employees.”

Memorable mentors 

“Dr. Jeff Spath, retired from Schlumberger and currently the department head of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M, who is a good friend as well as a mentor, has always been there for advice, and he continues to be a mentor for both of my daughters who have also become petroleum engineers.

“Also, I have a recent mentor, Mary Bass, that gives great advice to executives and board members. One of her recent pieces of advice is ‘you need to be open, open to new ideas and need to be open to change.’ I think this is especially important in today’s environment when we are all finding ourselves in unprecedented and often uncertain times.”

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Advice for young professionals 

“When searching for the perfect job, make sure you look at the company and understand their culture and style of management. Your success in your position depends not only on your personal performance but also how your management supports and helps in your development for your career. Always value your network of colleagues. It’s amazing how small the oilfield can really be, and you will find yourself crossing paths with people from your past often. With the ups and downs of the industry, it is remarkable how this network of people support each other with business introductions and staying connected. Never stop learning, and don’t be afraid to consider a role that seems to be off the path of what you were anticipating. If you strive for a management position, consider various roles that may broaden your perspective and develop traits to make you a good leader. Lastly, it’s OK to slow down at certain times of your career. There may be phases in your life when a position with a lot of travel is just not the best for your personal situation, but further down the road it may be different. Life is constantly changing, and so you may have to be flexible with your career. That’s why it is so important to align with a company that values their people and supports their decisions.”

Formative experience 

“I believe involvement with professional organizations such as SPE and PESA help with leadership development and industry advancement. I’m currently enrolled in PESA’s ESG Certification Program. In my HR role, I have found SHRM to be a great resource for HR-related topics. Also, organizations such as WEN (Women’s Energy Network) have introduced me to a wealth of perspectives from an impressive group of women.”