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Oil and Gas Investor

[Editor's note: Influential Women In Energy 2023 is a supplement to the February 2023 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine. Subscribe here.]

The big challenges and new opportunities of the oil and gas industry drew Rachel Schelble to the industry after she finished her degrees in geology.

“I was motivated by an opportunity to pursue research in new and exciting areas,” she said. “And I stay motivated today with the new and exciting areas of the global energy transition.”

Schelble is passionate about the dual challenges facing the industry: ensuring the energy it takes for society to thrive and the transition to a lower-carbon world where future generations can prosper. 

She started her career at Exxon Mobil Corp. when unconventional resources were first starting to be viable, and she recalls feeling excited to be a part of “something new” as she climbed the learning curve with the rest of the industry, discovering ways of extracting resources from source rocks that hadn’t seemed possible before.

“What may seem impossible today will become the new way of doing business tomorrow,” Schelble said.

Schelble joined Wood Mackenzie in 2021, where she now works to grow new research themes in corporate midstream and carbon management. She resides in Houston with her husband, James, son, Julian, and daughter, Liliana.

Setting a career pace

“When I first started my career in the oil and gas industry, I was eager to show my leadership potential, unique capabilities and adaptability. And while all of this is important to career acceleration, a successful career can only be defined from within. Through my career I’ve realized that my definition of success has changed multiple times. What’s most important is to run your own race using a measuring stick that matches what truly matters to you.”

A true gift

“I was fortunate to have mentors and champions all throughout my career, from my early internships at NASA, through my roles at Exxon Mobil and now at Wood Mackenzie. One of the greatest things that I learned from my mentors is that receiving feedback is a gift. People who take the time to help you become better are invaluable to your success. Even if the messages are hard to hear sometimes, the feedback is a true gift—only practice plus feedback makes you better.”

"Sometimes being uncomfortable is a necessary condition for progress.” —Rachel Schelble

Conditions for progress

“The times in my career when I have been humbled to learn something new and to step out of my comfort zone have been the most formative. When I moved from upstream roles to midstream and downstream roles, I found that I didn’t even know most of the acronyms. Instead of shrinking back due to my lack of knowledge, I asked questions, learned fast and eventually asked better and better questions. Career pivots are hard and very humbling, but you grow so much through the struggle. Sometimes being uncomfortable is a necessary condition for progress.”

Be yourself

“My best advice for young professionals in energy, or in any field, would be to find a work environment and a culture that allows you to truly take your whole self to work. We spend so much of our lives working, and it takes a diverse group of people that trust one another to make a good team. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our colleagues to not spend our time trying to be someone else during our work hours.”

Embrace the risk

“The pandemic caused the world to change in a rapid way, propelling us forward as a society not in steps, but by leaps and bounds. For the oil and gas industry to survive and thrive in the future it will take more big leaps and bounds. To get the energy transition truly underway, the industry will be pushed to leap without the promise of profitability or certainty in direction of a successful path ahead. The industry will need to embrace that risk and move forward anyway.”

Three more things

1. I love to write! [I write] Wood Mackenzie insights, letters to my children and an autobiography yet to be published.
2. I have a blue 1991 left-hand drive Nissan Figaro classic car that is my pride and joy.
3. I love champagne—it always makes me feel fancy.

25 Influential Women in Energy

View the full list of this year’s honorees at Hart Energy LIVE.