ALLY Introduces the Top Energy Voices of 2020

Written by:

Katie Mehnert

When LinkedIn recently announced its Top Voices of the year across more than a dozen industries, our immediate reaction was: Hey, what about energy? The industry that powers all others is filled with exceptional leaders who are introducing new, challenging ideas and sparking important conversations about the future.

So we got to work. Welcome to our first list of Top Energy Voice of the year!

As the social community for the energy transition, ALLY believes it's important we spotlight leaders in the c-suite, sustainability, and financial markets who are shaping the future.  To honor these #TopEnergyVoices, we are highlighting some quotes from their articles, talks, interviews and more from 2020.

Congratulations to everyone who charted new terrain amid a very challenging year. 

Hundreds more people could have made this list. We encourage you to tell us who your voices in energy are and why. This year we organized these voices into three categories: the investment community, c-suite, and sustainability. In alphabetical order, we congratulate the following voices and encourage you to use your voice as an energy ally.

Voices in Energy Markets

Markets worldwide are screaming for change as ESG (environment, sustainability, and governance) becomes central to how companies steward access to capital. Energy shareholder activism has increased significantly in 2020 while the incoming Biden administration is planning to pump trillions into Americas energy transition. These voices are shaping the financial conversation.

#EFT, Energy Financial Twitter (FinTwit) is a social force in the investment community. Many are energy company insiders, investors, and activists that prefer to remain anonymous. #EFT provokes conversations, parody, and draws attention to important investment developments.  Most recently, the community raised an impressive $185,000 to help US oilfield workers during the holidays.

A frequent speaker Holmes is known for her sharp takes on all the issues affecting energy capital markets, sustainability and governance. When we turned to her recently for predictions about 2021, she offered,

Hillary H Holmes - Partner, Gibson Dunn

“ESG will become even more relevant to companies’ access to capital. Even more so than in the last few years, responsiveness to investor standards will be critical to make oil and gas industry companies eligible for broad investment and shareholder support.”

Hillary H Holmes - Partner, Gibson Dunn & Chair Capital Markets Practice | United States

Dan Pickering - Founder, Pickering Energy Partners 

A top expert in the field for conventional energy investment, Pickering also gave us his prediction for 2021 on energy prices and the transition.

The energy transition will continue to gain traction “as public sentiment remains supportive, U.S. corporations make further commitments toward a lower carbon future and the Biden administration and states begin to clarify their advocacy for green energy and renewables,” he said.

Dan Pickering - Founder and CIO, Pickering Energy Partners | United States

Pickering is also betting on EV infrastructure for fleets as he recently announced a partnership.

See the Holmes and Pickering web event replay on ESG: Is it for real?

Jigar Shah - Clean Energy Investor, Generate Capital

With over 700,000 followers on LinkedIN, Shah commands a solid audience on climate and clean energy investments. This ex-BP executive who founded SunEdison in 2003 expects 75% of all new electricity generation to be clean energy in 2020.

In his March article, Shah argued that it’s “time to upgrade our gas stations.” For starters, he wrote, “add a fast charger” and “replace most existing gasoline pumps with blender pumps.” In addition, “replace all fuel oil and propane heating with cleaner alternatives. We should also replicate a better version of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard legislation across the country to decarbonize our transportation fuel.”

Jigar Shah, Clean Energy Investor and Founder, Generate Capital | United States

Voices in the Energy C-Suite

With only 11% of the c-suite in energy on social media, we wanted to applaud these leaders for their compassion, engagement and social connectivity. Some energy executives are reluctant to use social media. But these leaders see it differently.

Reem Al-Ghanim - Head of HR & Support Services, Chemicals, Saudi Aramco

A global influencer, Al-Ghanim is at the forefront of driving a cultural transformation in the Middle East, bringing women into the energy industry. In this feature, she speaks about her parents who encouraged her to use her voice to make change happen.

“They taught me that when challenged, to have a plan, think more broadly, and look for solutions. I’ve always been naturally curious about behavior and how we make decisions as human beings, so I observed and read a lot, mostly about psychology, human traits and what makes people different and unique.” 

Reem Al-Ghanim - Head of HR & Support Services, Chemicals, Saudi Aramco | Saudi Arabia

I had the chance to celebrate with Rheem earlier this year and speak at the International Petroleum Technology Conference, where it was held for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

Gaurdie Banister 2020 Top Voice of Energy ALLY

Gaurdie Banister – Director, Dow and former CEO, Aera Energy 

In a conversation with me on “How Black lives matter in energy,” Banister delivered a powerful message.

“We have reached an inflection point in society where everybody has said enough is enough, that we have got to find a way to drive racial equality in America. And my commentary to my business colleagues is: Don’t believe this is only out on the streets. Don’t believe that this only involves police brutality. There are issues that people face every day when they come to work.”

Gaurdie Banister, Director, DOW and former CEO, Aera Energy | United States

John Berger - Founder and CEO, Sunnova Energy Corporation

Despite the looming COVID19 crisis, Sunnova weathered the storm and is hiring, unlike many other energy companies.

"Solar is growing faster than anything else in the energy business,” Berger said in a November event for the Greater Houston Partnership. “From lawyers to electricians, marketing, engineers, and IT, we need a lot of different skill sets to grow the business."

John Berger, Founder and CEO, Sunnova Energy

Paula Glover - President and CEO, American Association of Blacks in Energy and incoming President, Alliance to Save Energy

Paula and I authored this piece for MIT Sloan Management Review about how to invite workplace dialogue about race.

“We have to be fearless,” she told the crowd at our Energy 2.0 Summit, in discussing what it takes to build inclusion. “We are going to have to speak truth to power. We have to be exceptional listeners. We have to be empathetic and patient… But we have to do this.”

Paula Glover - President and CEO, AABE and incoming President, Alliance to Save Energy | United States

Paula Gold-Williams – CEO, CPS Energy

As the nation’s only African-American female energy CEO, Gold-Williams runs the largest municipally owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service. In a March video, she showed crucial leadership as the pandemic was setting in.

“All of our people are working hard to be safe -- we are not shaking hands, we’re practicing social distancing,” she said. Gold-Williams also assured customers that the company was halting disconnections and doing all it could to help. “This is our community and we're going to band together to do what we need to do.”

Paula Gold-Williams, CEO, CPS Energy | United States

Åshild Larsen, CIO and SVP of IT, Equinor 

Ashild spends a fair amount of her social time celebrating the intersection of equity and technology. Earlier this year she spoke of a need for us to all become digital ninjas in this web event while under lockdown.

“Inclusion is embracing and driving a culture where all can bring their whole self to work, have  their voices heard, and be able to share their ideas and perform at their best,” Larsen wrote in an ALLY article. She also emphasized the importance of a “willingness and ability to change and to actively look for and appreciate people and views that differ from our own.” 

Ashild Larsen. CIO and SVP of IT, Equinor | Norway

Bernard Looney - CEO, BP 

bp chief Bernard Looney took the helm earlier this year and has taken "social CEO" to a whole new level. Celebrating the Pope’s recent call for inclusive capitalism, Looney wrote,

“I am proud to play my part in this, and together, we hope to leave the world a much more fair, inclusive and sustainable place than we found it. That means making some real change. bp alongside other founding members, has pledged its commitment through several measurable actions."

Bernard Looney - CEO, bp | United Kingdom

Tracy Lothian - SVP LNG, ExxonMobil 

Lothian, who was named Petroleum Economist Energy Leader of the Year spoke about how recycling inspired her as a child to get into the industry.

“I am dedicated to creating a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable energy future,” she wrote in a post after being shortlisted for the award. Lothian is the co-creator of Power Play, which is designed “to help women make connections across the gas to power value chain in order to get more deals done.”

Tracy Lothian, SVP LNG, ExxonMobil | Singapore

Rhonda Morris ALLY 2020 Top Energy Voice

Rhonda Morris - VP and CHRO, Chevron

In addition to her work to make Chevron a welcoming, inclusive place to people of all backgrounds and perspectives, Morris wrote about why she launched a new interview series called Leading in the B-Suite.

“Conversations about race and racism, especially in business, are uncomfortable for a lot of people. Our goal is to help make those conversations less uncomfortable by simply having the conversations, perhaps making it easier for others to start them, as well.”  

Rhonda Morris, VP and CHRO, Chevron

David Reid ALLY 2020 Top Energy Voice

David Reid - CTO and CMO, NOV

Reid has become an outspoken activist in the fight to stop sex trafficking.

“Today we achieved the unachievable in a 2 month period,” he posted on LinkedIn in October, “an in-person conference with spacing, temp checks, masks, surveys and an amazing location…  Together we showed the world that small efforts and big impact can happen. RedM The Movement moved. And we found a way to raise up the stories of rescue, recovery and real lives returned to the community after being sex trafficked.”

David Reid - CTO and CMP, NOV | United States

Lorenzo Simonelli - Chairman and CEO, Baker Hughes 

In a column on why World Quality Day is critical to the future of energy, Simonelli wrote: 

“Not only are we facing new ways of working due to COVID-19, but many of us across the energy industry have accelerated our plans for a net-zero emissions future. Quality is critical to making these plans a safe and long-lasting reality.”

Lorenzo Simonelli - Chairman and CEO, Baker Hughes | United Kingdom

Gretchen Watkins 2020 Top Energy Voice

Gretchen Watkins - President and Country Chair, Shell US

In a piece in October, Watkins explained why Shell supports the Environmental Defense Fund and other entities in fighting to keep methane regulations in place.

“America can’t tackle climate change if it doesn’t tackle leaks of methane – a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide… Our view is that any methane emissions across the industry hurt both the environment and our business.”

Gretchen Watkins, President and Country Chair, Shell US

Voices in Energy Sustainability 

Sustainability is an important part of energy. The energy transition is a huge economic opportunity to bridge equity and environment. These sustainability champions bring a voice to shape the changing energy narrative, policy, innovation, and the workforce.

Sara Al-Hinai - Field Engineer, Halliburton

The first woman drilling fluids engineer for BP in Oman, Al-Hinai was profiled by Energy Oman Magazine. In the interview, she said,

“Our energy leaders are realizing that to have a successful, innovative environment we need to let go of biases and encourage females to take on challenging roles. This diversity can eventually become the norm in the future, and we can build a better, more advanced society which in turn will improve our economy,” she says. 

Sara Al-Hinai - Field Engineer, Halliburton | Oman

Mervin Azeta - Product & Service Delivery Manager, Schlumberger 

In addition to her work for Schlumberger in Nigeria and West Africa, Azeta describes herself as an intersectional advocate and radical learner. The Society of Professional Engineers named her an “energy influencer” this year. In an interview with Petroleum Economist, she explained,

“To adapt to the evolving demands of the energy transition and fourth industrial revolution, it is imperative that the industry attracts the right people, with the right enthusiasm, knowledge and skills. These talents are not limited to a gender, geography, or race.”

Mervin Azeta, Product & Service Delivery Manager, Schlumberger, Nigeria

Jeff Bridges - Actor, Activist

Wesley Clark - General (ret.) and Founder, Renew America Together

Together, these two heavyweights have become important voices in the energy transition with the release of the documentary Living in the Future’s Past. Bridges narrates; Clark shares insight throughout. 

They joined me in conversation at Energy 2.0 (skip ahead to the 5-hour mark). Bridges said that after his wife made a remark about us living in a “corpocracy,” he had a realization.

“A lightbulb went off… maybe since corporations are so powerful, let’s go directly to the corporations. Our federal government certainly has a role in affecting our environment, but we can’t just wait for those guys to get with the program. We can go right to the corporations themselves, and they can make a huge difference.”

Jeff Bridges | "The Dude" | Actor and Activist | United States

Clark, a one-time presidential candidate, noted,

“Climate change and the problem of global warming, how we transition our economy -- it’s a huge national security problem.” Highlighting the optimism that these problems can be solved, he added, “We’ve got so much potential in technology. We’ve got so much room to grow.”

Wesley Clark ,General (ret.) and Founder, Renew America Together | United States

Daniel Kammen  - Energy Professor and Chaoir, UC Berkeley 

A former science envoy to the U.S. State Department and a lead author on various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Kammen was spoke at the virtual summit Clean Energy for Biden: Building Back Better.

Discussing offshore wind, he explained that it’s “the largest untapped source of clean energy, with a path to 80,000 jobs by 2025… Day one, the president could issue an executive order permitting 5,000 megawatts by 2025, 30,000 megawatts by 2030 -- that would be enough to power 11 million homes. There would be an immediate return of $2 billion in leases to the federal government and $17 billion injected to the economy by 2025.”

Dr. Daniel Kammen, Energy Professor and Chair, UC Berkeley | United States

Melanie Kenderdine - Principal, Energy Futures Initiative & C3E Ambassador

In an event earlier this year, Kenderdine explained why there must be a big focus on jobs across the energy sector to help lift the economy out of the COVID-19 crisis and downturn.

“Energy jobs, in spite of increased efficiency, etc., are growing at a much faster rate than jobs in the general economy, which is why we believe going forward, we need to focus on energy jobs to get us out of the economic hole that we’re now in. Hugely important.”

Melanie Kenderdine | Principal, Energy Futures Initiative and C3E Ambassador | United States

Charli K. Matthews - Founder & CEO, Empowering Brands

“Communication, our voice, is one of the most valuable tools we have in the toolbox,” Matthews wrote in an article. “I understand now the value of communications and how much our community needs media to share stories where the world can understand them. It is also our job to use our voice to share the hard stories and to let leadership know when something is important to our industry.”

Deb Ryan - Senior Manager, Engineering, Sproule

A speaker at Energy 2.0 Colorado, Ryan called on the energy industry to better communicate its message. “We as an oil and gas industry are not good advocates for what we do,” she said.

“That conversation is starting to change.” Ryan also emphasized that contrary to common assumptions, many energy companies are committed to the environment. At her company in Colorado, “We do everything we can to make sure that the community we live in -- that we reduce and make sure that we are doing things without noise and without emissions, because we love the state,” she said.

Deb Ryan - Senior Manager, Engineering, Sproule | United States

Leslie Shockley Beyer – President, PESA 

“The energy ecosystem is in transition, yes,” Beyer wrote in one post. “But not away from oil and gas. On the contrary, the American oil and gas industry will play a critical role in the transition to a lower-carbon future. We aren’t going anywhere. We have to work together to power the US economy with cleaner, reliable, and affordable energy.”

Leslie Shockley-Beyer, President, PESA | United States

In addition to speaking out in the media, Beyer -- who has served as a panelist for us -- also launched a podcast this year called Energy in Transition.  

Who were your Top Energy Voices of 2020?

Weigh in below in the comments and share your voice.

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