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Kimberly Thames Padeletti, 31

Project Risk Management, BHP Billiton, Houston

Provides guidance for major capital petroleum projects (US$45B-plus). Risk responsibilities cover development, identification and implementation of deepwater, shale, and FLNG projects. Serves as a functional lead for the BHP Billiton Petroleum Investment Process. In the past 10 years, has held positions in the Middle East, Europe and North America.

Path to Ole Miss:
Attended the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science—a two-year public, advanced boarding school her last two years of high school. Chose Ole Miss for its engineering school’s small student/teacher ratio in a large liberal arts university setting, for its honors college and the ability to start on meaningful research her freshman year. “And I had a scholarship—that was a factor too.” Research focused on CO2 capture and utilization and coal combustion.

On joining Occidental Petroleum: First job out of school. “At the time, the oil and gas industry was experiencing significant growth and I was drawn to fast- paced projects, which carried more responsibility at an early age.” Was hired in upstream E&P in California and later moved to work on larger projects in Oman, Houston, Milan and Dubai. In Milan, worked on a large development project in Iraq as a JV partner with Eni (SpA).

Path to BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton’s petroleum business offered a unique project portfolio, including deepwater, shale and LNG. “Since I’d developed my conventional, onshore experience in the past eight years, it was a great new opportunity to gain exposure to these different areas.”

Mantra: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”—from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. “After reading the book, I realized it was my way of thinking before then. In life, one of the things you have to learn early is that, if you weren’t afraid, you would always be true to yourself. I was interested in math and science and challenged myself to attend a math and science high school. I had decided that, if I didn’t go, I would regret it.”

Thinks of this mantra now before any major career or personal decision. “If your circumstances allow it, don’t be afraid to seize opportunities in business and in life.”

Admires: “I’ve been fortunate to encounter many amazing leaders. The most admirable ones motivate and empower their teams to make good decisions, have strong values and listen well. They have a rare combination of strong business acumen and compassion.”

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With appreciation to Grant Thornton for their support