Caterinna Sampe Baesse

Having experienced multiple hurricanes, earthquakes and island-wide blackouts in her home country of Puerto Rico, Caterinna Sampe Baesse (MLHR ’10) knows that access to fuel and gasoline can mean the difference between life and death. As the manager of two petroleum companies in the Caribbean, providing that access in times of need is just one aspect of her career in the energy industry that she’s most proud of.

Sampe Baesse shares some of the lessons she’s learned as one of a few female leaders in the petroleum industry in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including how to lead during and after natural disasters.

What are you most proud of since graduating?

I was very fortunate that I went into a great corporate career with Shell Oil Company in Houston, Texas, right after graduating from Fisher. I entered their HR Leadership Development rotational program, becoming the HR business partner for the Projects and Technology group as well as the Fuels and Distribution business and eventually the HR account manager for Chemicals North America overseeing the United States and Canada.

Those years in the rotational program at Shell gave me the courage to leave the corporate world and move back home to Puerto Rico to help my father restructure and grow his business, Petroleum Brokers (PB). After a few years, I, along with my husband, recreated the PB model and started from scratch a new company, Petroleo del Caribe, for the diesel market in Puerto Rico. In these two roles, I am one of the few women in an energy industry leadership position in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I’m proud I built the business together with my husband and that we have used our talents and backgrounds to create new business and new jobs in our communities.

My biggest achievement is being a mother of two and still being very present in every moment of their lives while also maintaining a career. Balance is never easy, but I try every day to make my world a little better and have impact in what I do.

What are some accomplishments or accolades you're most proud of?

Having worked and lived in Puerto Rico during three devastating hurricanes — Irma, Maria and Fiona — as well as earthquakes and two multi-day island-wide blackouts, I know how critical it is to persevere in everything you do. I’m proud to say that during those difficult logistical times I provided strong leadership by coordinating fuel distribution to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, fueling generators in critical areas and helping save lives in a time where power was a luxury.

Caterinna with her friend Helena Villanueva dividing the cargo shipment from the U.S. to give to the worst hit communities.
Caterinna with her friend, Helena Villanueva, divide a shipment of disaster aid from the U.S.

I also coordinated gathering much-needed supplies from the community and local government to ship to the Virgin Islands. After the second hurricane hit, I asked my friends from the U.S. to assist by sending a container full of emergency items to be distributed around the remote mountain areas of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, which had no power for six months.

It was very rewarding to help my community and the industry. I was honored to be recognized for these accomplishments by my high school. I was also recognized by the North Harbor Safety and Security Committee of Puerto Rico as one of the few women entrepreneurs who owns a business in a logistics and operations environment.

How has your business education helped make a difference in your career?

Fisher gave me not only the real-world knowledge and internship opportunities that led me to my career today, but it gave me a network of alumni and friends that I will treasure forever. Any student that has the amazing opportunity to study, be on campus and utilize all the resources given to them is very fortunate. I will always be grateful.

What is your favorite business school-related memory?

When I did my undergraduate degree in Puerto Rico, I went to a university in my hometown and never lived on campus or had the experience of going to a college football game and tailgating with my classmates. At Ohio State, as a graduate student, I had my first experience living on campus as well as a typical “freshman” college life while many of my peers were full-time professionals balancing school and work. I loved learning about their work experiences and how their journeys led them to Fisher. I loved all the classes, events and HR communities I was a part of.

What advice would you give to a current student or a new Fisher graduate?

Take in every moment and get to know your classmates, as you have no idea how you might work together or want to connect with them as part of your network in the future. Enjoy the experience and try to spend time on campus and connect with others. Being a student is a time that you will miss in the future so enjoy it. Even though the readings and projects might be endless, you can do it!

What's the most interesting fact about you that isn't on your resume or LinkedIn profile?

People are surprised I am always thinking about what else I can do. I express my creativity in many ways: I am a crafter that loves to decorate for kids’ birthdays, and I also love to give public speaking courses to entrepreneurs and help others develop their public speaking skills. This variety means on any given day I can be developing a digital product for Etsy using my passion for the languages I speak – English, Spanish or Italian – or I can be crafting a cake topper while I am on a call with a customer wanting a fuel delivery.

Thanks to Fisher and Ohio State’s extensive network of alumni and friends...

I always feel like I have a group of people to turn to and an alma mater that I can go back to and feel like I belong. There are not many Buckeyes in Puerto Rico, so when there are new Ohio State alumni here, I love to meet them.

What causes, organizations or topics motivate you to action personally?

I’m always motivated by my local communities — whether that’s being a leader in my neighborhood renovating parks and recreation areas to create better places for my children or finding ways my skills in communication can help others grow. I love offering speaking courses to community groups and helping women in shelters get ready for the job market by preparing them for an interview or reading their resume.

Caterinna with her husband and two sons.
Caterinna with her husband and two sons.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

My mom would always say to me, “Always try even if you think you will fail, because a ‘No’ is guaranteed if you don’t do anything. So just try to see if you get a ‘Yes.’”

Recently, I have been very moved by another quote: “Don’t make the world a better place for your kids, make your kids better for a better world.” As a mother my one true goal is for my kids to be kind and caring and to make a better world one day.

"Fisher gave me not only the real-world knowledge and internship opportunities that led me to my career today, but it gave me a network of alumni and friends that I will treasure forever."

Caterinna Sampe BaesseMLHR ’10