Perspectives: Grace Hurley Fosdick, Nabors: Investing in diversity of thought is key to industry’s success

Grace Hurley Fosdick is co-chairing the IADC Young Professionals Committee this year. Potential projects under consideration include facilitating cross-functional development for YPs, as well as starting a “Lunches with Leaders” program.

By Linda Hsieh, Editor & Publisher

Grace Hurley Fosdick knows that she doesn’t fit the “typical” profile of a drilling industry professional. She’s a woman. She’s a Millennial. She comes from Florida and a family without connection to oil and gas. And she was an English Literature major at the University of Miami – not exactly a natural path into an oil and gas career. “I was one of those people who thought my only interaction with energy was when I put gas in my car,” she recalled.

But in many ways, Mrs Fosdick – and other young professionals like her – are the future of this industry. They might not have a petroleum engineering background, but they bring a plethora of other skills like critical thinking, communication, relationship building and problem solving, all of which the industry needs to evolve and improve in the years and decades ahead.

Perhaps more importantly, having someone like her at the table adds to a company’s diversity of thought. Drilling and E&P companies alike are increasingly recognizing the value that can be created by cultivating such diversity among their workforce.

“We have an amazing breadth of engineering expertise in our industry – petroleum, software, mechanical, electrical – but companies can miss pieces of the puzzle if they don’t have people who are looking at it from a different way,” said Mrs Fosdick, who currently serves as Global Marketing Manager for Drilling and Drilling Solutions at Nabors. “It’s not just about whether a technology will work on a technical level, because something can technically work but still fail. If you don’t have people who are helping to point out the gaps, it could lead to very costly mistakes down the road.”

‘There’s no one better poised to tackle the climate challenges that we’re facing’

Entering the oil and gas industry wasn’t always part of Mrs Fosdick’s career plans. After graduating college in 2013, she initially chose to work for Morgan Stanley, attracted by the company’s culture. “They were very involved in lifting up their people and their community,” she said, noting company-funded initiatives like sending employees to read to children at city summer camps, encouraging volunteer work at the food bank and holiday gift drives. “I think a lot of young people consider community involvement when choosing where they want to work. It’s important to see that the company cares about their community.”

Later, when life brought her to Houston, it was again culture that influenced her career path. As she was going through the MBA program at Rice University, she saw that most of the students were people who were already working in the energy industry. “I think I recognized that there must be something special happening in all these oil and gas companies because they had so many young, bright and talented people, and the companies were investing in these employees’ futures by sending them to Rice.”

So when one of her classmates, who was working for Nabors, recommended that Mrs Fosdick apply for an opening on his team, she quickly agreed and soon joined as Senior Business Analyst.

Whatever misconceptions she had about this industry were soon dispelled once she got involved. “My image of oil and gas was that people get in, make a lot of money and then leave, but that’s not the case at all,” she said. “I’ve met so many people just at Nabors who have been in oil and gas their whole lives, or people whose parents did it or their grandparents did it. They’re in this industry because they love what they do, and they love their community.”

She’s also come to realize that this is the industry to be in if you want to impact climate change and sustainability. “With the energy challenges that the world faces right now, only energy can fix them. There’s this idea that new companies will come in and disrupt everything, but there’s no one better poised to tackle the climate challenges that we’re facing. Without the energy industry, there is no solution.”

Industry offers myriad opportunities for YPs

As a young professional in the drilling industry, Mrs Fosdick said she’s loved all the opportunities she’s been given to learn about different functions within the organization, rather than being silo’ed into a narrow career path. In particular, she’s grateful to have been selected for a mentorship program where she received one-on-one coaching from two Nabors executives. “It’s a huge investment from leaders to select and develop young professionals within their organization – especially those who might not fit within a traditional role in drilling,” she said. “That was a very formative experience for me.”

In addition to her marketing role at Nabors, Mrs Fosdick also co-chairs a subcommittee under the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, which was formed last year. “That’s very close to my heart, first because I’m a young woman in the industry, but also because we’re investing in diversity of thought. I’m really proud to participate in this group.” DC

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