Amy Chronis on championing change in the energy industry has been saved
Life at Deloitte
Amy Chronis on championing change in the energy industry
Deloitte is proud to introduce a new series profiling women in the energy industry in conjunction with the Women’s Energy Network (WEN). By highlighting the stories of women in energy, we hope to help facilitate meaningful conversations, create connections, and showcase the myriad of opportunities for women to enter and thrive in the energy industry.
For this Women at Deloitte profile, we were delighted to meet and speak with Amy Chronis, leader of the US Oil, Gas & Chemicals sector and Houston managing partner. An industry veteran with more than 30 years of professional experience in the energy sector, Chronis credits the early ’80s Texas oil boom for attracting her to the energy sector and the six economic downturns she’s experienced since for her resilience, optimism, and ability to lead effectively in uncertain times.
Asking hard questions was integral to her early success
Chronis began her career as an auditor in Houston working for a variety of businesses, including family-owned and independent organizations. As a result, Chronis found herself a mainstay in the boardroom at a very early stage of her career. “Working with smaller companies so early prepared me well, I think, especially as a female, because I wasn’t afraid to interact with senior executives or ask difficult questions. I am neither a petroleum nor a chemical engineer, but I have no hesitancy asking questions and listening carefully. That’s been important.”
Ups, downs, and a total implosion
Chronis went on to become a partner at Arthur Andersen, where she saw companies facing adversity as well as success. It was another important piece of her education in terms of fostering resilience and optimism. Of course, none of it could prepare Chronis for the experience of watching Andersen fold. “Seeing a trusted brand lose everything overnight is a life lesson I would not recommend to others,” she says with a laugh, “but it strengthened me as a leader. Adversity does force you to be the very best you can be and to take care of your people.”
Happiness is a choice
While Chronis can easily point to Andersen’s demise as the single greatest challenge of her career, she’s had so many high points, she’s lost count. That’s due in great part to her perspective. As someone wearing multiple hats—leader of Deloitte’s US Oil, Gas, & Chemicals practice, Deloitte’s Houston managing partner with oversight of more than 2,500 people, chair for the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), multiple other civic roles, and mother of three children—Chronis’ days can certainly be challenging. However, she makes a conscious effort to be happy about whatever happens on a given day. “I really believe Abraham Lincoln’s quote that ‘most folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.’”
I choose to be happy every day. As a leader, if I’m not genuinely engaged, it cascades down. You can’t really fake being enthusiastic and excited about the future.
Outstanding work goes a long way. So do warmth, empathy, and speaking up.
Chronis is circumspect about the challenges that come with being a woman in the industry. Earlier in her career, she experienced a hesitancy in others to invest in someone they thought might jump ship. “As a young working mother, there was a reluctance to fully embrace me because they thought I might leave.” Ironically, what some perceived as a weakness turned out to be a strength, because Chronis credits motherhood with making her a much better leader. “Once I was a mother, it was impossible to be a perfectionist,” she notes. “I actually think being a mother made me a much better, empathetic leader and a warmer person with our clients, too.”
Warm, empathetic, and shy by nature, Chronis notes that it did take her some time to learn the power of advocating for herself and making her career ambitions known. “I used to think if I just kept my head down and continued doing great work, I’d get promoted. It took me a long while to realize I wasn’t going to make partner until I told people I aspired to be one. Advocating for myself and my people has been important in my career.”
You have to tell people you want to be a leader. You cannot assume they know.
WEN’s role in championing industry change
Chronis was introduced to the Women’s Energy Network (WEN) when she returned to Houston from Deloitte’s Austin office in 2012 and for a period was a member of its National Advisory Council. She sees the organization as a wonderful way to connect to the energy community and bring together fresh, diverse talent. She believes WEN can make a huge impact. “We, as a group, have strong opinions, and we are influencing the next generation. Enabling us with the right messages to promote the changes taking place,” Chronis emphasizes, “is an important mission for WEN.”
Amy is passionate about the future of energy in Houston. “Houston has always been known as the energy capital of the world, and I’m excited to see how quickly Houston is driving the energy transition in pursuit of a low-carbon energy future,” she says. And she is doing the work to help achieve that with her multiple civic roles, including chair of the Greater Houston Partnership, the United Way of Greater Houston, Texas 2036, the University of Texas Accounting Advisory Council, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees’ Audit and Finance Committee, and the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation Board. Chronis hopes that Houston’s active involvement in the energy industry will set the tone for the rest of the country and the world. “I feel strongly that not only Houston, but the entire energy industry, needs to own the change,” she states in a friendly, direct way. With Amy Chronis at the helm, we have no doubt they will.
US Oil, Gas & Chemicals Leader and Houston Managing Partner
Deloitte Services LP
Amy Chronis: The lightning round
Personal mantra: “Think straight, talk straight, do the right thing.”
Number of siblings: Seven (Chronis is the second-to-youngest)
Favorite place to visit: Greece
Something surprising about her: She survived a plane crash as a child
One thing on her bucket list: The joy of being a grandmother
How she’s staying sane amid the pandemic: Exercise, running, and reading
Best pandemic silver lining: Priceless extended quality time with husband John and children
Women in Energy