Married EY alumni share perspectives on the future of energy, their board service and their time at EY.
EY alumni Marcela Donadio and Larry Dickerson are an energetic pair – in more ways than one. She’s EY’s former Americas Oil & Gas sector leader, while he’s a retired energy company CEO. They sit on a combined total of six prominent corporate boards, five of them energy related. And, they’re husband and wife. We talked to them about the future of energy, their board service, their time at EY and their life together.
What do two veteran heavy hitters in the oil and gas industry who happen to be married to each other talk about over dinner?
“Well, primarily our calendars, to make sure we know where each other is,” Marcela Donadio says with a laugh. She’s only half-joking: the former EY Americas Oil & Gas Leader is married to Larry Dickerson, EY alumnus and former CEO of Diamond Offshore.
The two met as new hires at Arthur Young in 1976 and married in 1980, just after Larry made the move to Diamond. Over four decades, they traveled parallel trajectories in the energy business in Houston.
They’ve always been each other’s greatest supporter. “Having a wife with a high-powered career was a tremendous advantage because my paycheck was not the sole income source for the family,” Larry says. “I never had to worry about job security,” he jokes.
Even back in the 1980s, EY offered flexibility that made life with two sons a little easier to manage. Marcela was the first female partner in the Houston office from the Arthur Young side with children.
Today, Larry and Marcela each serve on three public company boards. Given their deep roots and ongoing involvement in the energy industry, the conversation at home can get pretty heady.
“We talk about how it’s important, if you’ve got ideas, to sell them to other board members, and we reinforce each other on being the best board members we can be,” Larry says.
Marcela agrees and adds that they enjoy sharing the 30,000-foot view of the industry at home, on their own time. “One thing I missed about being with the firm was the ability to go down the hall to someone’s office and talk about issues and trends, and get their perspective,” Marcela says. “Larry and I never talk about specifics with respect to the companies that we’re associated with because we respect the confidentiality of that information very much. But we do have an incredible opportunity to really talk about global issues and macro trends in the industry.
“We also talk about things like consumer demand, whether or not tax reform is going to have a significant impact on the industry and what it really means for GDP, what’s happening internationally and whether that’s going to have an impact here.”
Of course, these days, business takes a back seat to their personal lives. Their two sons, MIT and Vanderbilt graduates who work in the finance industry, are “the pride and joy of my life,” says Marcela. “As proud as I am of having been a partner at Ernst & Young and a board member at all these fabulous companies, my biggest accomplishment in life was being a mother.”
For a change of pace, Larry enjoys oil painting, which he took up shortly before retiring. “I don’t think you can just retire and then look at a blank canvas and go, ‘Okay, I’m going to tackle this.’ While I was working, it was a great way to blow off steam because it was just me and the canvas and the paint.”
There’s a lot to be said for trying new things in retirement, Larry says. “After so many numbers, it’s great to use that other half of your brain.”