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A petroleum engineer at McKinsey?!

– Marie, a specialist in Oil & Gas in London, has had a surprising career inside and outside of McKinsey:


Marie inline

I love how people react when I tell them I work for McKinsey as a petroleum engineer focused on operations. Usually they don’t believe me; they’ll say “how can you be a petroleum engineer and work for a consulting firm like McKinsey?” That’s the beauty of the Petroleum Asset eXcellence New Venture within our Oil & Gas Practice. We apply McKinsey’s deeply rooted drive for impact and technical expertise to help oil and gas operators transform and adapt to the new landscape of a lower oil price. It’s a powerful combination.

I joined McKinsey after working for an operator in the oil and gas industry for five years. Initially, I worked as a commercial analyst. In that role, it was difficult to get a sense of what effect I was having on the company’s bottom line. I was constantly thinking about how I could have real impact and not just be part of the process.

This search eventually spurred me to become a petroleum engineer. Being so close to the “barrel” gave me a deeper sense of satisfaction and made me realize how much I’m driven by having the ability to make a difference. At McKinsey, that feeling runs deep in every study; each person on the team is central to delivering results.

When I decided to apply to McKinsey, I never thought I’d have even greater impact on the bottom line than I did as a petroleum engineer (although I have!). I applied because I wanted a more varied role with more travel and cultural exchange. My engagements have taken me to Spain, Norway, South Korea, Italy and West Africa. To my surprise, the firm was eager to expand its delivery model to offshore operations. I have worked offshore twice so far and expect to do so again.

The real strengths of the firm

Participating in engagements all over the world has shown me one of the real strengths of the firm. Whether we are working at a remote operating site in East Asia or on a platform in the middle of the North Sea, our team will find a way to solve the problems at hand and deliver the impact needed. On my most recent project, I have been working with an oil company struggling to be profitable in a lower price environment. We are at the beginning of the transformation, but the difference is already tangible. When we arrived, there was a sense of defeat in the whole organisation. We brought in a chief transformation officer who has a 100% track-record (he has never failed a transformation) and an amazing, global team. I am leading a workstream to increase revenues by enhancing production. So far, my clients and I have generated initiatives that promise to increase revenues by more than $100 M per year, which is far more than I ever dreamed of effecting in my previous role.

Living a full life

Despite travel for work and an intense position, I have time to pursue my passions outside of oil & gas. One of my favorite activities is cross-country skiing, which I got the pleasure of teaching my British husband while we were staying in Norway. A few years ago, we participated in a cross-country skiing marathon (45km). I thought it would be easier than it was, but after a lot of hard work, we crossed the finish line. Kind of like a McKinsey study.

Check out opportunities to follow in Marie’s footsteps and join the Petroleum Asset eXcellence New Venture.