And then there were two . . .
Linda Zarda Cook’s recent appointment as CEO of Chysaor-Premier Oil
made her only the second woman to currently head a London-listed exploration and production company. Ironically, that seems to have gotten more press than the promotion of Katherine Roe to CEO of Wentworth Resources at the end of last year, making her the only female CEO in that position at the time.
“That shouldn’t be the headline,” Roe says in her earnest, straightforward way, leaning toward the camera during our Zoom call. “That’s not what this is about. You get these jobs because you deserve them, because you’re capable, and because you’ve demonstrated your skill set, not because you’re a woman. I wouldn’t want that to detract from the fact that Linda’s incredibly smart and very capable for a role like that, which is why she got the job.”
Roe very well could be talking about herself. In just five short years, she rose through the ranks at Wentworth, initially joining the company in 2014 as its VP Corporate Development & Investor Relations, bringing with her two decades of experience in capital markets and investment banking. Within four years, she was chief financial officer, and named interim CEO the following year. Despite having a 20-year career, she was only 42 when she assumed the helm in January of 2020.
“I don’t feel inexperienced, I don’t feel out of my depth, I don’t feel like I have been promoted too early,” she says firmly while adding, “but I do feel that there’s lots left to learn.” Believing experience is the best teacher, she draws on the historical experience of Wentworth’s board. “I very much like listening to other people’s views and being able to admit that [I] don’t know everything is possibly a skill in its own right,” she muses. “At the same time, I do have a fairly good gut feel for the right judgment and the right call to make.”
It’s that quiet confidence that has positioned Roe as a role model for the next generation of female leaders. With women making up only 10 percent of the CEOs in oil and gas, according to McKinsey, it would be hard to say what the archetypal female energy CEO would be, but leadership, like everything about the industry, is undergoing change. In her calm, assured manner, Roe says, “[The way] the sector was behaving 30 years ago is no longer relevant,” and, coming from her, that sounds like a positive development. “I don’t have 40 years’ experience, but I have relevant daily experience and I think right now, given how quickly things are moving, that’s really…
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