C-Suite Energy Executive Awards CIO of the Year: Steve Suche

Once a transaction has been consummated, the hard work is over for most people in the C-Suite. But for CIOs like Canadian Natural’s Steve Suche, it’s only just beginning

Steve Suche, Canadian Natural CIO
Photographs John Gaucher

Steve Suche thinks acquisitions are fun. That’s a good thing, too, because Canadian Natural’s vice-president of information and corporate services saw his employers announce a big one last February. In that $3.1- billion deal, Canadian Natural acquired 86,633 barrels of oil equivalent per day of production, 4.9 million net acres of land and approximately 750 new employees from Devon Canada. Acquiring all those assets (the deal closed on April 2, 2014) immediately increased Canadian Natural’s production base. But for Suche and the 250 members of his information and corporate services unit, the deal also represented an enormous amount of work jammed into a small window of time. They had to ensure within six weeks that 750 new employees had desks to sit in, computers that worked and access to all of the data and information they needed to hit the ground running at Canadian Natural. “At some places they might say, ‘Oh my God! We’ve already got too much on our plate.’ But my team is wildly enthusiastic about it. We think it’s great,” Suche says. “Because we’re successful, we’re able to make these acquisitions and we feel a part of that success.”

Of course, the Devon Canada deal wasn’t the only thing Suche had to do in 2014. While executives like president Steve Laut tend to get the credit when the company has a year like Canadian Natural had in 2014 (average daily production for the first three quarters of 2014 was 766,871 boe/d, and net earnings were $2.7 billion) that can’t happen without excellent computer systems and top notch service from its information services staff. That’s why Suche’s team is very detailed in tracking how much their systems cost and what the level of customer satisfaction is with the services they provide. Suche says he’s focused on providing reliable systems that Canadian Natural’s employees can depend on, and continuous improvement from the information and corporate services team he leads.

Did he meet those expectations in 2014? Suche thinks he and his team did. “I meet with most of the business units most months and you get a sense of the room,” he says. “Are they happy to see you or are they lined up to yell at you? That’s probably the best way of feeling whether you are doing a good job or not. Generally, they are happy to see me.”

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