Roberto Casula, Eni senior executive, has spent the past 30 years in the oil and gas industry. He is currently engaged in open innovation and venture capital and has seen first-hand the impact and influence of technology on the oil, gas and energy sector.

But today, I wanted to talk to Roberto Casula about another vital natural resource, developing new talent and cultivating a next generation of diverse leaders in the oil and gas industry.

According to a 2018 Gender Diversity Study by the Petroleum Equipment and Services Association, women comprise only 15 percent of the oil and gas industry workforce. McKinsey recently found that only 1/3 of entry-level employees in the oil and gas industry are female, compared with 41% across other STEM industries and 48% for the corporate sector as a whole.

“A few years ago, I had the opportunity to start a mentoring program of which  I was initially highly skeptical,” says Casula.

“My skepticism did not come from hostility to the idea of mentorship, but from my sense that I did not have the time. My working days were quite intense, my calendar always tight, including weekends, and my mind fully occupied with difficult business and operational issues. I was not inclined to share much of myself, personal or professional, to unfamiliar people.

Before our first meeting, I received a profile for an extraordinary young woman showing success at various Chief Executive Officer positions in several different entities. She was the author of books about business leadership and innovation, a guest speaker in different events organized by corporations, associations, and universities that I knew and respected and, last but not least, her TED talks were seen by over nine million people. In short, a most impressive background.”

Starting from the very first day of our time together, I remained surprised by her remarkable empathy, her effective way to share expertise and understanding of the complex dynamics within a corporation, such as Eni, totally unknown to her beforehand.

We had several meetings that turned to be open and honest, brainstorming  personal and professional goals, problem solving and planning. She was a great help in improving my understanding of managing and motivating people and how to solve, for example, certain organizational hurdles related to my new job.

Eventually, we developed a trusting relationship, mutual esteem, and, on occasion, even moral support.

Furthermore, these meetings became an opportunity for personal introspection and self-awareness, an aspect sometimes left neglected.

In a relatively short period of time, I went from being a skeptic of mentoring to a zealous advocate. I knew intuitively mentoring would have an impact in the other person’s professional life and career, but I underestimated the difference it would have in my own.”