Interview with Anelisse Chanakos, WebCreek’s Energy Practice and Project Manager
The Woodlands in Houston, Texas is a city formed in 1974, in order to join innovation, diversity, and modern lifestyle. That’s where the headquarters of WebCreek are found, and where a collaborator of our international team works. Through an interview, Anelisse Chanakos helps us get to know, from the feminine point of view, how a software company supports and traces the future of the global energy industry. We chatted a few days in advance, and when it came time to meet for our interview, I could tell how saturated this woman’s agenda really is. I thanked her for having given me a few minutes of her time, and for her testimony about our company’s energy projects.
Rafa: How did you get involved in the Oil and Gas Industry? I see that you’ve developed your career with businesses of this sector; tell us about your trajectory.
Anelisse Chanakos: I started over 12 years ago, when I entered to work at Halliburton. They contracted me to be a field engineer in the Wireline department. I’m an electronic engineer, so I didn’t necessarily have to work in the oil industry. But my dad was a geologist, and through him, I met a lot of people from service companies. I was familiar with what it means to work for an oil company and it always interested me. I started applying in Canada, which is where I found my first job. I worked as a field engineer, going to the drills. I had a team of 3 or 4 operators; I went in a truck, called a logging truck. And, well, we put the tools in the well and used them to determine if there was water, or gas, or oil. And that’s how I coexisted with people that worked in this: drilling engineers, company men, tool pushers. I learned a lot working in the offshore and inline drill lines; that is, I worked on land and on the coast. In this speciality, I worked in Canada, Australia, and Thailand.
Rafa: So, your dad was a geologist, right?
Anelisse Chanakos: Yes, correct. And this was what inspired me to enter the oil industry. And, well, I ended up studying electrical engineering because I always focused on my career being related to the future: electronic, technological, things like that. So I looked for a way to enter the oil industry in spite of the fact that my degree wasn’t what they were looking for. The opportunity came and I’m still here. Although now I’m in a software development company, I’m still working on projects in the oil industry.
Rafa: Anelisse, can you go deeper about your experience in energy projects?
Anelisse Chanakos: My story is more or less this: I graduated from university, went to study English in Canada, stayed there to live, and got my first job. From there, I went to Australia, from there to Thailand, and then to the United States.
Rafa: How do you apply your knowledge as Energy Practices Project Manager in your work at WebCreek?
Anelisse Chanakos: This is really interesting because when I was working in the oil industry, many of the projects using a certain methodology. Here at WebCreek, we are trying to make a hybrid, and at the same time have a clear definition of the scope that allows us to turn it in appropriately. And about how I am applying my knowledge: well, based on the knowledge that I have about how the oil industry functions. I have 12 years of experience in this field, and I know more or less the clients’ expectations– what’s most important, what they want to see. I know that turning projects in on time is very, very, very important. I’m trying to really understand the clients’ needs, and then, put them on paper and see if we can fulfill their requirements. From there, I want to implement the appropriate methodology. The change is very constant and present in the software development industry. Despite the fact that we are working with energy projects, it’s about surpassing client expectations. This is what I’m trying to implement here–knowing exactly what they are, welcoming change in order to be on the same schedule, and have control of the scope.
Rafa: And about that, How are the leadership teams at WebCreek organized?
Anelisse Chanakos: Well, I’m in charge of 3 clients. And on my teams, there is a project lead, a business analyst, developers, and a QA, all working together. That’s how almost all our projects are structured.
Rafa: What are WebCreek’s strengths in offering tech services to our clients in the oil and gas industry?
Anelisse Chanakos: Above all, knowledge. I’ve worked hand in hand in the drills, working in the field, interacting with people at the office. So I understand really well what our clients are looking for and what they need. It’s something that I’ve learned well through my experience. One of WebCreek’s characteristics is that we don’t only offer developers, but we also have a whole team that satisfies client needs based on our own experience. On top of this, we offer advice and have a creative team that’s outstanding, always proposing great user interfaces. I believe that these are our strong points, and of course, great developers who get the job done as soon as they know its requirements.
Rafa: Are there any lessons about WebCreek’s nearshoring philosophy and strategy, learned while working with remote teams in various cities, that you’d like to share with other companies in the same field?
Anelisse Chanakos: One thing that I’ve learned, given that we’re a nearshoring company and I’m the interface here in Houston, for our team in Ecuador, and in Latin America for our clients; something that’s been very important is learning to listen and understand what the client needs. Many times, we listen but we don’t understand. And, of course, if the message gets twisted and we don’t understand what exactly they want, I pass it incorrectly to my other nearshore office. Then, we don’t really fulfill the client’s expectations. So listening and understanding is vital. For me, communication is the key and is very delicate because we have teams that aren’t working here in Houston, and we have to clearly understand what the client wants– asking the right questions and being attentive to the answers. We must solve whatever doubts arise until we have a clear understanding; then, we communicate to the whole team in Latin America. This is very, very, very important. And in my experience, when projects fail, the majority of times it’s for lack of communication. So, for me, communication between us and the client should be clear from the start; I’ve learned this through failure, too. At the start, you always have to clearly understand what you have to do. Things will change here and there, but the main idea should always remain throughout the entirety of the project.
Rafa: What’s your perception of the feminine presence in the oil industry? Have you found many women leaders in this field?
Anelisse Chanakos: Yes, I’ve found a number, although there are obviously more men. But some stand out; they are very smart, very capable, and they’ve been able to develop in the industry in spite of the fact that they’re women. I don’t believe that there’s stigmatization; I mean, if a woman enters the oil industry and is capable of doing the job and standing out, there are no limits.
Rafa: Can you share a tip with us about the strategy behind the next expansion of our offices in Colorado and California?
Anelisse Chanakos: The strategy is to continue offering good software products, web apps, and mobile apps to the rest of the United States. Since we have a super talented group of people working in the same time zone, we can create really good applications. We have the intention of continuing to offer the market process optimizations, and more, process automation, with very capable people who understand how to do this and can augment client productivity. And we aim to continue growing with our good reputation, of course.
Rafa: In personal life, we know that you are a flamenco dancer. Tell us a bit about this affinity.
Anelisse Chanakos: Okay, that started was I was very young. I was about 12 years old, and I always liked flamenco. I remember that I saw it on a tv program and was blown away. Later, at about 15 years old, I started to really dance. I was in a flamenco school and did various shows, that is, in a group. I’ve never done an individual show. Later, when I was 18, I had to stop because I was really busy and didn’t have time. I stopped in high school and went to Canada, and although I’ve always like flamenco, I went about 20 years without dancing. Then when I moved to Houston, I looked for schools and got a teacher and picked it back up. I’ve now been dancing again for almost 2 years and had a show in July. It is spec-tac-u-lar. It’s a dance with lots of passion, so I like it a lot. You can transmit a lot of the singer’s and the music’s emotion through the dance. I like it a lot. I don’t plan to stop it again, that I’ve sure of; I’m going to make time to keep dancing.
Rafa: Those are all the questions that I had prepared. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Anelisse Chanakos: What can I say? Super! I’m very happy to be part of WebCreek and be part of the company’s expansion, to keep offering good products for the oil industry here in the US and, well, the world. If we have the chance to do this in even more countries, that’d be great; we have very capable teams that are apt to work. They are always attentive to the projects’ needs. Teamwork is something very important that I like about WebCreek. Everyone is ready to help each other meet goals; that’s not something you get everywhere.
I thanked Anelisse for her time and, while I transcribed the interview, I remembered what she said– about her start in the energy sector being inspired by her dad, and how she likes flamenco for its ability to transform emotion into dance. And in a way, that’s how we work here at WebCreek: we turn client wishes into an emotion that’s transmitted with a passion to our teams. It’s as if they are taught the steps to a dance destined to fulfill an expectation and give satisfaction. What a pleasure it is to work with sensitive and creative people, who at the same time allow art and emotion to influence them so that, in the end, everything flows. It’s energy carried along the channel of the precise dots that connect our world.