|Date of Birth:||1970||Age Now:||36|
|Age when missing:||32||Height (cm):||Build:|
|Hair Colour:||Eye Colour:||Complexion:|
|Circumstances - Louisa was last sighted on the 14th of May 2003 at her house in Lewisham.|
This issue of Energy News introduces a new column in which we talk to members
about their roles in the energy sector.
By Philip Hobbs
From ABARE to Shell
Louisa Wawn has a very simple reason for being fascinated by the energy sector. “For me,” she said, “energy fuels human well-being; heat, light, transport, electricity allow people to live their dreams.”
It’s a notion that perhaps escapes many, but it is what guided Louisa into the energy industry where she is now Commercial Manager of Shell’s Clyde Refinery in Sydney—a business which supplies 40% of NSW’s petrol, diesel and aviation fuels.
“I’m trained as an economist,” Louisa said. “When I graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra I was not entirely clear about what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to do macro economics, things such as fiscal policy or work at the Reserve Bank or any of the private banks. It’s interesting, but it’s not me.
“My interest is in things micro. What makes companies and industries tick. What they do. How do they react? But I had no idea in which industry I wanted to work.”
Louisa then did what she describes as the traditional economist’s stint in the public sector. She chose the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) in Canberra.
“I joined ABARE in 1994 where I was a minor cog in the energy area doing stats and some market forecasting in electricity and gas. It was about the time that deregulation was starting in the electricity industry.
“It was absolutely fascinating being exposed to the energy industry. But I wasn’t wedded to the public sector. Although I enjoyed my time at ABARE I had a yearning for a bottom line, it’s discipline and focus. So I looked for opportunities in the private sector energy. I had no preference for any company other than that it have an international view.”
This desire led Louisa to Shell through its graduate employment program. An element of the rigorous selection process was having to write a 1500-word essay on a topic of choice.
“Being an unashamed pro-market individual, my topic was the funding of
education,” she said. “Most of the others wrote about greenhouse and nuclear
Her essay and deft analytical skills got Louisa through the Shell door.
“Since then I have been blessed with a variety of project and operational experiences. Much of my first four years at Shell were spent working on power privatisation, looking at buying existing power stations and building new ones. In the mid-90s, Shell made the strategic decision globally to get into power generation. I was fortunate to be part of the team that progressed this vision in Australia.”
In particular this involved economic evaluation of Callide C power station in Queensland, an $800m joint venture between Shell and the Queensland Government.
“After Callide, I wanted more operational experience.” Louisa said. “I’m now lucky to be part of the team running Clyde refinery. My role as Commercial Manager has three main strands: delivering budgets and management information systems; managing interfaces with internal customers—Shell’s marketing arms; and managing quality systems.”
“I don’t pretend to be a technical expert. My role is to work with skilled technical people to deliver good business outcomes. A big part of that is significantly reducing our $75m annual operating budget. Cost minimisation is a constant challenge in commodity businesses.”
On a broader energy perspective, Louisa believes there are three main
issues facing the Australian energy sector.
Translating our greenhouse commitments into action is a big issue. “We know that full delivery of Kyoto would be crippling on the Australian economy, but there are plenty of no regrets things that we can do.
“I think we’ll end up with nothing like the Kyoto agreement, but people will be more aware and sensitive about the environment and what they can do as individuals to reduce greenhouse impacts.”
On the deregulation journey, “we’re hearing a lot of noise at the moment. The problem will sort itself out. I’ve no doubt that Australia will get to a more deregulated energy market, but it’ll take longer than most businesses and consumers want. Incomplete deregulation can be more dangerous than none at all as Californian energy consumers are currently finding out. By 2005 – 2010, when the regulatory scene is more open and competitive, fuel quality specifications and alternative energies will dominate the energy debate.”
In between looking after Shell’s Clyde bottom line, Louisa is a member of the AIE organising committee for the institute’s annual conference in Sydney in November (see story Page 117).
She also takes much interest in AIE affairs and looks forward to seeing stronger commercial representation among the membership.
In the meantime Louisa is keeping a weather eye on next opportunities
within the Shell world. “My hope is to spend some time in Asia….Shanghai would
be fascinating, but time will tell….”