Nicholas Carnrite

Partner and Managing Director, The Carnrite Group, London

Both professionally and personally, family comes first for Nicholas Carnrite. Since his father worked in the oil and gas business, he grew up surrounded by the industry. He eventually made it his own, guided by the support of his father, brother and wife.

 “I have learned about leadership primarily by observing the people around me. People like my wife, my dad, my brother and my colleagues,” he said. “[My dad] has worked hard for 40 years, built a successful company, maintained a family culture at our company, and done things the right way. For many of those years, he was a single parent to my brother and I since we lost my mom to cancer when I was seven years old. I honestly cannot imagine achieving what he has been able to achieve given the circumstances.”

Carnrite moved to London with his wife, Kasey, in 2020 to help expand The Carnrite Group, of which he serves as partner and managing director.

Hooked from a young age

“I grew up in the oil and gas industry. My dad has always had a passion for, and built a lot of friendships in, the industry. Our family had the normal dinner table conversations, but we also talked about the industry – oil prices, the latest merger, or an executive who had moved from one company to another. Despite these roots, I didn’t really know that I wanted to work in the industry. To be honest, I’m not sure I knew what I wanted to do in general. However, I appreciated the fact that civilization cannot function without this industry. That was enough to make me want to check it out. We get the opportunity to help our clients solve incredibly interesting and complex problems, with a great group of people and a level of executive exposure that is hard to find. Almost immediately after starting with The Carnrite Group, I was hooked. Here we are over a decade later."

Ambitious goals

“As a business owner it is hard to separate my personal career goals from my goals for our company. My goal, and the goal of our company, is to be viewed as an active partner and trusted advisor to our clients. Part of our ethos is that we legitimately care about our clients – both personally and professionally. Everything else will follow if we do these seemingly simple tasks successfully.

My primary near-term goal is to scale our Europe and Middle East businesses, which are anchored by offices in London and Abu Dhabi. I am in the process of building core teams of diverse and talented individuals that are capable of selling consulting engagements and helping clients solve complex problems. Eventually, I’d like our company to continue to move further East. I see a lot of interesting activity in our sector in southeast Asia, and it is a goal of mine to build a permanent presence in the region once Europe and Middle East are fully operational.

Longer-term, my goal is to remain agile enough to recognize this is an industry that is constantly evolving. In my career we have seen two inflection points. Prior to 2014, most of our work was to help companies grow. We optimized field development planning processes, re-tooled organization structures and built manufacturing approaches for drilling and completions. Then prices crashed. We spent much of the next five years helping companies salvage underwater investments, restructure and flatten their organizations, attack the supply chain and reduce costs across their operations. 2020 felt like another inflection point, with the focus now on consolidation, digitally enabled business transformation, the Energy Transition and re-energizing employees. Our service offerings have changed considerably – we’ll need to remain agile and ensure we’re positioned to help our clients address their greatest needs."

Long-term developments

“The industry has a critical role to play in meeting global energy demand. Oil and gas are not going anywhere any time soon. However, the industry must evolve, and doing so will require the creation of entirely new business models. As an example, carbon capture and storage (CCS) businesses will look very different than how we run an oil asset. There are not many examples in history of industries successfully disrupting themselves. Barnes & Noble didn’t create Amazon, Blockbuster Video didn’t create Netflix… the list goes on and on. That is the task we have ahead of us as an industry, and in the process the established players will need to compete with fast-moving new entrants. We’re going to need the innovation and creative thinking of our young industry members. We can be sure that new entrants will be able to attract new young people – we’ll need to do the same if we’re going to compete and win.

We also need to move much more quickly. It’s a difficult challenge for an industry built to manage risk. We’ve seen a lot of the industry make significant progress, particularly as both costs and people came out of the system over the past five years, but we’re still objectively slow compared to the newer entrants with whom we’ll be competing as the energy mix continues to evolve. We’ll need to be able to build and sustain an operating model that facilitates and rewards speed, innovation and a “fail forward” mentality, while also putting in place the guardrails required to manage the risks that matter most."

Sage advice

“My dad, Al Carnrite [is my mentor]. Professionally, the best advice he has given me is to never try to ‘sell’ our clients. Our job is to build and maintain relationships, care about people, help where we can, challenge our clients to reach the right outcomes, try to work harder than those around us and refuse to accept mediocrity. If we do these things well, business outcomes will follow."

Three More Things

  1. One of our London-based colleagues, Aidan Joy, passed away unexpectedly on July 29, 2021. He was an amazing husband, father, friend, colleague and mentor. Aidan was an irreplaceable member of our team, and my colleagues and I are grateful for the time we had together.
  2. My wife, Kasey, also works in the oil and gas industry. She is talented, passionate, beautiful and caring. She pushes me when I need it, listens when I’m stressed or upset, and supportive throughout all the ups and downs that come with being a business owner. [She is] the perfect human for me.
  3. It takes a village. I have been successful because of the phenomenal team we have assembled at The Carnrite Group. It’s a privilege and an honor to work with you all.