Guess Who's Drilling For Dollars

One of the true winners among Canadian IROs is back in investors’ crosshairs – exactly where she likes it. Janet Craig is the new vice president of IR for Calgary-based Nexen, Canada’s fourth largest integrated oil and gas company.

Craig’s last in-house IR position at a public company was at Nortel Networks, which sank into bankruptcy in 2009. From there she embarked on a one-year stint heading up a new financial communications team for Kingsdale Shareholder Services then spent the last 14 months as a consultant for a number of firms including a pre-IPO tech company.

Nexen may well have some IR awards to look forward to. Just months after moving to Nortel in August 2007, Craig had amassed enough votes to win best large-cap IRO and most progress in IR at the IR Magazine Canada Awards 2008. She won for most progress the year before at Angiotech Pharmaceuticals and her previous tenure at ATI Technologies led to numerous grand prix and best IRO awards.

From graphics chips to biotech to networks, Craig hasn’t stayed still. But is the oil and gas sector a stretch? She says that when she hankered to get back to dealing with the Street, she looked at all Toronto Stock Exchange companies and filtered out everything that was under $10 bn market cap, that wasn’t global or that wasn’t interlisted in Canada and the US. The remaining list was almost all mining or oil and gas, which convinced her it was time to learn a new industry. Around the same time she got wind that Nexen was looking for a replacement for its former IR chief, Mike Harris.

‘There are so many oil and gas experts in Canada, I never thought I’d get hired. It’s such a cool job, and that doesn’t come up very often,’ Craig says of her new position at Nexen. ‘I’m very grateful, very excited.’

Craig, who is a regular contributor to Inside Investor Relations, has had to get quickly up to speed on several companies during her career and isn’t daunted by taking on Nexen. In fact, she’s fascinated by this complex company, which has operations from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Sea, from conventional oil to oil sands and shale gas.

She says has honed a process for getting an IR program in motion even while she’s ramping up her knowledge of a new company and a new industry. ‘There are a large number of people within Nexen who are experts on what they do, so we can draw on that,’ she adds.

Before Craig, Nexen had typically filled its IR post with internal candidates. Now the company looks to be taking IR to a new level by switching to a career IR professional to head its four-person team.

[Article by Neil Stewart, IR magazine]

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