SUT-US Champagne & Conversation Series Edition 5


by Audrey Guzman & Araceli Lopez-Acosta February 26,2020

SUT-US Champagne and Conversation Series
Photo credit: Patsy Rhymes

Houston, TX - The SUT-US Women in Industry Subcommittee (WIND) held the fifth edition of the Champagne & Conversation Series on January 23rd at the Memorial Wine Cellar in Houston, “one of Houston's most appealing hidden gems” according to the Houston Chronicle. The topic of this edition “How it was, How it is, How we want it to be - a Male Perspective” focused on the point of views of male professionals around the issues they have faced in the underwater offshore industry in terms of diversity, mentoring and leadership. In previous editions of the Champagne & Conversation Series, the female perspective had been addressed and the purpose of this recent edition was to diversify the discussion and let the Series followers learn that this is a two way discussion, where both women and men experience these issues.
The guest panelists included offshore energy industry professionals ranging from 1-39 years of experience, and a recently graduated University of Houston engineer who recently joined the workforce. The panelists included : 
  • Amber Sturrock, Strategy and Planning Analyst for the Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Chevron
  • Chuck Miller, Vice President, Stress Engineering Services
  • Daniel Lanier, President, Geoscience Earth and Marine Services
  • Georgiy Madedonov, Former President, SUT-US Student Chapter at University of Houston
  • Nader Matari, Project Manager, FlexSteel Pipeline Technologies, Inc.
  • Shawn Williamson, Well Project Team Leader, BHP Petroleum
  • Thomas Kolanski, VP Business Development, BW Offshore
WIND invited representatives from leading companies that have demonstrated the value of having a diverse enterprise. According to The Society for Human Resource Management, 41% of managers say that they are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives in their company. Ironically, a study conducted by Pew states that 40% of people think there is a double standard against hiring women - both men and women are more likely to hire men over women (Olsen, 2015). Research by McKinsey shows that for every 10% increase in the rate of racial and ethnic diversity on Senior Executive teams, EBIT (an indicator of a company's profitability) rises 0.8% (Hunt, Layton & Prince, 2015). Statistics also show that 83% of millennials are more actively engaged when they believe that their company fosters an inclusive culture. In nearly 10 years, the workforce is predicted to be millennials by 75% (Smith and Turner, 2015). These numbers provide a need to WIND to continue addressing diversity, inclusion, leadership and mentoring issues within the offshore energy industry, and encouraging senior level professionals as well as young professionals to share their experiences and advice for future industry leaders.
SUT-US Champagne and Conversation Series
Culture and diversity have been proven to increase value to a company. The SUT-US Champagne & Conversation Series provides a platform for women and men professionals to learn about how the industry has changed over the past years in terms of diversity and inclusion, and how they vision the industry in years to come. Amber Sturrock from Chevron, as the moderator of this panel explained, “I think it is a very good series, I like that the Society of Underwater Technology is supportive of the WIND group. I think the industry as a whole still has some ways to go with diversity and inclusion and I think the Champagne and Conversation Series definitely helps to educate others on the importance of diversity and inclusion”. Based on her experience from this panel Mrs. Sturrock commented, “all the panelists were of course eager to participate and were able to tell their storay based on their own background and experiences and I think it helped provide a pretty enjoyable panel for the attendees. Everyone was very insightful and very open and it was great to see so many allies for diversity and inclusion within the panelists.”
WIND greatly recognizes the support of Sify eLearning and SumTotal Systems Inc, for sponsoring the 5th Edition of the Champagne & Conversation Series. Their support was essential to the organization of this event.
The first glass of bubbly is always on us, who would you like to hear speak at the next Champagne & Conversation Series Edition 6? What topics do you think are important to address?
Olson, G.E,. (2015). How corporate America is tackling unconscious bias. February 1, 2020, from Fortune website:
Hunt, V., Layton, D. & Prince, S. (2015). Why diversity matters. February 2020, from Mckinsey website:
Smith, C. & Turner, S. (2015). The Radical Transformation of Diversity and Inclusion. February 2020, from Deloitte University website:

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