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Teresa Santana, Chief Geophysicist, Advisor and Diversity Officer, YPF

Teresa Santana: An Eager Geophysicist Challenging the Status Quo for Innovation

Teresa Santana is among pioneers in the energy industry in applied geoscience for quantitative and volume interpretation. She is an eager geophysicist who challenges the status quo for technical excellence within projects looking for innovation. Her curiosity in science, passion for physics, and mathematics enabled her decision to start her career in geophysics with the dream to predict earthquakes, and shortly decided to explore for hydrocarbons within the energy business.
After ten years working in Argentina engaged in diverse projects, from seismic acquisition design and interpretation searching for hydrocarbon accumulations, to leading integrated multi-disciplinary studies for new opportunities, Teresa commenced her international career to master in state-of-the-art leading-edge technologies in quantitative seismic interpretation to predict reservoir properties from the subsurface. As a result, she was immersed in huge global discoveries such as fields in offshore Guyana and offshore North West Australia. Then, she decided to return to Argentina, her home country, to give back her expertise to the local community.
Currently, she is the Chief Geophysicist, Diversity Officer, and Advisor in Geophysics at YPF, a company that is committed to generate the energy that is important for people and their daily lives. Her role at YPF is to ensure technical excellence in geophysics within projects. Additionally, in her function as Advisor, she is responsible for the technical assurance within YPF´s Expertise program that certifies seniorities for the geoscience community. Furthermore, her aspiration for equal business opportunities leads her to volunteer as Diversity Officer to ease the connection between the Upstream business demands and the Diversity and Inclusion committee that implements the Company D&I mission and strategy.
With very sound judgment, an interview was held between Teresa Santana and Insights Success that follows her career path, delivering fit-for purpose technical solutions to support business decisions globally.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
As a geophysicist, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Energy market?
The pandemic forced us to work collaboratively in a virtual way, maximizing the use of technology. YPF was well prepared to face the COVID challenge. All working data was already transferred to the cloud, servers and hardware were prepared for employees to work from their home when their roles allowed. For those who must be in the operations every day, there are strict protocols to protect their health.
In my experience, working remotely benefits both the work-life balance and the business efficiency. Employees earned more flexibility, accountability and responsibility, and leaders had to include soft skills to ensure empathy, quality and productivity. For the Diversity and Inclusion committee, it was an opportunity to talk about co-responsibility in domestic and care tasks.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity,” A. Einstein stated. I am a strong advocate of the huge opportunity the pandemic is giving us to optimize our leadership styles and our ways of working to confront established paradigms.
What is your thought on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to digital transformation?
It is imperative for companies to adapt to technological developments and revitalize their methods for success. From the ways of communication, data storage, leadership to business.
In geophysics, machine learning tools have been utilized for several years. Advanced algorithms, such as artificial intelligence and deep learning, are being implemented.
Digital transformation revolutionizes the subsurface data archives as well. A searchable, simple digital version of all data types, from seismic, well data to interpretation projects, needs to be in place to capture the value of historical and current data. During the past few years, YPF embarked in an intensive evaluation to select a unique seismic interpretation platform that enables project integration, collaboration and easy access to the corporate database. My role to ensure that the chosen platform satisfies geophysicists needs, was crucial to this transformation.
In what ways have you contributed to the community?
YPF promotes an environment of volunteering for career development that I spread out to the international community.
Within the Company, being a Diversity Officer allows me to recommend actions for empowerment of women and minorities in geoscience and the business. Furthermore, my passion for transmitting my experience, encouraged me to mentor interns, students, young and experienced professionals to provide them with professional growth tools to accelerate their career path.
Externally, I volunteer as a reviewer of technical papers for conferences and cv/resumes for recent graduates, as a mentor of students and professionals, and as a member of various committees for international associations, such as SEG, EAGE, AAPG.
In Diversity and Inclusion, I am an executive member of the SEG Women committee and a global ambassador for the WomenTech network, to promote and inspire other women in STEM globally for career progression and business development.
At the end of 2020, I was honored to receiving the “Technology Executive” international award in Argentina, a global technology and innovation recognition that distinguishes women leaders in technology who are an inspiration for other women and the industry at large.
In your opinion, what could be the future of Energy companies?
Energy companies need to integrate their business, adopt an equal opportunity career path, embrace digital transformation and be sustainable.
The increase in computing power in the cloud is positively affecting our working style with the ability to analyze larger quantities of data more quickly and effectively, and therefore more critical thinking and decision-making skilled geoscientists are required. A clear upgrade and evolution towards digital transformation, with training across the industry, is mandatory.
One of the large challenges facing the energy industry is decarbonizing energy production, either by introducing more renewables into the total energy combination, producing hydrocarbons in a more environmentally efficient way, or reducing the amount of carbon in the air. In addition, hydrocarbons exploration will focus on even deeper targets than those currently reached. Innovation is thus vital, and geophysics is playing an increasing and significant role in these global energy challenges.
As an established women leader in business, what would be your advice to the women in STEM aspiring to venture into the Energy sector?
Traditionally, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have been shaped by gender biases, and so has the energy business. In Latin-America and the Caribbean, only 3 out of 10 roles in STEM are occupied by women, and only 5% of them are in leadership positions. YPF is working since 2017 to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. Several initiatives were in place before the pandemic such as the D&I policy, the behavior manual, intern job posting, leadership and mentoring programs.
The Energy sector urges a substantial transformation for equity. These efforts require overcoming stereotypes, that starts at home with family education and follow with a precise action plan including awareness and training for women in leadership.
My advice to women in STEM is to follow their passion and dreams, be proactive, educate themselves, ask plenty of questions, take risks, learn quickly from mistakes, and surround themselves with smarter peers. With effort, dedication, passion, curiosity and hard work, the path to success is easier. My contribution to achieve this aspiration for equity is huge, and I will do what I have in my power to fulfill that necessity for future generations.