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In our look at what ARCO alumni are doing post ARCO, several of our interviews spotlight individuals who used the expertise and knowledge they gained in the industry to support education and the arts.
Norman Nadorff was at ARCO from 1989 until he transitioned to BP in 2000. In 2006, he was tasked with managing BP’s legal department in Angola. Soon after his arrival in Luanda, special circumstances arose that enabled Norman to propose and spearhead the creation of Africa’s first post graduate (LL.M.) program in oil and gas law at Agostinho Neto University (ANU).
"I had been in Angola for less than 60 days. I was busy managing a legal department and growing it in order to adequately serve two major deep-water projects in different states of development. I had plenty on my plate at the time, and thus, was not looking for additional challenges."
Opportunity seldom knocks twice, and when it does you need to strike and presume you will somehow find the required time and energy.
Norman recalls the fateful events as follows: “One morning, Government Affairs invited me to a meeting at the ANU law school. I was a bit surprised to hear that BP wanted to create an ethics and transparency institute. Within an hour I was back with Government Affairs arguing that what the law school, and more importantly, Angola, needed was an oil and gas law program. Indeed, at the time no oil and gas law courses were offered anywhere in this oil-driven country. That same afternoon I found myself describing my vision to the law school’s senior administration and senior BP Government Affairs executives from London. During the meeting I volunteered to create the course syllabus, recruit foreign law professors and to teach at least one module myself. By then I knew the toothpaste was out of the tube and there was no going back,” says Norman.
The LL.M. program is now in its tenth year and has graduated over 200 professionals. The program in general employs a pragmatic approach to instruction. For example, Norman says, “I teach Drafting and Negotiating International Petroleum Agreements, which I tell my students should really be called, 'How I Do My Job 101.' Instead of talking about model international and gas agreements, we apply them to practical, factual situations and roleplay their development and negotiation. Unlike their counterparts who attend expensive overseas LLM programs, AUN’s students benefit from Angolan course content and enviable in-country networking.”
Norman is also proud of developing junior local staff in Angola. When he first arrived, BP had only two freshly-minted Angolan lawyers. At its height, BP Angola’s legal department had two expatriates and eight Angolan lawyers. Today there are no expats, and the department is headed by a graduate of the LLM program whom Norman recruited. Virtually all of BP Angola’s lawyers graduated from the program as well.
BP is the only major oil company in Angola that has a completely national law department.
The result of nationalization of the legal department has been a dramatic reduction in legal costs and a drastic increase in individual professional responsibility for BP’s lawyers,” says Norman.
Norman entered the oil and gas business in 1985. He was working for DuPont soon after the company purchased Conoco. “Conoco was heavily involved in Angola and needed someone who spoke Portuguese,” recalls Norman. “I went to Houston and interviewed with Conoco, and the rest is history. Within four months, I was working in Angola doing complex oil and gas work arguably beyond my experience level. But I loved the oil and gas industry and found it much more interesting than manufacturing.”
ARCO had a different culture from other companies, and I felt appreciated in all the assignments I undertook.
Norman joined ARCO in 1989, filling a vacancy caused by the international Company’s move from Los Angeles to Plano. Once again, Norman’s language skills secured him this position.
Those were my Golden Years. I absolutely loved working at ARCO and wish it could have stayed independent.
"Perhaps my most memorable assignment was going to the Amazon rainforest to investigate why two teams of ARCO contractors had been kidnapped within 10 days in two separate incidents,” shares Norman.
Today, Norman is living in Houston where he has established a private law practice specializing in international petroleum transaction and compliance work. He is also a frequent speaker in the U.S. and overseas, including a speech at NAPE earlier this year titled, “Forget the Beverly Hillbillies: How Petroleum Agreements Work (and Don’t) Overseas” and many presentations on developing local talent.
Looking back on his career, Norman believes: “In addition to grabbing opportunities, it is also about networking.” As he often tells his students and other audiences, “even when you are not working, you can still be networking.”
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.
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.”
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: