Heather Manning, Senior Director of Corporate Finance, Frank’s International, is a participant in the Council’s Executive Leadership Program. She recently shared her insights on the energy services and technology sector.
COUNCIL: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
HEATHER MANNING: I’m a senior leader of the finance department responsible for our Corporate Accounting, SEC Reporting, Treasury and Shared Services groups. I also support our CFO on strategic initiatives and special projects. This past year we implemented a new enterprise resource planning system and are currently focused on merger integration activities. While my focus areas often vary, I would say a typical day includes problem solving, connecting people and information, and making sure my team has what they need to be successful.
COUNCIL: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?
HM: I moved into oil and gas from a large professional services firm. Many of my clients were in the industry, SOX compliance was a new concept, and public companies needed people who understood business processes and internal controls to manage through the changing regulatory environment. I was drawn by the challenge of helping a company that had been around for decades build the formal processes needed in today’s public companies.
COUNCIL: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?
HM: I’ve been lucky to have several mentors — most were informal, some people I wanted to model, and others who helped me see what I didn’t want for myself. I like to learn from everyone — you never know how someone else’s perspective might guide you down a different path.
COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
HM: I’ve worked for two companies in the industry. Both started as family businesses and have had loyal, long-tenured employees. It was not uncommon to find children and grandchildren who were also employees. Whether it be the demands on public companies, or the changing expectations of younger generations, that type of dynamic between employee and employer has faded.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
HM: The industry is still heavily dominated by men. While that doesn’t surprise me, I do think we have opportunities to be more inclusive. There aren’t many women in leadership positions, and in 2021 it’s still not uncommon for me to be in a meeting with a room full of men.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
HM: If 2020 has taught us anything, agility and adaptability will be key for any company to be successful in the future. Companies in our industry will need to continue advancing technology and automation, responding to environmental and sustainability concerns, and finding ways to be profitable in a tight market.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
HM: I’d like to equip the business to pivot in the most effective ways possible — to be nimble and agile no matter what challenges come our way.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
HM: I was introduced to the Council through my current employer when I was recommended for the Executive Leadership program. I’ve been impressed by the quality of the program — with networking, coaching and mentorship opportunities. The program has challenged me to consider where I want to be in my career while giving me the tools to get there.
COUNCIL: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
HM: Matt Ralls was the former CEO and Chairman at Rowan Companies. Matt always acted with integrity, and he did a great job of establishing that tone from the top. When there was conflict between different departments, Matt would remind folks that people generally want to do a good job, and if you open the lines of communication, you will have a better perspective of the challenges the other person is facing to be able to identify a solution together. When we remove the “us vs. them” thinking we can accomplish so much more.
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the energy services and technology sector that impressed you?
HM: Early in my career I worked for WilTel communications and learned how pipelines were being repurposed for communication — I was impressed with how people think outside the box. At Frank’s, we’re known for technology, and we’re continuing to introduce tools that improve safety by removing the need for people in higher risk activities. I think that kind of outside-the-box thinking can have a positive impact on how others think about our industry.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
HM: With so much focus on ESG, younger generations are hesitant to work in the oil and gas industry because they are uncertain what the future holds. At the same time, there are so many opportunities as older generations reach retirement age. I would encourage others to embrace those opportunities, and not only be prepared for change, but be the driver of that change.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
HM: Oil and gas provide so much more than energy. There are more than 6,000 byproducts of crude oil, including heart valves, hearing aids, contact lenses, toothpaste and deodorant. Googling “oil byproducts” will give you many sites with additional examples of everyday items available because of our industry.
COUNCIL: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
HM: Sailing away on a cruise ship with my husband; getting to experience different activities and cultures each day, without the hassle of “traveling” from one location to another. And there’s no cooking or cleaning. It’s a perfect relaxing get-away with so many options to enjoy.
COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
HM: I worked at Arthur Andersen during the Enron era — had my computer, files, etc. confiscated by the lawyers. That was an interesting experience that also gave me a completely different perspective on the media.