Benoit Chambert-Loir, Global Key Account Manager – Oilfield Services, Vallourec, is a participant in the Council’s Executive Leadership Program. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.
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?
BENOIT CHAMBERT-LOIR: I studied engineering out of curiosity about technology. My first industrial internship — with a gas power plant maintenance crew in Argentina — got me into the energy industry for good. I have continued my journey since with that same appetite for differentiated technologies.
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?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: At Vallourec, benevolent management is a core value. Our top managers have at heart knowing each leader and manager in the group, and HR talent management is a reality.
For three years, one of our SVPs has been sponsoring a collaborative project I lead, and he offered me regular one-to-one meetings. He’s involved without managing. He guides and advises as we move forward or encounter pitfalls. The C-level view elevated our team’s perspective and fundamentally changed the way I now address situations and stakeholders.
COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: The industry I joined was organized, hierarchical and heavy. I saw it transform into a more technologic and diverse industry: LEAN and 6-Sigma reshaped our shopfloors, digital keeps revolutionizing our technology, and diversity enriches our teams. Our organizations have become more collaborative across divisions and activities. Leaders have replaced bosses, facilitating ideation, autonomy and the speed of execution.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: The speed of change. Our industry — and the organizations I’ve worked in — never stop evolving. Crisis after bubble after reorganization, we demonstrate capacity to constantly innovate, adapt and evolve.
The crisis last year was a good example of resilience, and the energy transition is an even better one. Most were expecting our sector to deny and resist the transition, but energy companies are leading the technological developments essential to drive the future of energy.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: While a large part of our legacy activity will remain vital, the energy transition is an urgent demand. One part of our industry will keep improving efficiency and the social impact of our legacy operations. And in five years, the conceptual technologies we hear about today will be in wide deployment.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: I’m a business developer in energy, and I am resolutely engaged in the energy transition. My ambition is to act as a catalyst between technology companies; to build collaborative environments where engineers will develop solutions responding to social, industrial, and commercial dilemmas.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: The Council has been a place to learn fast and from multiple contexts. It really helps provide the broader picture. Leadership forums are inspiring, and that’s how I met Marco Caccavale, Baker Hughes, who later invited me to join the Energy Transition Committee. My participation in the Council gave me increased exposure outside and inside my organization.
COUNCIL: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: Brian Kiep and Adrian Davis, with SAMA. Their approach to value co-creation in strategic collaborations transformed my perception of business development.
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in energy services that impressed you?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: Augmented workers using helmets equipped with cameras and micro screens for live communications. This was deployed last year to accelerate remote technical support and inspections. On a similar note, I was also excited by inspection solutions using air and submarine drones.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the energy industry?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: Get your boots on the ground and have fun. Watch and learn from experts as you build experience. Do not give up on ideas until you are convinced. And dedicate time to sit and think.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: The oil and gas and petrochemical industries are part of our everyday life: cars, clothes, electronic, even food. The energy transition is a necessity. The oil and gas workforce drives it with technology to meet society’s energy needs and expectations for global carbon neutrality.
COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact people would never guess about you?
CHAMBERT-LOIR: I used to be a magician, touring in bars and clubs until my late twenties.