Laurence Fraser, Product and Service Delivery Manager, Surface Production Systems, Schlumberger, is a graduate of the Council’s Inclusion & Diversity Business Champion 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?
Laurence Fraser: I am the Product and Service Delivery Manager for Surface Production Systems at Schlumberger, covering the Western Region of the United States that includes the Permian, Rockies and the California West Coast. In this role, I am responsible for the performance of the business line within the region. This includes overseeing service quality, HSE and operations integrity, as well as managing opportunities and maximizing growth and returns for the business line.
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?
LF: I joined Schlumberger 15 years ago straight after college. Prior to joining Schlumberger, I had two internships with the company while I was still studying, which means I have only ever worked in the oil and gas industry except for my summer jobs selling ice cream on the west cost of France.
My father influenced me to join the energy sector and excelled at nudging me on what the oil and gas industry had to offer. As a contractor in the energy sector, he saw the potential the industry had to offer for decades to come.
Very early in my career, I knew that I made the right decision to join Schlumberger when I was tasked with rolling out what I call a precursor of our digital offering. For instance, while working on a semi-submersible rig in the middle of the Caspian Sea, our customers could be sitting in their office in London and would be able to access their reservoir data in real time. Fifteen years ago, this was a big deal on an exploration well. This made me realize how exciting and challenging my job was, and how even as a very young field engineer I played a key role in helping our customers access the energy that ultimately benefits us all!
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?
LF: Throughout my career I have had several fantastic mentors. There is one trait they all have in common — they deeply care. A good mentor is someone who will make time for you. It is also someone who is willing to have the difficult conversations and provide feedback that may not always be easy to give. That feedback, however, will help the mentee grow.
You will never lose touch with a mentor, even as the years pass. Once a mentor always a mentor.
COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
LF: As I grew up, I always had a very positive impression of the oil and gas industry since my father always spoke very highly of it. I do not think this impression has evolved other than today, more than ever, I am convinced that our industry is a necessity. The world needs energy, and this demand will remain until we can effectively transition to non-fossil fuel sources as the main source of energy.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
LF: The industry is embarking on a digital transformation which was long overdue, a surprise when I joined the company 15 years ago. I am delighted to see that we have embarked that journey. We are actively seeing the benefits that are paving the way to reduced emissions and increasing capital efficiencies.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
LF: I want to see our industry continue and embrace the digital transformation that will ultimately help reduce HSE risks and costs. I also strongly believe this transformation will help us better manage the cyclical nature of our business.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
LF: This is a difficult question! I would say I will continue to drive change and support any initiative and technology that will enable cleaner, safer access to energy.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
LF: In 2020, I was part of the Inclusion & Diversity Business Champion cohort. Meeting with other oil and gas professionals was extremely beneficial to understanding how they approach the topic of diversity and inclusion. Growing diverse organizations is something that can be achieved; however, inclusion is key to sustaining that diverse organization. The Council really opened my eyes on this notion of inclusion.
The Council has helped me be a more inclusive leader. In my role, I ensure that my team members’ ideas count, their contribution is valued and respected, which ultimately drives better business results.
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the energy services and technology sector that impressed you?
LF: Remote operations have become more and more common in our industry. Not only do they reduce costs, but they also enable safer operations. For example, in Schlumberger Canada we worked with a major operator on the deployment of digital drilling solutions that recently enabled them to complete the first fully automated section drilled platform. This really impressed me.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
LF: Be open to accepting all perceptions about our industry, do your research and make up your own mind. The oil and gas industry is a family industry, and if you are looking for a community, you are in the right place! Career and growth opportunities are limitless.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
LF: I wish other people understood why the oil and gas industry is a necessity for the world, that there is no way around it, at least for the foreseeable future. Like every other industry, we are very much aware of climate change and how we, along with everyone else, are playing our part. Sustainability is a necessity too, and is a big part of our business model. The perception of our industry needs to change and will change.
COUNCIL: What do you do for fun?
LF: For fun I do many things, but outdoor activities are by far what I enjoy the most. Depending where I am in the world, you will find me hiking, golfing, road cycling, scuba diving, fishing or skiing.
I also thoroughly enjoy socializing with friends and family over a good meal and good wine. My husband is a great chef, and together we have become foodies!
COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
LF: In 2016, without any training, my husband and I decided to do a hiking tour of Patagonia. We hiked for seven days, six nights — 110km with a backpack each and sleeping in our tiny little tent every night in the most remotes parts of the region.
Little did we know that it rains a lot in Patagonia, and it snows at times at night, even at the end of spring. Moral of the story, preparedness is key, but hey we did it! And it was a memory of a lifetime.