I started my career with ambitions of becoming a great geologist. Eventually, however, I learned that while I could become a good geologist, I would never be a truly great geologist. The difference was heart. My heart just wasn’t in it. Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn’t get a rush from going to the core lab. I knew that I needed to broaden my knowledge and skills, which is why I decided to pursue an MBA. Given that I was only a few years into my career, some of my mentors felt confused by this new academic endeavor... Why would you need an MBA to excel as a geologist? Though I was not sure exactly what the future would hold, I knew my path to greatness was somewhere down that road. Through projects in my MBA, sitting on and leading various business improvement committees at ConocoPhillips, I realized that my personal path to success lay in unlocking other people’s greatness. I also realized that I could help harness collective energy to create achievements beyond what any one individual could achieve themselves. My initial foray at this was a project called Integrated Planning. A revolutionary idea in 2010 – the notion of all different disciplines sitting in the same room and planning an entire drilling season together. It had never been done and was aiming to achieve the kind of cultural change an early career geologist wasn’t “responsible for” in a multinational corporation. Well it worked. Our capital program improved, we lowered our impact on the environment, and the best part? People felt like they belonged to a team wherein their contributions were heard and valued.
My experience as a Geologist gave me the technical skills, I needed to understand the requirements of a well planned and executed capital program. It gave me the ability to understand the nature of other people’s roles within the process, and to help solve the problems that arose for them.
Today I’m reminded that as a kid I was never the Lego mastermind in the family, but rather the self-appointed “Inventor’s helper” to my brother’s genius engineering mind. If I could make it easier for him to get the pieces he needed, he could create even bigger and more impressive creations. 30-some years later, that’s my job, and I have to pinch myself to believe it’s true. I’m the Animator for the Energy Futures Lab, which means I get to breathe life into ideas and projects developed by 60+ innovators who are working together to build the energy system the future requires of us. I personally believe that our society is at a very important crossroads; the decisions we make today will have enormous ripple effects on our future descendants. I know that taking action to evolve our energy system will have positive and negative consequences on society at large, which is why we need to focus on animating the ideas and building the projects that will create a thriving world for many future generations. My geology background still helps me immensely today. I understand the different types of geothermal projects that are possible, and how the needs of each type differ in everything from the infrastructure required to the varying impacts of different types of royalty frameworks. When discussing hydrogen projects, I can quickly understand, and problem solve the various infrastructure challenges of increasing hydrogen content in pipes which were originally designed for methane. Perhaps most importantly, I can understand what people working in the oil and gas industry have to lose, and how hard it can be to pivot away from something that you owe so much of your personal and professional success to. When it comes to the “Energy Transition,” I like to look at it as the evolution of oil and gas, rather than the death of it. All of the skills and most of the infrastructure can be repurposed for low carbon emitting energy sources that have the potential to unlock new markets internationally. We need the ingenuity of everyone who built this current system to help us create the energy system the future requires of us.
Proud to be part of the Energy Futures Lab and to be working on building a better Alberta for everyone. My heart is in it.
About the Author(s)
Juli Rohl is an Animator for the Energy Futures Lab. After 3 years as an EFL Fellow, Juli works with the Lab to support the initiatives, help deliver community roadshows, and acts as liaison between the EFL and the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition. With deep roots in petroleum geology and experience in business strategy and systems thinking, Juli knows that Alberta can be a leader in the global energy transition. Juli earned both a B.Sc. in Geology and an MBA from the University of Calgary.