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[Editor's note: Influential Women In Energy 2023 is a supplement to the February 2023 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine. Subscribe here.]
Now the vice president of land at Ascent Resources, Serena Buck worked her way up as an early female pioneer in the male-dominated landman business during the turbulent 1980s.
An Oklahoma native, she always focused on the land side of the oil and gas industry, eventually working with the late Chesapeake Energy Corp. visionary, Aubrey McClendon, as her leadership mentor.
A landman veteran at Marathon Oil Corp. and EOG Resources, Buck joined McClendon at Chesapeake in 2003 and followed him to his startup, American Energy Partners, in 2013. She took over as a vice president of land at Ascent in 2015.
“There was a time in my early career I never thought I would be called a landman,” Buck said. “I was a female with a business degree, not PLM or energy management, so I guess earning the title ‘landman’ was an early goal. Today, as an executive in land management and A&D, my goal is leading the next generation to be the best leaders and mentors that they can possibly be.”
“I am first-generation oil and gas in my family. I spent my summer between sophomore and junior year of college working in the land department for a company called TIPCO and that is where I got my first taste of the oil and gas industry. I was so intrigued by the history involved in chaining titles, putting that puzzle piece together and talking with landowners. My first full-time job was with TXO Production Corp., which later became Marathon Oil, where I became more fascinated in the history of title and oil and gas law, as well as the land department’s role as liaison with landowners and other disciplines in the well life cycle.”
Navigating the industry
“There were not many females doing land work in the 1980s, so I really had to learn to navigate the ‘boys club’ by being diligent, detailed, respectful and thorough in my work.
“Obviously, many times I was the only woman in the room, but I didn’t want my gender to be the reason I stood out. I wanted to be recognized for my expertise. I wanted to prove to management and my peers that I earned my seat at the table. I came thoroughly prepared to meetings, offered creative ideas to problem solving and always listened attentively to the other disciplines around the table. I find there is always someone with more expertise in a given discipline at the table to learn from. We never stop learning.
"Today if I am the only woman in the room, the assumption is not that I am there just to make copies or bring coffee into the room.” – Serena Buck
“Being the only lady in the room, I had to develop a thick skin. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, so I just didn’t take any insensitive remarks too seriously. I feel we have come a long way since my early days in the industry. I am so excited to see more and more women in the boardroom. Today if I am the only woman in the room, the assumption is not that I am there just to make copies or bring coffee into the room.”
“Early on in my career, I worked on the development of the Oklahoma City Airport field, which was challenging and contained hundreds of landowners. During my EOG and Chesapeake days, I put together many townsite wells, which is always fun getting to throw a big event and meet all the local landowners. Large landowner group signings can be a challenge as well, but also very rewarding when an owner tells you, ‘This bonus check just paid off my family farm that we were about to lose or paid for my children’s college educations.’”
“I was very excited to be named land manager in 2008 at Chesapeake. At the time, I was the only female land manager until I left in 2011. I am very happy to see that many other ladies were named to land leadership positions after that time. I think one of my biggest career milestones was in 2013 when Aubrey McClendon was forming a new startup company, American Energy Partners. I was his first hire and named director of land. It was an amazing opportunity to stand side by side with Aubrey and other exceptional leaders, develop a new company with diverse platforms and negotiate many acquisitions for new assets. American Energy Utica later became Ascent Resources. I am very proud to have been a part of the company’s genesis and growth.”
Three more things
1. Skydiving is on my bucket list. Both of our sons are certified in this, so hopefully I will get to experience that thrill.
2. How my parents got my name is a funny and a sweet story from my birth … but you will have to ask me in person to hear it. Great conversation starter.
3. My proudest career moment of 2022 was receiving the Bill Majors Distinguished Service Award in mentoring from the Oklahoma City Association of Professional Landmen surrounded by my amazing family, work family and friends.
View the full list of this year’s honorees at Hart Energy LIVE.
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