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Three Houston Innovators You Should Know This Week

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When Stephanie Herzog first began her role as CEO of Houston-based Sodexo Energy & Resources North America in the fall of 2019, she visited some of the facility management company’s 100 million customers each week. ..

“In fact, I had a conversation with my assistant in early March.” Okay, my goal is not to go out every week by April. Let’s do this, at least every other week, “she said. It was. recall. Shortly thereafter, the world changed, forcing her to stop all travel and lead the company to innovate in one or more ways by March 10.

“When we think about innovation, we often think about technology, but in the way we do everything we have had to innovate so much in the last 12 months,” she said. say. “Last year we asked many teams really about how they need to be rethinking, innovative and adaptable.”

For Herzog, it is this adaptation and innovation she saw last year that enables her industry to support the energy transition and “maintain” beyond pandemics and the inevitable future recession.

InnovationMap spoke with Hertzog about the importance of adaptation in the energy industry, the new technologies Sodexo has implemented in its efforts, and how the diverse workforce plays a role in all of this.

InnovationMap: Why is it important for the energy industry to stay adapted and innovative?

Stephanie Hertzog: The energy industry is often considered a little older school. As an industry, we have truly embraced technology for decades. And I really think that’s what allowed us to survive all the downcycles.

In today’s era of renewable energy expanding its market share, there is growing enthusiasm for carbon reduction efforts. And technology will be at the forefront of that energy shift. Technology will be a big part of how we continue to provide affordable energy for the foreseeable future.

IM: You are originally from the Houston area. How will it change and what’s exciting about Houston’s future?

SH: I’m most excited about Houston and I’m most proud of it in that we’re always a very diverse and international city. Many of them have been driven by energy businesses for many years and have attracted people from all over the world, but they also have a large immigrant population. And I think diversity really led us to entrepreneurship. Thinking about innovation and technology, having that diverse mindset and opinion has allowed us to remain leaders in the field. I’ve been a big city since I was young, but it’s growing. And we are seeing more and more people transplanting here from other parts of the country. And I think it’s exciting to see us becoming more diverse in the economy as well.

IM: Why is it important to have a diverse workforce from a business perspective?

SH: There is a lot of research on this topic. It’s very clear that companies with more diverse leadership teams are better than those without. As a result, the diversity of rooms allows people to ask different questions, have more discussions, and ask more questions about the status quo.

IM: What was the most influential adaptation in your industry in recent years?

SH: It really incorporates software technology. The mobile aspect of being able to retrieve data from a mobile phone has made it possible to deploy many systems. For example, you can better track tasks and ensure that you work to optimize your cleaning schedule. There are many things we used to do on paper on our current electronic sites. This allows you to compare a site to a site to see not only the performance of that site, but also the performance of that site and the performance of other sites. .. It’s about doing what we really do well as efficiently as possible.

There are recent innovations we have been working on. For example, augmented reality glasses that allow someone on an offshore platform to wear glasses and return to the Houston office tower to see what they are seeing almost through their own eyes. My eyes. This is an example of how things can be done faster. You don’t have to physically move someone to the platform. You can get them in real time. And there are many such things. It opens up an all new world.

IM: Why is augmented reality a particularly useful tool in the energy industry?

SH: I’ve already explained it from the perspective of efficiency, which allows you to gain expertise in the field without having to physically go out. But the other aspect is the safety factor. We always strive to be on-site with as few people as possible simply because these environments essentially require some degree of safety. Some things are as easy as actually getting out on the offshore platform, you have to be helicopter trained. But also, heaven is forbidden, something should happen on that platform where you don’t want as many people out there.

IM: Did the pandemic play any role in facilitating the adaptation of these technologies?

SH: Yes. We were looking for a better way to do what we could do remotely. That was everything from these glasses to video conferencing. We usually do a safety walk directly, but how can we do a safety walk remotely? So I think I had to try to improve the experience of being there at any opportunity, but I wasn’t there and everything escalated.

IM: Given Women’s History Month, why is it important to focus on women’s inclusion as the energy industry moves forward?

SH: I think the business case is the same as the one explained earlier. Diversity at all levels of the energy sector will result in better results and more success. And it’s really important in energy because we weren’t good at this. Especially when it comes to gender dynamics, historically there wasn’t much expression of women when looking at the highest levels of energy space. We have begun some intrusions, but there is still a long way to go. Part of that was a pipeline issue. Many energy business leaders are engineers.And [women] Currently, about 40% of engineers have graduated from undergraduate school, so they are approaching the same level. However, there is a big gap from that first manager position to the loss of women along the way.

We haven’t kept pace with the long-standing pace of getting women into the business. Companies have to make real efforts here. Indeed, the year the United States was around racial division, I think it’s an important topic we’re talking about. And we all need to focus on getting more inclusion as well as diversity. It’s not just about hiring diverse groups, it’s about making them feel they’re involved when they come here and wanting them to stay and be part of our industry. From a Houston perspective, we continue to be a big part of the economy here. So if things go wrong, Houston will have a hard time.

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