Canadian Energy Exec Group Welcomes FW de Klerk On Thursday

When Celine Gerson moved from Houston to Calgary this past January to become president of Schlumberger Canada Limited, which has 3,500 employees in this country, one of her first steps was to become involved in an organization called the Canadian Energy Executive Association (CEEA).

Gerson, who has been an oil and gas executive for 20 years, most of it with companies subsequently bought by energy services giant Schlumberger, such as Cameron International, regards her experience with CEEA as one of the highlights of her move to Canada.

“The mission of CEEA is to advance Canada as an energy industry leader,” said Gerson, who is originally from France.

She adds that goal becomes challenging in a country “where we can’t build pipelines or LNG terminals.”

She said one of the reasons the industry in Canada is “paralyzed” is because, too often, the energy sector “doesn’t have a seat at the table” when governments are developing their policies.

“We need to change our public image,” said Gerson, who heads communications for the CEEA.

The CEEA, which was formed in 1951, provides an environment where industry executives can meet socially and also can attend events where speakers tackle important energy industry topics.

One of its most interesting events will take place this Thursday at the Calgary Petroleum Club, when a world leader not usually thought of as an energy industry expert will address both CEEA members and members of the general public, who are welcome to attend.

Former South African President FW de Klerk, who, along with the late Nelson Mandela, another former President of that country, were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, in recognition of their efforts to end apartheid in that country, will speak about the transition of his homeland to a non-racial constitutional democracy. Tickets for the event, which takes place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., cost $500 each (plus GST).

Gerson said she believes that, although de Klerk’s address won’t be directly linked to the challenges faced by the Canadian energy industry, it will, nevertheless, provide valuable advice for those involved in the sector.

“The management of South Africa, from apartheid to a liberal democracy, applies to any change management,” she said, adding that the process of change is surprisingly similar.

For example, those involved in change need to engage in rigorous self-examination, to articulate a clear and achievable vision, to develop consistent and transparent communication, and to persevere.

She argues that the same process needs to be engaged in by energy industry executives, if they want to drive home to Canadians how vital the health of the energy industry is to the Canadian economy.

Although the de Klerk event will be a highlight of this year’s CEEA activities, it is one of several events it will hold this year, and which it holds every year.

For instance, the organization, now headed by chairman David Hood, president of Calgary-based geoLOGIC Systems Ltd., will hold its annual conference from Aug. 22-25 this year, at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

In addition, it will be holding a number of social and business events this year, the latter featuring guest speakers such as industry experts Peter Tertzakian and Aaron Gunn. In 2016, it introduced its Speaker Series, with the keynote address, “The Future of Energy in Alberta” given by then former MP Jason Kenney, now the leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta. That was followed by a Q&A with former MP Preston Manning, the founder and former leader of the Reform Party of Canada.

For more information about the CEEA, go to its website at energyexecs.ca.

Those wanting to register for this Thursday’s event should go to http://energyexecs.ca/event/speaker-series-president-fw-de-klerk/.