Melissa Stark is in an enviable position as Managing Director Energy Industry Group for Accenture. She carries impressive educational credentials that, along with 18 years of working in every energy sector, place her in a key post with the global consulting giant.
Stark was the assistant chair to the Technology Task Group of the National Petroleum Council's Future of Transportation Fuels Study (Advancing Technology for America's Transportation Future) commissioned by Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. The study was released in August 2012 and focused on different engine/ platform/fuel options for the U.S. through 2050, including advanced engines and platforms, biofuels, electrification, natural gas, and hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles.
Based in London, Stark has an MBA with Distinction (honors) in transportation management from J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She also has a bachelor's degree in science (honors) in finance from the Haas School at the University of California at Berkeley.
P&GJ: Melissa, where are you from and what were some of your interests growing up?
Stark: I grew up in Northern California. I was the daughter of an electrical and a chemical engineer, so I was exposed to science, technology and math from an early age. I like math and ended up with a BSc in finance from U.C. Berkeley. I thought I was going to be a derivatives trader until I got a feel for the culture, and it wasn't a good fit for me. I went into management consulting instead.
P&GJ: What prompted you to decide on a career in the energy industry?
Stark: In 1994, I was working in supply chain and got staffed on an offshore logistics project in Peterhead, Scotland. I was impressed with the physical scale of the operations in the U.K. North Sea and the opportunity to work in an industry that was so material to the global economy. It was on that first project that I decided I wanted to work in energy.
P&GJ: When did you join Accenture, and what is your role with the Energy Industry Group?
Stark: I joined Accenture in 1993. 1 have had various roles in energy--clean energy lead, unconventional resources lead, and am now leading our community for natural gas and LNG.
P&GJ: What is your perspective on the future of fossil fuels? Will we see continued development of unconventional sources in what is still a low-price environment, or has the shale revolution peaked?
Stark: I think the low oil price environment has strengthened the role of unconventionals, a point of view I have held for some time now. It's not only the continued fall in costs and improvements in productivity that we are seeing in the Permian and Marcellus basins. For oil companies having both conventional and unconventional assets in their...