Early Adap­tor

In tough eco­nomic times, it’s not about what you’re given, but what you do with it

Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER - – By Wil­low White

RUTH AMARILLA IS QUICK TO BOAST THAT SHE HAS A LOT of fun at work. But that doesn’t mean what she does is easy. The Ar­gen­tinian-born man­ager at Cono­coPhillips Canada over­sees the com­pany’s strate­gic spend­ing. It’s an im­por­tant role at the best of times. And dur­ing times of fall­ing com­mod­ity prices and com­pany-wide lay­offs, get­ting the job done right is ab­so­lutely cru­cial.

Amarilla’s day in­volves find­ing cost-sav­ings in the com­pany. She sorts through enor­mous amounts of data, look­ing for the key pieces that will com­plete the puz­zle. If the task sounds ar­du­ous, that’s be­cause it is. “Some­times I think that the most chal­leng­ing thing is [just] to find the right data,” Amarilla says. And, given the un­prece­dented amount of data avail­able to­day, that chal­lenge has never been greater, or more fi­nan­cially re­ward­ing. “In times of ad­ver­sity you need to be more ef­fi­cient and pro­vide a dif­fer­ent type of value.” It’s a les­son she’s learned in both her per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life.

Orig­i­nally from Rosario, Ar­gentina, the 42-year-old Amarilla says she knew from an early age that she loved to learn. She adopted her par­ents’ strong work ethic and fo­cused on her stud­ies. “Ev­ery­thing that I got at the be­gin­ning was from them,” she says. Af­ter high school, Amarilla pur­sued a de­gree in engi­neer­ing at the Univer­si­dad Ca­tolica Ar­gentina and, later, an MBA at the Uni­ver­sity of CEMA in Buenos Aires. She started her ca­reer at Te­naris, an Ar­gen­tinian man­u­fac­turer and sup­plier of pipe prod­ucts for the oil and gas in­dus­try. But in the early 2000s, Ar­gentina’s eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal land­scape was in tur­moil. Safety be­came an in­creas­ingly vi­tal con­cern for Amarilla un­til, even­tu­ally, it be­came a pri­or­ity.

In 2004, Amarilla and her hus­band moved to Canada. They had no fam­ily or con­nec­tions in the coun­try, but they val­ued its rep­u­ta­tion as a di­verse and wel­com­ing place to live. “We re­ally wanted to know dif­fer­ent cul­tures and we weren’t re­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that [in Ar­gentina],” Amarilla says. “We saw that [Canada] was a great coun­try to work in and meet peo­ple.”

Shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing, Amarilla was able to se­cure a job with Te­naris Canada in Cal­gary, but she didn’t stop there. She went back to school and got her mas­ter’s de­gree in engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary with a fo­cus on pro­gram man­age­ment, as well as her PEng from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­fes­sional En­gi­neers and Geo­sci­en­tists of Al­berta (APEGA). When Cono­coPhillips Canada needed some­one to im­ple­ment strate­gic spend­ing changes within the com­pany’s sup­ply chain sys­tem in 2012, Amarilla found her­self in the right place at the right time.

Find­ing cost ef­fi­ciency has be­come some­thing of a mantra in the en­ergy busi­ness lately. But it’s a mantra Amarilla has taken to heart at Cono­coPhillips. “One of my big­gest suc­cesses at work is re­lated to the devel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of a pro­gram that changed the sup­ply chain man­age­ment ap­proach within our com­pany,” says Amarilla. “In oil and gas, you have to be flex­i­ble and adapt to dif­fer­ent needs.”

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