Christine Healy, CEO of Total E&P Canada, has an inspiring story for young people who aren't sure exactly what they want to do with their professional lives. “I never had a plan,” she says.
Through hard work, discovering her passion for an industry, pursuing opportunities, and taking ones that came along, she built a successful career across three countries on two continents -- and rose to become one of all too few women to hold a CEO title in oil and gas.
Christine, who will speak at The Energy 2.0 Forum in Houston on March 10, says it started with
an early willingness to leave a field that didn’t excite her. “I studied
economics in university, but then decided I was unhappy with economics, and
went to study law.”
Her early legal work led to involvements with energy companies,
which in turn led to a government job helping draw industry to the Canadian
province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Through that, my job evolved into negotiating with oil and gas
companies that wanted to develop projects in Canada,” she says. “It was fun
work. I was leading a negotiating team for a couple of years. I so enjoyed the
industry and what it was doing that I wanted to be a part of it.”
What was it she enjoyed so much? “Our industry is fueled by ideas.
They’re how massive multi-million dollar projects come to life.”
Christine moved to the private sector, becoming a manager with
Statoil. Just over two years later, when a VP position became available, she
decided to go for it. “It was a pretty open job process. The positions were
posted so anyone could apply. I thought it would be interesting to spread my
She was selected, and became Vice President of Exploration --
which meant a move to Houston. “We settled into a great life,” she says.
Her husband Craig was able to continue his career with an
engineering company as well. Later when Maersk hired Christine to become Chief
Strategy Officer and General Counsel based in Copenhagen, “We decided to take
the adventure,” Christine says. Craig “quit his job to support me and our
family. He was home full time -- and he still is at home full time. It’s been
great.” They have two sons.
When Total bought out Maersk, Christine was asked to run
operations in Canada. “To be able to come back to my home country was an
unexpected treat,” she says. (Though she does miss Houston, particularly in the
Paying it forward
Along the way, Christine says, she has worked to build
opportunities for other women in the energy sector.
“It’s still the case that you go into a lot of boardrooms and it
tends to be mainly men,” she says. “But I think that’s changing. Fundamentally,
our industry needs the best talent -- and the best talent comes from the
deepest pool. I have benefited from mentors and supporters, both men and women,
in my career. Now, it’s my turn to try to pay that forward.”
She’s involved in TWICE (Total Women's Initiative
for Communication and Exchange), “a group of women supporting women” inside the
company. She also works to foster an environment in which people can speak out
without fear that doing so will negatively impact their careers, she says.
“I also mentor and support wherever I can. And I challenge my
teams to make sure that when they’re hiring, they’re looking broadly. I don’t
think there’s ever a good reason to not have a diverse slate of candidates.”
Hear from Christine Healy at The Energy 2.0 Forum, in person or
online. Visit energy2dot0.com.