After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in supply chain operations, Stephanie Cox was looking for an opportunity that would enable her to apply the knowledge she had gained and to learn and be stretched in a job that further developed her skills. She didn’t have her sights set on the oil and gas industry, but she was immediately attracted by the career opportunities that Schlumberger Ltd. presented as an employer.
She joined the firm in 1991, and she spent the next 28 years in increasingly key roles of supply chain, manufacturing and operations for the Gulf of Mexico offshore, Asia and North America businesses and leading human resources for the company, which employs more than 100,000 employees globally.
“One of the many reasons I was drawn to Schlumberger was because that first job had significant responsibility, and I could use what I learned in university and past internships right away; it felt like a real job that I could immediately contribute,” Cox says.
“I worked very hard. I really stretched myself. I was flexible, open-minded and mobile, and because of that the company gave me roles of increased responsibility and diversity throughout my career.”
After nearly three decades at Schlumberger, Cox took on a new career challenge in October 2019 and was appointed CEO of asset solutions Americas for Wood Plc, an opportunity she says allows her to apply her leadership skills to a more extensive range of operations and sectors, ranging across the U.S., Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Mexico and Guyana.
“I was intrigued to look beyond just the upstream oil and gas industry, and to a role where I would have a wider span of responsibility,” she says.
“What I liked about Wood is that it covers a broader portfolio than just oil and gas; it’s a company that has really diversified in recent years into renewable energy, including solar and wind, environmental and infrastructure, downstream and petrochemicals.
“The company is seeking to deliver sustainable solutions to secure energy supply as our industry seeks balance in energy transition. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Cox says that as her career progressed, she never felt that she was treated differently as a woman in the oil and gas industry.
“From a gender standpoint, I wasn’t treated differently coming into the job, nor was I from an experience standpoint,” she says. “That was something I really appreciated at Schlumberger because when you’re coming out of school at 22 years old and when you’re working with colleagues who are your parents’ age, I was grateful and surprised I wasn’t treated as just some kid, even though I was the youngest person for a long time.
“And yes, I was typically the one female in the room in many settings for many, many years, but I wasn’t treated in a way that I felt [was] uncomfortable.”
Cox counts among her career milestones her first role managing manufacturing at Schlumberger, particularly since her early career focused on supply chain logistics.
“My whole team probably had 15-plus more years’ seniority than I did,” she says. “They had never worked for a female before, and I had a lot of really significant responsibilities with that job.”
Another early milestone was her first operational role managing the Gulf of Mexico operations post-Hurricane Katrina—not having an engineering background and leading operations was a unique experience.
“This was one of the first jobs where I really had to rely on the expertise of my team and use different skillsets to lead a team and outperform key targets. This continued with larger operational roles for Asia and North America.” Cox said.
“It was very rewarding, and I continued to utilize those leadership skills throughout my career at Schlumberger and now at Wood.
Schlumberger has spent billions of dollars to take over managing customers' oil fields, in some cases becoming an investor in the fields, while seeking to profit from increased oil production.
Hart Energy and Oil and Gas Investor will recognize the accomplishments of 25 Influential Women in Energy alongside this year’s Pinnacle Award recipient Dr. Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
The number of pipeline and storage terminal projects proposed to move shale to the U.S. Gulf Coast has dwindled amid steps by oil producers to pare exploration spending.