Janice Tran

Co-founder and CEO, Kanin Energy, Houston
Tran, Janice

“Be brave,” Janice Tran advises young professionals. “Go after what you want and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.” She follows her own advice. The daughter of refugees from Vietnam who immigrated to Canada, Tran helped launch Kanin Energy during the pandemic and is inspired by the idea that her company can accelerate a sustainable energy solution (waste heat to power) that has historically been overlooked and underfunded. Tran believes that the youth are critical for driving a sustainable energy future. She co-founded Student Energy, a global youth-led organization empowering young people to accelerate the energy transition, in college and continues to sit on the board today. “Seeing the passion and drive that youth bring into any dialogue brings me fulfillment and joy,” she said.

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“Growing up in Alberta helped me appreciate the sacredness of our natural environment but also an appreciation for the energy industry and the economic prosperity it can bring to a city. My life mission has been dedicated to bridging these two worlds and building an energy future that is energy abundant and environmentally sustainable.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.
“Meeting female senior executives in the oil and gas space is uncommon. So, I get excited when this happens. I find it happening more regularly now, which is a great thing.”

What has been your most challenging project to date?
“As an entrepreneur, you are always tested. When you think that you’ve really reached your limit, something happens the next week that pushes you to push yourself. Being a young leader of a high-growth startup is by far the most challenging but rewarding experience I’ve had. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“We are going through a very interesting time, where energy transition and geopolitics are serious considerations in the long-term outlook for the sector. I think now, more than ever, adaptability and openness to innovation are qualities that will make one successful over the next decade as the industry evolves.”

How have you exercised leadership to help shape your company?
“As a startup CEO who is also a female minority, I recognize that I am paving the way for many others. So, not only am I mindful of my leadership internally at Kanin Energy, I’m also aware that how I represent myself also influences people’s perception of women and people of color. This does shape how I make decisions, but at the end of the day, I still stay true to myself and the mission of the company.”

To whom do you credit for helping you develop leadership abilities during your career?
“My mother is my biggest influence. She grew up in a war, immigrated to Canada without understanding English, and worked to raise my two brothers and me. That perseverance and grit is something that I admire in her and are leadership attributes that I try to bring into my life every day. No matter how hard things are, I always think about the journey my mom went through and how she ended up thriving as a result.”

What do you think young industry members (those under 40) as a group have to offer that is unique to them?
“The under-40 demographic is experienced enough to be dangerous but not too experienced to be jaded. This balance can help drive change in the industry and pave the path for those after us.”

Which transformations—approach, culture, technology or other—do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“The industry will need to embrace energy transition as one of the most significant wealth-creation opportunities of our generation. It’s a catalyst to review how we currently create energy and then reimagine what is possible.”

Three More Things
  1. Dancing is my favorite pastime.
  2. I can play the drums.
  3. I have a dog grooming certificate because I had dreams of being a dog groomer one day, but that career hasn’t really panned out.