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Zenetta Drew was at ARCO from 1974 - 1985, holding various roles in accounting and management, and was the first female African-American manager at ARCO. She is currently the Executive Director at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and has been since she joined the team in 1987. Most recently, Zenetta was honored as a Distinguished Alumna by the Alumni Association of Texas A&M University-Commerce, at their annual Alumni Awards Gala in April 2016. What follows is our interview with the ARCO alum.
Q: Why did you decide to go into the arts after ARCO?
A: Going into the arts was not a choice or a deliberate decision for me. I had retired from ARCO for two years to be a housewife and mother, when a friend talked me into volunteering to write a grant proposal for a small dance company. During those two days, I saw the business growth potential of the organization and days soon turned into months.
After three months, I finally met DBDT’s founder who had recently been seriously injured in a car accident and not expected to ever walk again. She shared with me her vision for the organization to become a respected institution in the City of Dallas, on par with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Opera, and other cultural treasures, as well as have full-time salaried dancers with benefits. I thought that my finance background could help her achieve this vision, and I could use the business expertise I learned at ARCO to benefit the community.
My finance background and the business expertise I learned at ARCO has helped me work with our community to achieve the Founder's vision.
Q: What does your position as Executive Director entail?
A: As Executive Director, I am responsible for the organizational management of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, including marketing,fundraising, accounting, staffing, facility operations, external affairs, and government and board relations.
DBDT operates without an endowment, so payroll for the entire organization must be raised every two weeks, along with other expenses. Gathering financial resources to create the desired output in business often takes as much creativity as the most beautiful choreography – and we have never missed a payroll!
Q: Can you tell me what the transition was like moving from ARCO to DBDT?
A: In transitioning from ARCO to DBDT, I went from having vast money and resources to no money or resources. It was a stark contrast to suddenly have no staff, finances, business structure, or permanent facility and still produce dance programming.
During my time at ARCO, corporations in America were reluctant to advance minorities to management positions. As a result, ARCO invested several hundred thousand dollars in all types of high-level management training to delay my promotion to supervisor in accounting as a black female. To my benefit, I was able to use the experience training and networking with top-level executives, which has greatly impacted my fundraising success as Executive Director.
Designated an American Masterpiece Touring Artist by the NEA, DBDT has performed for more than 3.5 million arts patrons and 2.5 million students in 31 states, 15 countries, and five continents, including two Cultural Olympiad engagements.
Q: You have received several prestigious awards, including the Women of Color Achievement Award in 2013. What makes you most proud?
A: While I appreciate the awards and recognition I have received over the years, I am proudest of the organization’s accomplishments collectively. I am gratified by my part in growing DBDT from a small community-based organization to an internationally recognized company with performances on some of the nation’s most prestigious stages, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Designated an American Masterpiece Touring Artist by the NEA, DBDT has performed for more than 3.5 million arts patrons and 2.5 million students in 31 states, 15 countries, and five continents, including two Cultural Olympiad engagements.
The DBDT business model shows that an artistic background is not a required component to managing an arts organization, and that artistic and business-minded individuals can successfully work together to accomplish a common vision.
Q: How has your position on advisory panels and boards contributed to your overall growth?
A: During my time at DBDT I have served on 30 to 40 boards, and all of them provided me an opportunity to give my time as well as develop relationships, gain knowledge and create multi-faceted partnerships. I have been able to change the perspective of arts management to a professional level and set an example for business practices, decorum, and philosophy in the arts community. The DBDT business model shows that an artistic background is not a required component to managing an arts organization, and that artistic and business-minded individuals can successfully work together to accomplish a common vision.
Joe Hahn was at ARCO from 1991-2000. He transitioned to BP where he worked Commercial while he earned his MBA in 2001 and his Ph.D. in 2005. Shortly after, Joe left his role at BP to join the Business School faculty at Pepperdine. Joe is currently Director of the Master of Science in Finance program at UT-Austin McCombs School of Business.
Q: Why did you decide to go into education?
A: There are really two areas of responsibility in a typical academic appointment: teaching and research. For teaching, I enjoy helping students learn material that will help them find and be successful in a career. For research, I really like the freedom to work on problems that I think are important.
There are really two areas of responsibility in a typical academic appointment: teaching and research.
Q: Can you tell me what the transition was like moving from BP to Pepperdine?
A: I thought I would stay at BP after completing my Ph.D. program, but it was apparent after a while that the opportunities to leverage the skills and knowledge I had earned were limited. So I started applying for academic jobs, and the opportunity at Pepperdine was the first one that really peaked my interest. There were/are significant differences from a typical corporate job, in that faculty are asked to satisfy some basic requirements (e.g., teach some number of classes that their department offers, serve on a faculty committee, and have a goal of publishing some number of papers in reputable peer reviewed journals) and then they are left almost completely on their own to decide how to meet those requirements. I would imagine that the transition is very similar to starting your own consulting practice.
I thought I would stay at BP after completing my Ph.D. program, but it was apparent after a while that the opportunities to leverage the skills and knowledge I had earned were limited.
Q: How do you find your perspective differs because you have private and public sector experience?
A: It has been great to have experience in both sectors. Knowing what it is like to report to the shareholders, when the value proposition of literally everything always needs to be questioned, is something that the academic/public sector is gradually recognizing as useful and important. On the other hand, not many new breakthroughs occur without research and the time/space to think independently about problems. We really need a balance of those two perspectives, and I think that’s part of why I’ve been asked to take on some administrative responsibilities here at UT.
We really need a balance of [both private and public sector] perspectives [in academia].
Joe is currently Director of the Master of Science in Finance program at UT-Austin McCombs School of Business.
The list of consultants who are working or have worked for Petrotechnical Resources Alaska (PRA) reads like the ARCO Alaska directory. It might be easier to ask who has not at one time worked with Tom Walsh and Chris Livesey at PRA.
Founded in 1997 by a group of five independent consultants, the company has over 115 affiliated geologists, geophysicists and petroleum engineers. The origin of PRA are people that left ARCO (and later BP and COP) and did not want to leave the state. Most of the individuals working through PRA have a bulk of their experience in Alaska, working in every basin in Alaska on both exploration and development projects.
“Our list of people is attractive to our clients,” says Tom. “At a trade show or on our website, people will look and say 'I know ten of those people and I respect them all.' We don’t typically recruit people. Word of mouth has been our most successful form of advertising,” finds Tom.
The origin of PRA are people that left ARCO (and later BP and COP) and did not want to leave the state.
Tom and his wife Chantal founded the company with Chet Paris, Bob Ravn and Doug Dickey. Their first contract was with Cathy Forrester at ARCO. A BP contract followed, and the company started growing from there. Initially, the company grew slowly and the other partners left. Chris joined when Chantal went back to work for ARCO as a full time employee about 1999.
They have created a business with very low overhead where PRA acts as the agency and the consultant keeps 82% of the invoice. “We operate PRA with two full-time administrative employees. PRA writes the one-page work order, paying the payroll and other taxes. Almost all of our employees are paid on the basis of receipts, ie the invoices we process on their behalf. I always say 99% of contracts are brought in by the individual working on the contract. Word of mouth and relationships remain the keys to our success,” says Tom.
Our list of people is attractive to our clients. At a trade show or on our website, people will look and say 'I know ten of those people and I respect them all.'
Tom and Chris were themselves never ARCO employees. Tom started with SOHIO in 1980. He came to Anchorage in 1984 and was on contract with BP until 1994. Kevin Frank is a geologist who was let go after COP took over. “I knew Kevin had a great reputation in the industry. I suggested he take time off and relax. When pursuing a career, you don’t get time to kick back and relax,” says Tom.
“The very next day, I called him from Hawaii where I was on vacation and said we had an opening on a drilling project, and that he could start right away…even though I stand firm on taking time off. Kevin accepted the wellsite geologist role and started work immediately. So much for my advice of taking a break,” laughed Tom.
Ben Ball and Chris Garlasco (both now living in Colorado) and Barb VanderWende (working from her home in Montana) all work on a project for PRA right now. Chris and Barb work remotely on permitting for a drilling project and Ben on conceptual facility design work. While Ben is not wishing to work a lot, Tom said he is motivated to keep him engaged as Ben is one of PRA’s few facilities people.
PRA employs many wellsite geologists that are two on two or two on and four off schedules. Quite a few folks work on the slope for PRA with contracts PRA has with Hillcorp, BP and COP, and PRA contracts them out to the operating companies. Jim Sallee and Steve Reusing are two notable ARCO alumni who have long histories as PRA wellsite geos post-ARCO careers.
A tradition for 18 years, Tom keeps the network going and the PRA family united with an annual Christmas party. Up to 100 people, including current employees and alumni, gather at Tom and Chantal’s house. It has become so anticipated that in 2015, there might have been more alumni than current consultants.
PRA’s community outreach includes a summer intern program for geoscientist and engineering students, mostly juniors from the Universities of Anchorage and Fairbanks. PRA also is closely linked with Habitat for Humanity. Each year, the company hires two construction management students and they work 40 hours a week as project assistants. PRA pays them and covers their workers comp and liability insurance. It is a successful program which Habitat for Humanity would like to replicate more broadly with other companies.
PRA’s community outreach includes a summer intern program for geoscientist and engineering students. PRA also is closely linked with Habitat for Humanity.
While the price of oil is marching its way back up, PRA looks for opportunities that are not tied to $70 oil such as Cook Inlet Gas and a hydrate research project on the slope which is funded by DOE and the Japanese Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.
Tom has been doing a fair bit of project management and he is the principal in charge of the methane project. Most of his time is spent trying to find work for his consultants and he jokes that his highest priority is to put Chantal back to work. She finished her contract with BP at the end of 2015 and is ‘driving me nuts working out every day with her close friend Erin O’Brien-Authier, who is also an ARCO alumni, and current PRA employee’, he says.
Tom and Chantal enjoyed a two week trip down the Colorado River with ARCO alums, Dede Schwartz (and husband Paul) and Dave Hanson. “We were off the grid for 14 days, which was a first for me since starting PRA. I called the raft company and said I have a satellite phone and is there any service in the canyon. They strongly recommended for my own enjoyment and that of the other rafters, to leave my phone behind. I frantically got everything wrapped up, finishing calls as we were driving to the launch location. It was enlightening to see what a relief it is to go without a phone,” found Tom.
When he left BP, Tom recalls a person speaking at an exit session saying don’t think you will get a lot of free time if you go out on your own. He notes how true that has proven. “I recently told a young man who is considering his next career move that owning your own business is time consuming, but if successful you have the benefit of creating something of value.”
“I recently told a young man who is considering his next career move that owning your own business is time consuming, but if successful you have the benefit of creating something of value.”
"We all work hard to keep the company going and we have a lot of unbillable time. Running a business is not all glamor. You don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. The people we have met through PRA is what makes me most proud. And as my son Marshall commented, I am often holding meetings on the golf course. I tell him that is the right kind of job to have,” laughs Tom.
SOME OF PRA’S ARCO ALUMS, PAST AND PRESENT:
It was another stellar year at Kinley’s with more than 50 former ARCO alumni and spouses gathering for drinks, food and a chance to catch up. Each year, we have new members joining as the word spreads - this year's new members include Annie Bezilla, Carl Lundgren and Annie Nicolet. And members come from near and far: the Kruses who were at the December happy hour in Denver and are now back living in Alaska, and Jeanette and Wes Peirce and their three sons who live in The Woodlands were on their way to the airport later that night after an amazing vacation.
We were sorry to miss Bill and Brenna Patterson, who were in Anchorage one week later.
There was an individual with many a name tag (Mark Worcester – refer to the photo album!), and one who had us confused. It seems both Clif and James Posey worked for ARCO Alaska, and when we emailed Clif, we ended up with a new member: James. Clif is a wellsite geologist in San Angelo, Texas and James, who was at the happy hour, is currently in his third self-funded sabbatical.
I thought the ARCO Alumni Happy Hour was very well attended.
John Cologgi has been working part-time with Armstrong since they took over as the operator of the Nanushuk project from their partner Repsol. Repsol and privately held Armstrong recently reached an agreement to strategically re-align their interests in their Alaska North Slope exploration and development venture. John is working with a team of consultants reviewing the previous work completed by Repsol, responding to EIS questions from the Corps of Engineers and positioning the project for the next phase.
Gerry Suellentrop left Degolyer MacNaughton and joined Caelus Energy where he is working with ARCO Alumni Andy Bond and Greg Sanders. Andy and Lori did not make the happy hour as Andy was on a corporate fishing trip, but Gerry and Greg were at Kinley’s. Greg is working a reduced schedule at Caelus through year end and then looks forward to more golf and travel with his wife, Lisa who was sorry to miss the get together. Lisa continues to run her own State Farm Insurance agency in Anchorage, and insures many ARCO families.
Russ Doig, with our long term sponsor, GCI was there and shared that he thought the event was very well attended. Linda Petrie is still in the Facilities Group at COP and planning to work two more years. Other COP employees who attended included Emily Arrowsmith, Annie Bezilla, Dan Eck, Kathy Godsey, Renee Hannon, John Melvin, Louise Osborn, and Tina Suellentrop.
It was great to see old comrades.
Retirees Marcia Bandy and Jack Porter plan to stay in Anchorage, having decided that without the income tax it is the best place for them; Mark Worcester also retired and lives in Anchorage. Dan and Grace Kruse and Sally Chryst live in Big Lake and drove in for the evening. The Kruse’s son John finished his freshman year at University of Denver and is home with them for the summer, where they are pleased to be installing an upgraded kitchen.
It was great to see new faces including Kirk Allen who retired from COP, Ed and Michele Hendrickson, Carl Lundgren who is doing Resource Devlopment for BP Alaska, another of our event sponsors, is a new member on ARCO Alumni, as is Annie Nicolet who is working with CH2M Hill. Annie shared how it was ‘great to see old comrades’.
Also at the happy hour from BP Alaska were Richard Clausen who is a Process Engineer in projects and Scott Digert, who is working as Resource Manager for the Greater Prudhoe Bay and Fieldwide teams.
Becky Schumacher, who traditionally attends, was on vacation in Italy, and Bharet Jhaveri had moved South to Vancouver, Washington.
We thank our sponsors, Advancial, AWS, BP, GCI and PRA. While Janet Weiss was out of town and did not attend, her quote in Rigzone magazine is proven each time we host an ARCO get-together: “There is power in community. It’s very important to connect and make relationships.”
With 38 of our members sharing that they live in the UK, we wanted to see how many were with ARCO British Limited during their career and who ended up in the UK with other companies. Below we share some updates, and hope you will be inspired to log on and update what you are doing, and where you are living.
No surprise that a number of our members are employed by BP, including John Brame who is with BP Finance in London. John was last employed by AIOGC (ARCO Intl Oil and Gas Co.) in Indonesia immediately prior to joining BP. Subsequent to the acquisition of ARCO, John worked for BP in Indonesia, the UK, Egypt, Moscow and then back to the UK about 3 years ago. He tells us: “The great people in ARCO and the many friends from that time that I still keep in close contact with is what I will always remember.”
Ian Pigram shared that BP has gone through a period of “simplification” in the UK. Ian is in exploration where he moved after working the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan. “Since moving from ARCO British to BP, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of projects ranging from development to exploration, many with some enjoyably challenging technical aspects,” says Ian.
The technical capabiity of the folks here made multidisciplinary projects a superb learning experience.
Kate Mitchell logged on and shared that she has worked in BP’s Exploration group up until this summer and is based in Aberdeenshire. “After a couple of good years in Norway working on the mighty Valhall field 4D we thought we would try Scotland for a change. Prior to that I was in BP Exploration in Sunbury, UK, within the rock properties and seismic modelling team. We now have 2 small boys to keep John and I out of mischief. My hobbies include walking/ mountaineering/ mountain biking/ surfing and a bit of skiing...and getting the boys into that as well,” said Kate.
Mark O’Connor is working with BP in Sunbury looking after the Angola Region as the Process Safety Technical Authority as part of Safety and Operational Risk organisation. In his role, Mark works alongside the business to provide advice and scrutiny. Mark married in 2013; he and his wife Elizabeth enjoy exploring in their VW Campervan.
Of course, some of our members are working in the UK for other companies.
Mahmoud Manji lives in London and works for Exxon Mobil in commercial and business development. Mahmoud worked for BP prior to moving over to Exxon Mobil.
Matt Carolan joined Challenge Energy technical and commercial advisors in 2004 as Business Development Manager. Matt is based in Guildford.
I'm greatful for the time I spent at ARCO. It was a great place to work and I met my parnter, Steve Chastell, there. We are still together after 20 years!
Marie Jarvie tells us about her life after ARCO: “I worked for KBR, looking after the Finance function in ten of their worldwide offices. I visited to a lot of lovely places including Australia, Russia, Sweden, Azerbaijan and of course Houston! But, tiring of so much travel, I made my next move away from a 'Big American Company' to a small British one. I am now Finance Director at g3baxi partnership limited. It's an oil & gas consultancy company and is employee owned (a bit like John Lewis) so all the employees are highly motivated and it's like working in one big happy family."
Since leaving ARCO, Laurence Jackson had three foreign assignments with AGIP/ENI. The first was in Nigeria, the second was in Angola and the last posting was in Iraq. His time with AGIP/ENI left Laurie with an appreciation of Italian culture, a taste for their wine, a basic knowledge of the language, and a house in Italy. With the downturn in the oil industry, Laurie is currently working for a computer consultancy in Southern England.
Looking for a new opportunity
Many former ARCO and Vastar employees have had long, interesting careers and with the downturn, they remain interested in employment. John Davies is one of these people. Others who are interested in employment are indicating their availability using the ARCO search where you can search for people who are available.
John worked exploration, operations and formation evaluation with ARCO, joined Triton in 2000 to coordinate their appraisal operations of Ceiba and discoveries of Oveng, Okume, Elon and Ebano. When that drilling campaign was completed, John joined Nexen in Dallas to plan and coordinate geologic well operations and reservoir evaluation. When Nexen’s drilling program slowed, John became Exploration Team Lead for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. John and his counterpart at Shell managed to convince their managements to firmly commit to a three well program in 2009. Three prior multi well drilling programs were abandoned after disappointing results on the first well. The first 2009 well, Antietam, an appraisal to the marginal Shiloh discovery, was dry. Luckily the commitment to continue the program led to the Appomattox discovery. John left Nexen during their re-organization and purchase by CNOOC. He joined ENI in Houston to continue focusing on exploration of the Pre-Miocene of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. John moved to the London to join Pam Morelos-Roths (ARCO Plano and Vastar) at New Age to work West Africa and Kurdistan projects. Due to the downturn, John is currently living outside of London and looking for new petroleum geologist positions. In his free time John meets other artists exploring museums, studios and galleries. John also enjoys walks in the Surrey Hills and on the Coast. John can be contacted at email@example.com
Back in the Good ‘Ol USA
While working at ARCO, Bryon McGregor was project finance manager (’98-’01). After leaving ARCO after the BP merger, Bryon joined E*TRADE in various positions, including Assistant Treasurer, Brokerage Treasurer and finally two years as International Treasurer in London. Shortly after those two years ended, he made the move back to the US.
Rob O’Connor worked in the Sunbury office with BP managing the Black Sea Exploration project until 2010 when he moved to Houston where he is currently BP's Canada Exploration Manager.
Yohan Johan Kusumanegara was with ARCO from 1994-1999 and then worked for Total in the UK. He is currently in Houston working for Hess and is also available for consulting.
Chris Worthington talks of keeping in touch with ARCO colleagues. Chris worked on the transfer of ARCO interests to BP, Tullow and ExxonMobil as a member of the Red Square team. He transitioned to Project Consultant advising ExxonMobil management on their Joint Venture (50/50 Shell/ExxonMobil) European projects in the North Sea, the Netherlands and Germany. Chris worked alongside Mahmoud Manji and Paul Hector who took up commercial roles within the JV team until he retired in 2009.
Chris is busy enjoying his 4 grandchildren develop into amazing people. He is also vice chair of the Wooburn Festival, enjoys mountain biking in the Chilterns (300-400 miles a month), travelling and pursuing many other activities and interests. Chris tells us he will still stay in touch with a few ARCO friends, two already mentioned and Martin Thurlow, John Knepler and Andy Humphreys to mention a few more. He tells us “John Knepler keeps me abreast of mutual friends and colleagues from the other side of the Atlantic.”
And Stephen Giles tells us: “Thanks to the clarity of strategic vision of BP in the late 90s in being very efficient in its string of acquisitions and subsequent integrations (aka redundancies), the decision to strike out on my own was an easy one. The long-term financials were neutral whether I stayed or went, and the non-corporate world was a more appetising challenge. After a couple of years as a fully engaged contractor, much of it outside the upstream business but using skills developed within it, I returned to the upstream world to build and lead an upstream division of a European utility. Then I moved on to the Middle East to work for UAE-owned energy companies, and back to Malaysia in 2009 (after 30 years away) to rebuild the local subsidiary of a well-known UK services company, struggling to respond to the unique cultural challenges.
Just when I am thinking about hanging up my gloves, an opportunity comes from nowhere to work on Norway's biggest discovery for 30 years.
"This discovery," continues Steve, may be the best reservoir in the oil patch ever! Thanks, ARCO, for the personal development opportunities. Thanks, BP, for the freedom.”