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SPE Breaking the Cycle of Discrimination—Workplace Challenges in the Oil and Gas Industry

1 – 2 October 2014

Aberdeen, United Kingdom | Norwood Hall Hotel

Speaker Biographies

Cindy Bigner
Senior Director, Corporate Affairs and Diversity Initiatives Halliburton

Cindy Bigner is Halliburton’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs and Diversity Initiatives. In this role, she is responsible for providing strategic direction for the Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Community Relations, and for leading efforts to increase the hiring of a diverse workforce and promote inclusion throughout the Company. She is Vice President of the Halliburton Foundation and also manages the President’s Leadership Excellence Program (PLEP) and Business Leadership Development programs for Halliburton’s high-potential talent. Since joining Halliburton in 1990, she has held positions in a variety of areas, including Compensation and Human Resources Information Systems, and served as manager of Human Resources. She is the first person to hold the position of Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and has been instrumental in shaping the Company’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy and objectives. Bigner holds a Master of Science degree in global human resources management from the University of Liverpool in London.

She serves on the Diversity Advisory Boards for Louisiana State University and the University of Houston. Bigner was recently recognized as one of the top women in the energy industry by theHouston Business Journal and as one of the “Most Influential & Powerful Women in Texas” by the Texas Diversity Council. In 2012, she was named as one of Houston’s “50 Most Influential Women” by Houston Woman Magazine. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events related to diversity and professional development for women.


Nigel Bradburn
Vice Chair, Membership & Professional Development Co-ordinator at Energy Institute

Nigel holds the voluntary role of Chair and Membership & Professional Development Co-Ordinator here in Aberdeen for the leading energy professional body 'The Energy Institute'. He previously worked as an HR Business Partner for American E&P Independents Marathon Oil and Amerada Hess supporting the professional development of technical staff including the establishment of Chartership programmes and identification of top talent. Nigel is a Fellow of the leading UK body for HR Practioners the "Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)" as well as holding board and committee appointments in the upstream sector with the Scottish Oil Club and SPE.

mike duncan

Mike Duncan
Director, Energy Skills Scotland

Mike Duncan is Director of Energy Skills Scotland, established in 2013 by the Scottish Government with industry input as part of Skills Development Scotland to deliver on skills priorities in Scotland’s energy sector. Working with employers and industry stakeholders, ESS aims to improve the focus on skills challenges being faced by the energy industry as a result of high levels of activity and global competition. Mike sits on the Government’s Energy Advisory Board as well as the Energy Skills Action Group and several energy industry leadership groups, ensuring a broad dialogue with employers and industry bodies to focus public sector alignment and strategic intervention on skills issues. Mike is an economics graduate from Aberdeen University and brings a wealth of sector experience to the role with 30 years experience in the oil and gas, consulting and industrial sectors. Formerly with OPITO, the oil and gas focal point for skills and training development, latterly as interim Managing Director, he has also held senior management positions with Bristow and Sodexo’s European operations.

Fergus Ewing
MSP Minister for Energy, Scottish Government

Mr Ewing was born in Glasgow in September 1957 and was educated at Edinburgh's Loretto School and then attended Glasgow University. He was elected as MSP for Inverness East, Nairn & Lochaber in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 and 2007. Prior to being elected, he ran his own law practice and developed SNP policy on small business and other matters as well as serving on the party's national executive. He has served on a number of Scottish Parliament committees including the Subordinate Legislation Committee, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Finance, Local Government and Transport committee and was previously Shadow Minister for Transport, Tourism & Telecommunications. He is the son of Winnie, formerly the MSP for Highlands and Islands and MEP for Scotland, and brother of Annabelle, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. A former member of the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, Mr Ewing has climbed around two thirds of Scotland's Munroes. He was also a keen runner and has taken part in several marathons, including New York. He enjoys listening to jazz and playing the piano in his spare time.

Alan Johnson,
Senior Petrophysicist, Shell UK

Alan Johnson is a Principal Petrophysicist in Shell UK Aberdeen. Before joining Shell in 2001, he worked as an independent petrophysical consultant in the UK for a number of years following a 14 year career with Hamilton Oil (later BHP Petroleum) as a Senior Petrophysicist and Petroleum Engineering Supervisor based in London and Vietnam. He originally started his career Shell in 1974 with a degree in Physics from Aberdeen University; during this early phase of his career he worked in Aberdeen, Abu Dhabi and The Hague, predominantly in petrophysics. He is a member of the Schools Career Guidance group in SPE Aberdeen and serves on the SPE Global Training and Editorial Committees.

Rita Marcella
Dean of Faculty at Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University

Rita Marcella is Dean of Faculty at Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University. Following early experience in the oil and gas industry, Rita has spent most of her career in various academic roles at Robert Gordon University. Her research interests include: information behavior and information systems in health and safety management; health and safety competence; the provision of, need for, and use of government, parliamentary and citizenship information; Internet use by political parties and electoral candidates; freedom of information and business information provision.

Ali Parsa
Senior Reservoir Engineer (REng) Total E & P UK Ltd.

Ali has worked with the Total group since 2006 and moved to Total UK in 2009. He has a broad range of RE experience from oil field development to Elgin/Franklin HPHT gas condensate field management, subsea exploration and developments and is currently working on Alwyn North Fields. He got his first degree in Reservoir Engineering from Petroleum University of Technology in Iran and has an MSc in Petroleum Economy and Management from IFP (The French Institute of Petroleum), Paris. He has co-authored an SPE paper on Nuggets subsea gas fields and presented at the 2013 SPE Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Aberdeen, UK. He is an SPE Aberdeen board member and chairman of the membership committee.

Vincent Pizzoni,
Consultant, Preng & Associates

Vince is a Consultant working in Executive Search for Preng & Associates, and focused on finding exceptional talent for clients in the energy sector including Oil and Gas, Oilfield Services, Chemicals, Renewables and Private Equity. He has over 30 years business experience in international markets primarily in oil, gas and chemicals. This includes time spent in regional general management, sales and marketing, technology and business development roles with Exxon, Suez, Nalco and V.Ships. In his last role with Nalco, Vince was GM, Europe/Africa/Middle East/Former Soviet Union. At V.Ships, he was MD, Europe/Africa/Middle East/Asia. He has diverse experience namely “8 company changes, 12 job changes, 59 countries, 3000 flights, 5000 hotel rooms, +55degC to -35degC, 16 years away from home!” He has a degree in Chemical Engineering, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers and Chartered Management Institute, and a Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. 

Dawn Robertson,
Oil & Gas Regional Manager at Hudson

Specialising in senior commercial and search appointments within Oil & Gas, Dawn is a true ‘trusted advisor’ to many leading organisations both in Aberdeen itself and Internationally. Able to demonstrate an unrivalled track record of delivering successful search solutions to both larger blue chip and local SME organisations. Dawn enjoys a well-established senior network in Aberdeen and is actively involved in a large number of organisations, is due to complete an MBA from Robert Gordon University in 2015 and she also sits as a board member of the Grampian Housing Association. Dawn currently manages Hudson’s UK Oil & Gas practice and is an experienced search specialist with over 12 years personal recruitment experience.

Nikhil Shindgikar
Technical Sales Manager, Schlumberger Oilfield UK Plc

Nikhil works with Schlumberger Oilfield UK Plc. as Technical Sales Manager. He started his professional career in 2004 within the Oil and Gas industry. He worked in Russia, where he experienced a temperatuire change of 100degC in one year and France prior coming to Aberdeen, UK. He has worked and led several new technology projects within Well Services. He has several patent applications filed within US and Europe. Nikhil has an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands, MS. Chemical Engineering from Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), Netherlands, and he graduated with honors in Bachelors of Petro-Chemical Engineering from Maharashtra Institute of Technology, India. Nikhil believes in the importance of volunteering and team work. Nikhil is a SPE Aberdeen YP Chair. Nikhil considers himself as a fanatic traveler and jumps on every opportunity to explore a new place, culture, food etc. He likes cooking and playing squash.

Emma Spence

Emma Spence
Managing Director of Solutions Store

Solutions Store’s first big milestone was when Emma began working in a start-up operator in the North Sea, Taqa, who she continues to work with on a global remit, helping develop the company’s culture and introduce it in their new start-up ventures worldwide. The team at Solutions Store partner with customers while they form and grow their business. The culture they want to create and the tone and style they aspire to from the leadership are some of the things Solutions Store help them achieve. Strong leadership be it individual or organisational is a critical component in any start-up business. At Solutions Store the team are passionate about helping to provide strong leadership for the next generation, to ensure that the North Sea maintains its world class reputation for many years to come.  

Eve Sprunt
Consultant, 2006 SPE President

Dr. Sprunt served as the 2006 SPE President and was made an Honorary Member of SPE in 2010.  In 2013 she was honored by the Society of Women Engineers with the Achievement Award, their highest award.  Now a consultant, she worked for Chevron from 2000 through 2013 in a variety of management roles in R&D, business development, university relations & recruiting, venture capital, and climate change policy.  Before joining Chevron, she worked for 21 years for Mobil, including positions in upstream new business development and research.  She holds 23 patents, authored 28 technical articles, has written over 120 industry editorials, was a founder of the Society of Core Analysts and has served on visiting committees for MIT and Colorado School of Mines.  Sprunt holds BS and MS degrees from MIT in earth and planetary sciences and was the first woman to receive a PhD degree from Stanford University in geophysics. 

Michael Taggart
Engineering Manager, Baker Hughes

Michael joined the Merchant Navy from school and became an Engineering Officer prior to leaving in 1987. Returning to education he gained a degree in Manufacturing Engineer from The University of Paisley. After two years in the aero engine business. Michael joined Baker Hughes (previously BJ Services) in 1993. He completed training in the USA and gained experience in several areas, including, cementing, stimulation and Coiled Tubing services. Exposure to some high profile operations including Coiled Tubing Drilling and the first Concentric Coiled Tubing operation in the UK, has given Michael valuable experience in many aspects of Coiled Tubing engineering and operations. In 2008 Michael was promoted to Engineering Manager within the Coiled Tubing group based in Aberdeen. Michael is an SPE member and has authored several papers relating to Coiled Tubing services. He is actively involved with ICoTA and served as chair of ICoTA European Chapter in 2013.

Lawrence Till
Technical Sales Director and co-founder of Nemein Ltd

Lawrence Till is the Technical Sales Director and co-founder of Nemein Ltd. Nemein Ltd are a downhole tool manufacturer, and offer engineering design and manufacturing services. He holds a BEng in Electromechanical Engineering from the University of Southampton. Following his exit from the British Army, his oil and gas career began offshore in the North Sea with Schlumberger Drilling and Measurements. Till has gained a wealth of experience across the industry ranging from drilling to production and has considerable experience in operations, manufacturing and sales. He is also an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Another Perspective (AP) committee in Aberdeen.