The first annual Women in Energy Summit was held at The Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH on June 5, 2013. It was the first conference held of its type, an educational and networking forum for women in the heating oil and propane industry. The event included business sessions, exhibitors and a luncheon.
The summit finally took place after two false starts, the first cancellation attributed to bad timing and the second attributed to bad luck as Hurricane Sandy arrived the day before the scheduled event.
‘It is never easy to launch a new concept in any industry or trade, but resilience, hard work, and a unilateral focus on making this happen resulted in a magical day,” said Richard Larkin, president of Hedge Solutions. ‘The vision from the start was to create an event focused solely on the challenges and issues that women face in an industry dominated by the male gender.”
Over 75 attendees registered, with a total head count of 93 after including speakers, exhibitors, and support staff. The agenda blended motivational stories, real life experiences, frank discussions around women in the workplace, and light topics, such as how to dress in the modern day professional workplace.
The speakers included Rhonda Kallman, the founding partner of Boston Beer Company, the brewers of the award-winning Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and Liz Walker, an ordained minister, award-winning television news journalist, entrepreneur and humanitarian currently working in the Sudan.
Also during the event, a number of women in the industry participated in a panel discussion called ‘Women: The Power of Change.” The panelists included Tracy Richmond, co-president of AVATAS Payment Solutions in Newton, Mass.; Megan Smith-Gill, chief marketing officer for Gault Family of businesses in Fairfield-County, Conn.; Sharon Peterson, comptroller for Apple Oil Company in West Haven, Conn.; and Andrea Grant, who has practiced before numerous agencies of the Federal Government and Congress. The panelists shared their insights and tips on industry specific topics including personal development and motivation.
In the afternoon, there were two special sessions: ‘Defining Your Personal Brand with Style,” given by Susan Osborne, image and fashion consultant and licensed makeover stylist, and ‘Standing in Your Power and Achieving Your Dreams,” by Lauran Star, author, leadership coach and entrepreneur.
‘I could not be more pleased and gratified at how well this event played out! I’m so appreciative of my employees, the panelists that were generous enough to participate, and the women who took the time to show up and attend what turned into a unique and magical experience!” said Larkin. ‘Tracy (Richmond), Megan (Gill-Smith), Sharon (Peterson), and Andrea (Grant) both mesmerized and engaged the crowd with their compelling stories and the experiences that they shared. I’m overwhelmed with pride to have launched this first of a kind event and look forward to passing the baton. I am also hopeful that a legacy emerges when this event ends up on the calendar repeatedly in the future, which will easily grow in size and scope.
‘The sponsors, which were difficult to come by, deserve an enormous dose of credit for stepping up and supporting this event. Global Petroleum, ADDS Systems, AVATAS, Cargas, Warm Thoughts, Cetane Associates, and Irving all contributed and provided financial and personnel support. Lastly, a big applause to Leslie Sturgeon and her organization for pulling off what I never could have hoped to do, left to my own devices.”
Feedback after the event has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Larkin. In fact, many of the women have expressed a desire and intent to be part of the next summit and to serve on the committee. Larkin shared some of the messages that he received, including this from conference attendee Leslie Peckham:
‘I wanted to tell you that I thought the Women in Energy Summit was a huge success!! Congratulations for pulling this all together. Leslie Sturgeon did a great job. All the presentations were outstanding and uplifting. And there’s no question that this filled a big gap in the industry, especially as there are more and more women holding important and significant positions. And there’s no doubt this will continue to grow and make an ongoing contribution to women in the industry.”