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High-Performer Spotlight: Simao Silva, Oceaneering

Simao Silva, Global Account Director, Oceaneering, is a member of the Council’s Emerging Executives Committee. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.

COUNCIL: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?

Simao Silva: As a Global Account Director, I am responsible for various aspects of business with our major customers. One significant responsibility is to ensure a successful partnership that adds value to both clients and Oceaneering, through solid operational and financial performance. A typical day includes time with key people inside the customer organization, understanding their main challenges, as well as collecting feedback with details on current project performance. The remainder of the day focuses on connecting the dots, developing creative value-added solutions to address their challenges, and acting on customer guidance.

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?

SS: In Rio de Janeiro, where I started my professional career, the oil and gas industry is the most sought-after field of work. Before Oceaneering, I worked at a company that served different industries such as mining, steel mills, shipyards and the oilfield. So, the natural progression was to enter the offshore space, as it was more fun to work on underwater robots due to the multitude of disciplines required to perform at a high level. These robots, also known as ROVs, are the main thing that attracted me to work in the oil and gas industry, early in my career.

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?

SS: This year completes my twentieth year in the industry. I’ve been fortunate to have mentors and bosses with whom I still have relationships who support my professional development. The one individual that made the most impact has been my wife, Evelyn. She also works in the industry, and over the past decade we have lived in three different countries, have shared many positive experiences, and none of my success would be possible without her support.

COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?

SS: The industry has visibly evolved in areas such as safety and technology solutions. Many subsea interventions we pioneered 15 years ago are now industry standard, and the safety culture is best in class. Still, the most significant change happening now is our industry focus on producing clean oil and gas for growing energy demand. The next decade should bring a lot of excitement with new technologies that enable oil and gas production at a reduced carbon footprint, especially in areas of significant population growth.

COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry? 

SS: Two things come to mind. The first is the resilience and ability of our industry to adapt to commodity cycles while still supplying the world with energy. The other surprise is the huge disparity in how the local population sees the oil and gas industry. While developed countries have healthy discussions about migrating part of the energy supply over time to renewables complemented by responsible hydrocarbon production, other nations believe the oil and gas industry is the key generator of employment and energy, instigating the desire of every young or seasoned professional to have a role in this space to best support their families.

COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?

SS: Our industry has a critical role in supporting the increased need for energy that comes with population growth. It is key that we find a way to develop the reserves and sustainably produce hydrocarbons to meet the objectives of the Paris agreement. The major energy companies seem to be on the right path with diversification of their portfolios to expand cleaner energy sources near developed markets while still investing and creating jobs supporting social progress in underdeveloped nations that need low-cost energy to progress as a civilization.

COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future? 

SS: I’m excited with the pace of change in our industry and will work to lead the transformation required to enable carbon-based and carbon-free energy co-existence. I also aim to continue to engage with educational institutions to inspire the next generation of professionals to learn more about subsea and offshore operations. It would be great to resume travel to Africa, South America, and Asia and continue to see the contrasts compared to the U.S. and Europe, and help bridge the social gap either through awareness or creating new opportunities for development.

COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals? 

SS: I’m new to the Council. I joined my first committee earlier this year, but I can already see the benefits of the knowledge exchange within the group. It is great to hear the different perspectives and meet people who have similar industry roles and interests. I am privileged to be a part of the Council and proud that I have accomplished two of my personal development goals for the year by collaborating with and learning from industry peers.

COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the energy services and technology sector that impressed you?

SS: The remote operation transformation over the past year is impressive. The technology is available for us to transfer to shore several offshore functions and operate them from a computer. The adoption barrier is cultural. This route to remote may be a significant change that will positively impact our industry from safety, cost and carbon footprint reduction perspectives.

COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?

SS: Engage with different people from inside the industry and different regions to gain perspective. There are many challenges involved with bringing production from the subsurface to the consumer, and it requires a vast array of knowledge and skills. You can make a career in any specialization you want while remaining connected with new energy sources and technology.

COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?

SS: It’s a truly global machine that connects, develops people and moves the world. The pace of change in our industry is exponential and requires organizations and professionals to adapt quickly. I encourage people to read about the positive impacts of the oil and gas to nations. A good example is the recent history of Norway and learning about how oil and gas industry enabled them to develop as a nation in just a couple of generations. That’s a case that will help people understand the importance of our industry in developing countries in a continent like Africa.

COUNCIL: What do you do for fun?

SS: Fun should be the largest portion of life. My family and I love to travel and have fun while we learn about geographies and history. While at home we have a blast most weekends accompanied by family and friends, normally grilling some “picanha.” When the weather allows, riding a mountain bike or the motorcycle brings in the extra adrenaline required to have a stress-free life.

COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?

SS: I enjoy rock climbing, although at a more conservative pace today compared to when I was younger. While living in Rio de Janeiro, my favorite climbing spot was the Sugar Loaf Mountain area. I’ve climbed that mountain well over a hundred times.

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