Energy leader and marathoner Geeta Thakorlal on the will to finish

Written by:

Josh Levs

People who have run all six “majors” say the New York City Marathon is one of the toughest, according to Marathon Handbook. But when the idea came up to create a team that would enter this November’s race together, Worley executive Geeta Thakorlal knew she was in. 

In fact, Geeta is helping lead the effort, with Worley joining TCS and ALLY Energy as sponsors. The team of 50 members are “women executives and allies focused on the future of sustainability and the personal goal of completing the TCS New York City Marathon,” she explained on LinkedIn. “Both the marathon and net zero are no small task and require a marathon mindset to achieve. And we are ready.”

Geeta began running in marathons years ago as a way of driving herself to “push the limits,” she says. But it’s been ten years since her last one.


Picking back up is daunting.

“I need to condition myself a lot more, before and after, and it takes longer,” she says now, with a smile. But, she adds, “I love how it challenges you and makes you put a strong mind over matter. That gets you over it.”

The willingness to take on big challenges is a hallmark of her career and one that's helped make her a leader in energy. It’s no surprise that Women We Admire named her one of the Top 50 Women Leaders in Houston for 2023.

Originally from Fiji, Geeta was working as a risk consultant in London when the deadliest offshore rig in history took place in 1988, the Piper Alpha disaster. She was part of a team that provided expert advice on the incident. She went on to work with Step Change in Safety, which “was launched with the ambitious target of improving the entire industry’s safety performance by 50%,” she says. (The organization said that goal was achieved in 2004.)

Geeta stayed in the energy sector, which she describes as “dynamic and always evolving.” She joined Worley, a leading global provider of professional services, project delivery, and asset management solutions in the energy, chemicals, and resources sectors. The company is committed to delivering a more sustainable world.

Geeta worked her way up the ranks, becoming president of Intecsea, the global deepwater division of Worley; president of energy transition and digital; and executive group director of information and digital delivery. In July, she took on a new role. Geeta is now the executive group director leading an internal initiative to reimagine the future of project delivery by leveraging advanced and emerging technologies such as generative AI. This work includes creating alternative business and commercial models to deliver a step change in business outcomes and shareholder returns.


‘You have to have the will’

The energy transition is underway, and even those who tried to block progress in the past now see the writing on the wall, Geeta says. “To transition from fossil to non-fossil, low carbon fuels, we need to pivot to new forms of energy. That requires different strategies.” 

Those strategies also have to keep changing as new technologies are developed and new needs arise. “There are lots of hurdles to overcome, whether political, financial, technical, social, of course environmental -- it’s all of that. You need to have multiple strategies and also learn to change, because you may learn that certain things don’t meet the criteria to get to that outcome.”

To her, all this makes working for the energy transition similar to running a marathon.

“You can’t just put on your shoes and run,” she says. “You need a plan, strategies, and a long-term commitment. You have to put the miles in.” 

And while you have to prepare for the challenges you can expect, you also have to be ready to “adapt depending on the conditions, like how the weather turns on the day of the race. But the mindset is: You have to have the will that regardless of what comes up, you will finish the race.”

That's a mentality she seeks to instill at Worley as well. “In the world that I work in, we have to understand all the factors -- some are in your control, some are not. There are the company’s goals and the goals of customers, but also of society and the communities we serve. You have to be able to pivot. It’s all about perseverance and endurance.”


The value of networks

In preparing for a marathon, help from people with expertise like trainers and strength coaches can be instrumental. Similarly, people with a wide array of expertise can play a vital role in the energy transition. This is why it’s so important to bring people from disparate parts of the energy sector together into a single community to build solutions, Geeta says. “I think it’s really important to get everybody on the journey.”

Networks also provide a sense of community that helps spur you on when you’re feeling most exhausted. To keep going and pushing yourself, “You need a support system all around you,” Geeta says. “Networks like ALLY Energy are really important.”

Big thanks to the title sponsor, TCS for supporting this high-energy network of leaders taking on the five bridge course in November.  Join us by supporting the team and our chosen charity, The Energy Project.

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