The New Face of LAGCOE

Angela Cring picks up where Sally Ware left off, becoming only the third ED in the 57-year history of one of the largest energy expositions in the country.
By Leslie Turk
Photo by Robin May

ExecAngela Cring, who has been in a management role with the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition since 2009, most recently serving as planning and technology director, has assumed the reins as executive director. She is only the third person to hold the job in the 57-year history of what has become one of the largest energy expositions in the country. Cring replaces Sally Ware, who retired after serving almost 32 years. With Ware’s help, Cring effectively directed the sellout 2011 show and will assume control over the successful exposition in 2013. Originally from Alexandria, she has a bachelor of science in environmental geology and political science from Millsaps College and a master’s degree in geology from the University of Mississippi. She has experience both in the public and private sector, having worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and as a geo-hazards geologist. Cring, who knows has she has big shoes to fill, appears to be more than up to challenge.

What was your first position with LAGCOE and did you have any notion you might take over one day?
In the summer of 2005 I was working as a consulting geologist. The project I was involved in wrapped up, so Sally asked me if I’d like to come help her out at the LAGCOE office as it got closer to the 2005 show. Despite careful planning, the months leading up to the shows are hectic and we work at fever pitch. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita put a halt to everything, as the Cajundome was utilized for disaster recovery, and I went back to my geo-hazards consulting work, which picked up significantly because of the impact of the hurricanes. Given my experience in 2005, I was asked to return for the show in 2007, and it wasn’t until I began working for LAGCOE a full six months prior to the 2009 show that I ever thought it possible that I might take over someday. 

Did you feel like you were working in a man’s world?
No, it does not feel like a man’s world to me. Maybe that is partially because of my background as a scientist. There are typically more men than women in geology, so I guess that has just become the norm for me. Also, I think professionals in the industry have evolved to think less in terms of gender and are more focused on teaming together to tackle challenges and move the industry forward.

How big a role did you play in the 2011 show and was it sufficient to prepare you for 2013?
I effectively produced and managed the 2011 show, implementing many changes such as the new exposition management software, registration system, and phone app, which I researched, planned and directed with Sally’s guidance as she prepared me to take her position. This experience, in addition to that gained from the two previous shows, has prepared me for 2013.

What went well in 2011, any records broken for attendance, etc. and what do you hope to do even better in 2013?
In 2011, LAGCOE was sold out with nearly 400 companies exhibiting and over 250 companies on the exhibitor wait list. Attendees came from 47 states and 26 countries. Exhibitors and attendees benefitted from our new phone app, streamlined registration process, effective exposition management software, additional creative sponsorship opportunities, and enhanced exhibitor information section on our website. For 2013 we will continue to make updates that will keep the show relevant and give attendees even more reason to come. Between each show we work to learn more about industry needs and concerns so that we are able to provide a better experience each time.

What was the level of optimism about the industry at the 2011 show?
During the 2011 show, a number of companies asked us what they needed to do to be able to participate in 2013. That is a great indication of a positive outlook for the next couple of years.

What do you see as the biggest issue facing the industry in 2012 and beyond?
Industry regulations are certainly today’s biggest issue and, in my opinion, will remain so for some time. I also believe maintaining a workforce that is trained and experienced in an industry that has such ups and downs as ours is a challenge. Oil and gas professionals rely on the “never quit” spirit to successfully meet new industry demands. LAGCOE celebrates this spirit and provides a stage for the demonstration of innovative new solutions that keep the industry moving forward with Lafayette at the heart of it all.

When the curtain came down on the show Oct. 27, what was the day after like? Do y’all take a break or does the 2013 show planning start immediately after?
The day after the show is moving day for us. Our office is relocated to the Convention Center the week before LAGCOE and we move back to Heymann Boulevard in the Oil Center the day after. We didn’t take much of a break after the 2011 show because we were focused on evaluating and wrapping up everything from 2011 while we still had the opportunity to pick Sally’s brain. This year will be spent cataloging and archiving LAGCOE information; analyzing and reconfiguring organizational systems if necessary; developing and implementing marketing plans; prioritizing and focusing new ideas; continuing to utilize and expand on social media efforts; networking with industry professionals to better understand their needs and to increase interest in LAGCOE; growing international relationships through meetings with embassies, consulates and national oil companies; planning and bidding all exposition services; and effectively communicating with exhibitors to begin placement for the 2013 show.

Did last year’s show give you any ideas about how to make the 2013 show more exciting? Any fresh ideas for it?
We have too many ideas at this point and will be prioritizing and focusing our efforts in the next few months. For more than 57 years LAGCOE has been meeting industry needs right in the heart of our country’s energy corridor. I take this responsibility seriously and want to honor my predecessors’ work while building upon it with new ideas that keep LAGCOE a well-attended and highly anticipated show.

Do you have any mentors in the oilfield, someone who really helped you along and educated you about the dynamics of the industry?
Sally Ware has demonstrated grace under pressure and taught me how important it is to support the industry as it weathers ups and downs. LAGCOE is also blessed with dedicated volunteers who, show after show, give their time and talents to make LAGCOE the successful show it is. I have learned from these dedicated men and women that LAGCOE is like one big family — all connected with a desire to keep Lafayette the home of one of the largest oil and gas shows in the U.S.

What might people not know about you? What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from the office?
I may come across as quiet and unassuming, but I am a former debate team captain, so don’t be fooled. I can hold my own. I am mom to a 3-year-old daughter who has given me a passion and special interest in helping to improve our education system in Acadiana. For as long as I can remember my hobby has been being involved.

Sally spent almost 32 years there. Where will you be in 32 years?
Thirty two years from now I hope LAGCOE will be on its 4th highly successful executive director, and I will be retired with my husband taking frequent trips to the mountains and beach with our daughter and grandchildren.

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