Sam Holroyd has covered a lot of ground—literally and figuratively—in her nearly 30-year career in energy. She has worked for U.S. companies and internationally for one of the largest integrated producers, Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Contributing to her career has been her ability not only to communicate effectively on geotechnical issues but also to convey the likely value generating implications for an investment opportunity.
Sam’s career has progressed through three key stages to her current role, focused predominantly on executive advisory services. The initial phase was as a reservoir engineer, working at ARCO Oil & Gas Co., Tenneco Oil Co. and later Range Resources Corp. She then spent a third of her career at Ryder Scott Co. developing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting and investor relations skills. Subsequently, she turned to private equity, with stints at EIG Energy Partners, Denham Capital and TPG Sixth Street Partners, before joining Lantana Energy Advisors at the beginning of 2018.
Important career milestones for Sam include her qualification as a registered professional engineer (PE). With Ryder Scott audit experience and a PE under her belt, Sam was recruited and accepted a position as global reserve audit manager at Shell in the aftermath of its write-down of a material portion of its proved reserves base following an SEC investigation centered on noncompliance for proved reserve reporting. Sam took charge at the beginning of 2009 and carried her global responsibilities through 2011 based out of Shell’s corporate headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.
With the above involving technical, regulatory compliance and even political challenges, it may appear that a path to reservoir engineering was always on the cards for Sam. This was not always the case.
While Sam says she was “wired” to be an engineer, with an instinct for solving problems, she initially attended Colorado School of Mines (CSM) ambitioned to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. Through the support of Ramona Graves—a CSM professor who mentored many students considering a career in energy—Sam revised her commitment and committed to earn a Bachelor of Science in petroleum engineering. Dr. Graves is also a past honoree of Oil and Gas Investor’s 25 Influential Women in Energy and received the publication’s 2018 Pinnacle Award.
One factor helping drive Sam’s career is her “passion” to be a communications catalyst. This has enabled her to bridge the gap that often exists between those assessing geotechnical and operational issues and those evaluating commercial factors and, in turn, developing an aligned valuation proposition for a specific asset. This skillset helped advance Sam’s career in a variety of leadership roles in private equity and as a trusted advisor.
Another “mantra” providing an impetus to her career is Sam’s attitude: “What if I had said ‘Yes?’” This attitude has encouraged her “to go the next level,” she explains. “I never wanted to reflect on my career and be haunted by the thought ‘What if I had said yes?’” This mantra played a role in her decision to accept a global position at Shell, relocating to The Hague after nearly 20 years in Houston.
Sam also cites “emotional intelligence” as an important developmental tool over the past five years in terms of building relationships. It is a structured approach to self-awareness and management leading toward more effective relationship management. “Emotional intelligence is continually helping me evolve my relationships, be a better listener and a better leader. It is becoming an important component of corporate culture.”
When asked if she was treated differently from her male colleagues early in her career, Sam recalled her experience working as a junior engineer on an offshore platform where there were 60 men and she was the single female crew member stationed on the rig for almost a month. One of the “senior company men” advised her to be an “eager learner” and to draw on the knowledge of the crew members. Apart from sleeping in the hospital because there were no separate female quarters on the drilling rig, Sam says she’s been treated very well. “I consider myself very fortunate to have spent my career in the oil and gas business,” says Sam.