Editor’s Note: Dolores Wharton of Cooperstown and NYC, the SUNY system’s former First Lady, was the first black woman, as well as the first black, on a number of Fortune 500 boards. In her new memoir, “A Multicultural Life,” she describes Phillips Petroleum directors’ 1990 camaraderie-building trip to a North Sea oil rig, which helped “the old guard (adjust) to us interlopers.”
By DOLORES WHARTON • from “A Multicultural Life”
The intense exchanges during our meetings soon relaxed as the old guard adjusted to us interlopers. A sense of camaraderie evolved during a field trip undertaken by the entire board and company officers to ekofisk, the gigantic oil drilling platform twenty miles off the coast of Norway. That trip – the full board’s first-ever excursion to the platform – was at my request and to fulfill my desire to experience an actual drilling platform located in the North Sea.
Discovered in 1969, Ekofisk oil field, was so huge that at its peak, its oil and gas output amounted to more than a third of Phillips’ total energy production. Our party, arriving from different parts of the United States, gathered in London. From there, one of the company’s ocean-crossing planes took us to Stavanger, Norway, where a twenty-passenger helicopter that droned for two hours, brought us over the vast North Sea.