Amanda Darby

Vice President of Engineering, Azul Resources, Houston

Brought up alongside the energy industry, Amanda Darby saw the sector’s benefits and pitfalls firsthand through the eyes of her parents and decided to carry on the family tradition of contributing to the energy industry.

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?

“Like so many people born and raised in Houston, my parents were in the industry. I grew up going to Enron’s ‘Take Your Daughter to Work’ day with my mom and visiting my landman dad at his office. Though I saw the cyclical nature of the business, the exposure and opportunities excited me and fit in perfectly with my love for science and math.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.

“I got the unique opportunity at age 25 to spend a year rotating to Israel for Noble Energy to work on the Tamar project that supplied nearly 100% of the country’s natural gas and powered a majority of their electrical grid. It was a big year for my professional growth, witnessing how different and at times difficult it was to run an oil and gas operation abroad. I got to spend time on the offshore production platform learning the day-to-day of producing 1 Bcf of gas per day with essentially no downtime. It was also a big year for personal growth with spending half of the year in a foreign country away from my family and husband. I got to tour Jerusalem, float in the Dead Sea, scuba dive in the Red Sea, discover the Israeli wine regions and visit countless millennia-old historic sites.”

How have you exercised leadership to help shape your company?

“At Azul, we’re so small that everyone needs to wear multiple hats and take ownership. I will jump in and tackle any project regardless of my job title because our team success is paramount, so it’s a lead-by-doing approach. I’m building out the processes and models for evaluating investment opportunities, development planning, corporate reserves reporting and interfacing with accounting alongside our analyst so that we can quickly ramp up our operations and our business can run smoothly.”

Who are your mentors?

“I’m lucky to have my parents as mentors with past experience in the industry so they can understand and relate to the challenges I’ve faced. My mom was a managing director at Enron and UBS and climbed the corporate ladder to be a leader in her male-dominated organization. She taught me to be strong and confident in my career and that hard work and perseverance leads to success. My dad has worked in a five-person, PE-backed company, so it’s fun to hear stories about his experiences and pick his brain as we’ve been building Azul for the past year. He taught me the value in maintaining your ethics and that doing the right thing is the best course of action in your career (but also applies to your whole life).”

What transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?

“With the push toward clean energy and renewables, oil and gas are still a vital part of providing energy to the world and will be part of the energy transition. We need to change the negative narrative about our industry by touting our efforts to provide clean natural gas, capture greenhouse-gas emissions from our operations and educate the public on how oil and gas products are used in everyday items we take for granted.”

What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?

“Don’t be afraid to speak up or question the status quo even if you’re the youngest or only female person in the room. You’re there for a reason, and you bring a unique perspective that only you can share. Be confident in your voice and opinions.”

Three More Things

1. I balance my engineer left brain with artsy, creative hobbies. I play piano and love to needlepoint, knit and paint in my spare time.

2. My favorite vacations to date were a South African safari in Kruger National Park and traveling around Thailand.

3. I’m a WSET level one (the easiest!) in wine and hope to advance to level two and three as my professional and personal schedule allows. My husband and I love learning about (and consuming) wine.