Retired Shell Employee Shares How She Transitioned to Board Service
“To whom much is given, much is expected.”
That’s what Stacy Methvin’s father always told her as she was growing up. And it’s something that stuck with her throughout her life. Methvin, who retired from Shell Oil Company in 2012 after 33 years of service, spoke to attendees at a Women’s Energy Network luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
“When I look back on my journey and where I am today, I realize giving back has always been a goal of mine,” said Methvin. “It’s shaped me as a person and helped me get into the positions I’m in today.”
Methvin graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a geology degree and began her career with Shell the same year as a geological engineer. Throughout her career, she worked for her company in different capacities and eventually moved to – and fell in love with – refining and the downstream sector of the industry.
Now, post-retirement, Methvin remains very busy because of her board involvement. She shared with luncheon attendees how she made her journey to board service.
It began when Methvin was given the opportunity to be a part of the American Leadership Forum, an organization that brings together for-profit and not-for-profit community leaders and teaches them about collaborative leadership.
That planted the seed.
Drawing from causes and areas she was passionate about, Methvin became a member of several boards, both for-profit and not-for-profit. She sits on boards for the Houston Zoo, the Girl Scouts, Pioneer Natural Resources and Magellan Midstream Partners, to name a few.
She learned some valuable lessons throughout her time at Shell that she was able to exhibit in her board leadership, such as finding solutions rather than pointing out problems, being a good listener so that people aren’t afraid to bring you “the bad news” and the importance of taking lateral assignments so as to get a breadth and depth of what it takes to become a great leader.
She provided the following insights for those considering public board service:
- Use placement firms: “A lot of boards today use much more structured processes. I really got my resume out and those placement firms allow me to get on some of the boards I serve on now.”
- Make sure the interview process is a two-way street: “While the board is looking to see how you’ll fit in with the culture and assessing the skills you bring to the table, you also have to ask yourself if the board’s culture works for you.”
- Take time in selecting a board: “Boards in the U.S. do not have retirement ages and people rarely leave. While it’s not a mandatory commitment, it would be frowned upon to come on a board and leave after a couple of years.”
- Familiarize yourself with directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance: “Make sure you understand the D&O policy. Hire a lawyer to explain it to you and make sure you are covered well.”
- Understand the compensation: “Compensation is quite good, but does vary significantly based on the market cap in the company. All this information is available in the proxy statement, but be aware most of it is held as equity in the company. It’s very little in a cash stipend each year.”
- Be aware of the time commitment: “On the surface, it may look like it’s just board meetings, but there is travel time and other factors to consider. You need to stay up-to-date on the industry. I probably spend an hour or two each day trying to stay up-to-date on what’s happening across the globe.”
A real challenge, Methvin noted, is the lack of women representation on U.S. boards.
“Boards are getting diversified in our industry, but they’re just starting,” she said. “If you’re the first woman on a board, you need to be ready. You have to teach the guys how to adapt to the new person in the room.”
Methvin, who is the only woman on the board for Magellan, said it’s not always the best situation to have just one woman on a board.
“There’s some people who say you need to have at least three women on a board, which I think is a great goal, but it’s a long way from what you’re going to encounter in most places,” she said. “When I left Shell, there were fewer than 14 percent women in our senior leadership group, and they were retiring rapidly.”
Methvin hopes to encourage and mentor young women and is happy about her decision to become involved in board service.
“After retiring, I embarked on a great, new life,” she said. “We each make choices based on what is important to us, and I chose to turn my success from helping companies into helping people that those companies help.”
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Senior Editor | Rigzone