Profile: Gretchen Watkins
Gretchen Watkins has an accumulated working experience of more than 20 years undertaking corporate leadership roles in major oil companies. The Cincinnati native has seen her career take her far and wide from Vietnam to Copenhagen and now, she resides in Houston while working as Shell's President.
- Gretchen Watkins studied at Pennyslavia State University in Mechanical Engineering from 1986 to 1990. Her LinkedIn profile lists her in possession of a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Reports have diverging views on her graduation
- Watkins also holds a BP Executive Education Course from Stanford University in 2003 after having previously attended the same course at University of Cambridge in 2000.
- According to her LinkedIn profile, Watkins also attended Urseline Academy and Wyoming
Work history/ experience
- Watkins currently works at Shell Oil Company as the President. She has held this position since January 2019. She also holds the position of Executive Vice President of Unconventionals, Shell's upstream business from May 2018 to present.
- Before joining Unconventionals, Watkins previously worked at Maersk Oil for a cumulative period of 4 years and 3 months beginning as a Chief Operating Officer in February 2014 and later the Chief Executive Officer beginning October 2016.
- Gretchen Watkins also worked as a Non Executive Director at Atkins for a period of 7 months beginning August 2013 before joining Maersk.
- Before Atkins, Watkins worked at Marathon Oil Corporation. First as the Vice President of International Production Operations between July 2008 and September 2012 then later as the Vice President of North American Production Operations until September 2013
- Watkins in addition, had an accumulated experience of more than a decade working at BP. Beginning as a Supply and Trading manager, Refined Products in 1998 for a period of 3 years, then as the Chief of Staff to Group Vice President of Marketing for a year till in 2002 when she was promoted to President of BP Netherlands Energy.
- In the second half of her tenure at BP, she started as the Vice President in the Natural Gas Liquids Business Unit in Canada and then as the General Director of BP Vietnam and China.
- Her earliest recorded working experience was as a Supervisor of Projects and planning at Amoco.
- Watkins oversaw the successful operation of Maersk Oil as chief operating officer at a time when low oil prices were crippling the industry.
- Besides being in a field that is traditionally male-dominated, Watkins has proved herself more than capable in her role at Shell, spearheading negotiation deals in the Gulf of Mexico and other energy regions worldwide.
- Her expertise in operations, planning, and economic leadership has seen her take up leadership roles and oversight at the various energy companies she has worked at, including Shell where she is responsible for an annual budget in excess of $5B.
- Watkins was in 2019 honored by the Editors of Oil and Gas Investor as one of the 25 Influential Women in Energy
Statements on business philosophies
- "I request that the Environmental Protection Agency continue the direct regulation of methane emissions. The agency is thinking about stripping out methane from the 2016 methane rule and regulating a different emission instead. I disagree." Gretchen Watkins in a Linked post
- "Strong, targeted regulations can improve environmental performance across the industry while spurring innovation. It is an essential step on a path to a more sustainable future." says Gretchen Watkins in a LinkedIn post
- “More renewable energy is critical for a cleaner energy future, and increasingly how people live, work, and play is going to be powered by lower-carbon electricity.” Gretchen Watkins according to a tweet by Shell US
- "I’m very motivated by the challenge of trying to build a sustainable energy future." asserts Watkins in a Houston blog interview
- "I think each generation of women faces the challenge of moving forward, not backward. Because the moment we take for granted that the progress we’ve made toward equality and parity is permanent, that’s when we’re at risk of losing ground. " Adds Watkins.
- “Diversity can happen more quickly when you put targets in place,” says Watkins in an interview on CERAWeek by IHS Markit Conference.
Summary and link to recent press articles, interviews, profiles
- In a panel on WSJ, Gretchen Watkins gave her remarks on the Green New Deal commending the deal for igniting a climate change conversation and thereby increasing awareness on the topic. On the other hand, Watkins questioned the resolve of the deal in phase out fossil fuels by 2030 as an impossible task.
- Gretchen Watkins was quoted by a Washington post article pledging to reduce the methane leaks in Shell's global operations to less than 0.2% by 2025. The article was discussing on rollbacks by the Trump administration on fossil fuels in which Shell, amongst other major fossil fuel companies seemed to oppose.
- Watkins' LinkedIn article on the regulation of methane has also received wide coverage by the press. In the article, Watkins urges the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with direct regulation of methane emissions as opposed to stripping out methane from 2016 methane rule. Watkins goes ahead and lays out reasons for her stance on the regulation of methane. She reveals the harmful nature of methane as a greenhouse gas and a contributor to global warming. Watkins adds that her company felt responsible to support methane's regulation and emission reduction.
- In an interview published on Yahoo Finance twitter page, Gretchen Watkins reveals how Shell is capitalizing on the shale boom.
- According to an article by Bloomberg, Watkins has called for hard targets for women in oil and gas to accelerate diversity in the male dominated workplace.
- Watkins is a mother of three children and a wife to a stay at home husband.
- She is involved in Communities in Schools Charity in Houston that provides resources and services for less fortunate students and their families and ensures they finish high school.
- Watkins enjoys watching Blind spot, a popular TV show with a female lead.
- Watkins acknowledges Anna Catalano, a retiree of BP as a mentor and friend from their time at Amoco where she was Catalano's right-hand woman. The two shared some similarities including having young children and stay at home husbands. Watkins has admittedly consulted her when making major career decisions including joining Shell.
- Watkins openly advocates for adversity in the workplace and is a voice and role model for women and girls in the male dominated energy field. She has also demonstrated her passion for women in energy by implementing numerical targets in her company and has constantly spoken in personal capacity of such controversial matters.