In 2019, Karen Davis, her husband and colleague Dean and their teenage son Chase packed up their Katy, Texas, home and moved to Doha, Qatar.
Their firstborn son, Schuyler, stayed behind to start college in the States. A veteran master mariner, Karen had held leadership positions at ConocoPhillips in Marine Safety and Security, Compliance, Operations and Assurance before accepting a secondment to Qatargas in a familiar marine assurance role.
But Qatargas and the universe would conspire to keep Karen on her toes. Her new job morphed almost immediately into leading ship owner prequalification and technical approval process for the North Field expansion project, a campaign to increase Qatar’s liquefied natural gas production capacity.
“That was a quick change,” Karen said. “But in six months we prequalified more than 30 operators.”
On a whirlwind tour around the world, Karen and her new team audited companies that wanted to be a part of the business. Then in early 2020, the pandemic changed everything again. The auditing process, like so much else in post-pandemic life, went virtual.
“We did the best we could, engaging with the operators online, sometimes in three different time zones at the same time,” she said.
OCIMF is a forum for leveraging expertise across its member organizations and industry partners for the benefit of the global marine industry.
By working collaboratively to develop tools and resources to help the marine industry respond to ever-changing risks, OCIMF seeks to continuously improve safety, security, health and environmental performance.
Another surprise was just around the corner. In late 2021, Karen was named managing director of Oil Companies International Marine Forum, a three-year secondment leadership role. Karen is the first woman and the first representative of ConocoPhillips or its legacy companies to be named to this prestigious position in the organization’s 50-year history.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I have so much respect for OCIMF,” she said. “I’ve referenced OCIMF documents throughout my career and I’m happy to now be part of and give back to the organization.”
Karen said the new role “rings all the bells” for her. “As a woman in industry, it supports the idea that you don’t have to be invisible in your diversity.”
Karen points out that shipping has always been a diverse industry with a long history of mariners of different backgrounds and educations from all over the world.
“As a new mariner out to sea in my earlier years, I thought success was in being good at what I did. And I thought being invisible in my difference was the best way to get by. Now, I believe that, while you must be confident, being original, being true to yourself, is just as important.
“This role is a privilege and I’m humbled to be able to represent the progress that the maritime industry is making. I hope it sends a message to young people that it’s important to live out your diversity and be proud of it.”
Karen acknowledges that Schuyler and Chase never saw her career as anything special. “I don’t even think they know that I sailed captain for some time. But I am Captain Mom at home.”
There were high fives all around when she told them about the OCIMF role and then “everybody went off to do their own thing.”
“Deep down, they’re excited. They know the role is big and they’ll continue to support me like they always have.” Now, the family is packing up their short-lived Qatar home for the move to London to begin her secondment with OCIMF.
There, Chase will finish his high school senior year, and Dean will continue to support the Qatargas LNG project. Schuyler, still back in the States, is planning to go out to sea in early 2022, following in his parents’ footsteps.
“In London, I’ll be wearing jumpers instead of my linen whites from Qatar,” Karen said. “And I’ll learn to use the Tube to get around. I’m grateful for all the people who have helped me along the way, and it just makes me proud to represent ConocoPhillips.”
For more information visit www.conocophillips.com