Intrepid traveller lands unconventional opportunity – meet Charlsie Neutzler
What do you get when you cross a Texan with ‘the Big Australian’? A Graduate Reservoir Engineer with a passion for travel called Charlsie Neutzler.
Charlsie Neutzler’s parents both worked in oil and gas, and she grew up hearing how much they enjoyed the industry. In March 2015, Charlsie joined our Petroleum Business as a Graduate Reservoir Engineer, working on the Haynesville shale asset located in the US state of Louisiana. There, she benchmarks our wells against those operated by other companies.
‘Our Haynesville wells are not just owned by one company, but whoever has the majority interest is the “operator”,’ Charlsie explained. ‘I assess whether or not we want to participate in that well based on what we know about how they operate and their typical performance in the field. What’s interesting about this role is that if we benchmark ourselves against other operators, we can see what we are doing well and what we can improve upon at our own operations.’
During her time as a liberal arts and petroleum engineering student at The University of Texas in Austin, Charlsie interned twice with BHP Billiton – once in the Gulf of Mexico production unit working on our Shenzi Asset, and the next summer in the Eagleford production unit on Blackhawk. ‘On campus, BHP Billiton was known as the “Australian” company as it had just acquired its shale assets,’ Charlsie said. ‘But after my second internship and the efforts of the human resources team and others at BHP Billiton, it became known for its great benefits and the opportunities it gives young engineers around campus. One of the main things I remember was when the market started to decline, some companies were beginning to rescind full-time offers to seniors; BHP Billiton didn’t. I think that keeping our word on the offers builds up a reputation that students and teachers respect, remember, and appreciate later on.’
Although she also interned at other oil and gas companies, Charlsie chose to work for BHP Billiton after graduating because of the breadth of experience it promised her. ‘BHP Billiton is so unique in that it’s an oil and gas company, but that is just one pillar of a whole organisation. Even within oil and gas, you can work both an unconventional asset and a conventional asset within your first two years of working. You can also work on assets from around the world, in Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, the Gulf of Mexico, and in the US.’
However, the Company’s size also gave Charlsie reservations. ‘I thought I would get lost at a big company, and not get a lot of responsibility and ability to grow,’ she said. ‘But after my internships, I realised I would have responsibility right off the bat. As a graduate I feel like the decisions I make really do affect the Company, and I meanwhile benefit from the guidance and experience of my supervisor and managers.’
Two aspects of BHP Billiton that have resonated with Charlsie are Our Charter values and our culture. ‘In my first year, I attended a residential, where graduates meet for a week to discuss our initial work experiences and how we can improve. We talked about the history of Our Charter values and their importance to both our success and the Company’s success. I’ve also noticed the step-up culture, where even as a graduate I feel like I’m expected to step-up and make a difference for my team. The only way we can learn is to take chances.’ Charlsie also said she’s seen the ‘speak up’ culture take root within the past year. ‘No matter your background or experience, we’re told to speak up about anything and everything, even if it’s unpopular,’ she said. ‘We want to get all ideas on the table because often the final plan comes from multiple ideas, not just one.’
One of the highlights of her time at BHP Billiton has been getting involved in SPARK, a young professionals group that holds events and tournaments in sports such as kickball, flag football and volleyball. ‘We get to meet people outside of our team and production unit who you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet,’ Charlsie said. In fact, if she were CEO for a day, Charlsie would focus on getting people to mix beyond their immediate teams, to help this flow of ideas. ‘This could be eating lunch with someone new once a month, joining a volunteer organisation, or being involved in an organisation like SPARK. It’s important to get people to branch out and network with others so we can further our quest to be more integrated between all the different parts of our Company and constantly learn from each other.’
Her thirst for new experiences and to learn from others has taken Charlsie around the world, and she’s keen for more. ‘I was born and raised in Texas, and both my parents are from here. But I want to see the world, so I spent one summer of high school studying in Seville, Spain. Then I travelled through Europe to Berlin, Prague, Munich, Amsterdam and Paris for two weeks between my internship with BHP Billiton and university. Between graduating and starting work with BHP Billiton in March 2015, I also travelled to Thailand.’
Despite a yen for travel, Charlsie’s role model is a little closer to home. ‘As much as I have thought about this question, I keep coming back to my father,’ she said. ‘He really is a man of integrity, and respect – probably all Our Charter values, honestly. People and his co-workers truly respect and trust him because he treats everyone else with respect and trust. He’s been retired for two years now, and his past teams and managers constantly call him for advice and guidance. Also as I am working now, I appreciate and am dumbfounded that he made every softball, volleyball, and soccer game when I was kid through high school!’
While at work, Charlsie says she is learning ‘anything and everything’ from her team. ‘Their experience is invaluable to making my workflow more efficient and productive. The majority of the time when I’m working on a project, someone on my team has an insight or experience that can help me get my work done faster and easier,’ she said. ‘As someone new to the team, I think I contribute by asking a lot of questions, which can help teams go back to the basics and ask why we do it this way and make sure it is the best way possible to approach a problem.’
Looking to the future, Charlsie hopes the next 10 years bring more opportunities to see the world. ‘It’s easy to get complacent and comfortable, but traveling forces you out of your comfort zone into something unfamiliar which allows you to learn about yourself and others.’