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Kelly Brothers and John Boehner at Houston Global Energy Conference

Kelly Brothers and John Boehner at Houston Global Energy Conference

KPMG hosted the 2017 Global Energy Conference at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on May 24-May 25. The annual conference was kicked off by the Women in Energy Executive Breakfast. With oil prices stabilizing and the period of low employee morale and anxiety hopefully behind us, the speakers focused on a more positive future.

KPMG’s conference attendees included representatives as well as executives from most of the major players in the oil and gas industry. The two day session had several interesting breakout sessions. Day 1 addressed renewables, President Trump, cognitive technology, trends in utilities, and dynamics in downstream industries. Day 2’s breakouts included mergers and acquisitions, innovation in utilities, and an accounting and reporting update.

While the networking opportunities, breakouts and plenary sessions were all very interesting, the showstoppers on both days were the luncheon keynotes. Day 1 Featued John Boehner, former speaker of the US House of Representatives who served in that capacity from 2011-2015. While Boehner was honest and unleashed, Day2 Keynote was delivered by Mark and Scott Kelly—highly decorated NASA astronauts and retired US Navy Captains.

Mark & Scott Kelly shared their earliest memories of sibling rivalry. They spoke on having a passion and desire to do the hard things and knowing that when you have a goal and a plan and the willingness to do what it takes, well the sky is definitely not the limit. They found inspiration in their mother who went from being a stay at home mom to a New Jersey police detective. The brothers were inspired by everything from Tom Cruise in the blockbuster movie, TopGun, to books and mentors. However even after getting admitted to naval flight school, their early attempts at landing their craft onto a ship resulted in instructors suggesting that each consider different careers. Given that the Kelly brothers went on to be amazing astronauts, they stressed that, “How good you are at the beginning is not how good you can become.” Practice and persistence can overcome anything. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe was key to inspiring an eighteen year old that could not even do well in school to have lofty dreams. The book led Mark to changing schools, changing majors and joining a navy commissioning program.

Both brothers independently achieved their dreams moving on from flight school to becoming NASA astronauts. In 2007 Senator Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly’s wife, survived an assassination attempt. She almost lost her life serving the country. Mark Kelly’s friend Tilman Fertitta lent him a jet to go attend to his wife in Arizona. In the immediate reporting networks pronounced Mark’s wife dead with Gabby Giffords 1970-2011 flashing across MSNBC, CNN, FOXnews, and other media outlets. Fortunately the networks were wrong and Sen. Giffords made an amazing recovery with Mark by her side using the same discipline and persistence to support his wife’s recovery.

What Mark and Scott Kelly have achieved is remarkable. Given they were twins, the physiological effects of being in space separating them over twelve months has been observed. Scott’s year in space helped identify 32 major ‘risks’ to human health. They have given their lives to serving, managing risk, and achieving that which no one thought possible.

They wrapped up the session smiling brightly in decorated blue NASA flight jackets, reminding the audience that when one has a goal, a plan, and the persistence and desire to follow through—the sky is definitely not the limit.

This was not only the highlight, but it was an uplifting and inspiring point to wrap up the conference.

About The Author

Joya Chakrabarti Shukla

Joya Chakrabarti Shukla is a project/portfolio manager with twenty years of experience in the oil and gas industry in commercial, manufacturing and technical aspects of the business. She was the 2016 President of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. Her hobbies include yoga, writing, reading, and spending time especially traveling with her family. She has an engineering degree from USC and an MBA from LSU.

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