Summer 2005 (13.2)
Tribute - Susan Crouch
Organizer of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition for 11 Years
Family and friends were
shocked to learn that Susan Crouch (born 1950) passed away quietly
in her sleep on January 16, 2006. Crouch, known among close colleagues
and friends as "Susie", was the driving force behind
the launching of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference
which she and colleagues organized and coordinated with the cooperation
of the Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce for 11 years from 1994-2004.
Not many people knew that in 1985 while working with Spearhead
(UK), Susan and her colleagues actually started preparing for
the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition, even before the collapse
of the Soviet Union (late 1991). Everyone in the oil and gas
industry knew that the Caspian had great potential. So Susan
headed off to Moscow and succeeded in getting the floor plans
of the Exhibition Center in Baku, only to stash them away in
a drawer since it was still too early - both politically as well
In 1992, when BP and Statoil of Norway formed an Alliance to
work together in Azerbaijan, Susan and her colleagues realized
it was time to get serious about Baku again.
Right: Susie Crouch in 1998. Photo: Blair
In 1993, Susan began the first
of many, many journeys
to Baku. That's when she learned that the Exhibition Center had
burned down, so she explored the possibility of using the Sports
Complex. The rest is history. After dealing with an endless array
of logistics, she managed to pull off the first show in 1994,
attracting 158 companies from 12 countries.
"At first, everyone hesitated to get involved," Susan
noted. "It was the signing of the 'Contract of the Century'
(Azeri, Chirag and deep-water Gunashli fields) in September 1994
and the cooperation of President Heydar Aliyev that clinched
the Oil Show."
By 2005, at the 12th show, there were 331 exhibitors, 250 of
which were foreign companies. Twenty-eight countries were represented:
Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Croatia, Denmark,
Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan,
Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia,
Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, Ukraine
and USA. Since June 2005, the show has been organised by the
ITE Group, again in partnership with the Azerbaijan Chamber of
Susan devoted the last decade of her life to Azerbaijan. She
described her motivation in an interview with Betty Blair, Editor
of Azerbaijan International in 1997.
"Azerbaijan is very different from other countries we've
worked with. We were there right when the doors opened. That
makes it both exciting and challenging. Let's be perfectly honest,
we all have to earn a living. But this effort brings additional
pleasure because you know it matters, and that Azerbaijan has
the potential to become one of the richest countries in the world.
In the end, it's the love, friendship and the intellectual stimulation
that you receive when working with Azerbaijanis that is so rewarding.
"This is an extremely vibrant country. Back in England and
the U.S., we think we tolerate different races and creeds. But
do we? Hell! You come here and you really see that internationalism
is the policy of this country and that they genuinely tolerate
every race and creed. It's deeply ingrained in the psyches of
At the end of the day, it's the gracious hospitality of the people
with whom you work that makes all the effort
so rewarding. I've never known a country like this before in
Above: AIOC booth at the 1995 Caspian Oil
and Gas Exhibition
Susan was known and admired
on so many high levels - governmental as well as in top managerial
levels in the oil industry. That's why we wanted to include some
of the tributes that were made to her here in the magazine:
"Susan Crouch was a
person of great dignity with a very sharp and flexible mind.
She had outstanding organizational skills. Her efforts in coordinating
the annual Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conferences in
Azerbaijan were invaluable. She played an enormous role in strengthening
the cooperation between
the Azerbaijan Republic and the world community."
currently Azerbaijan Minister of Industry and Energy, who cooperated
and supported Susan's efforts at the Oil show for 11 years in
as President of SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic)
"We shall always remember
how much Susan contributed towards the development of our country
and how much she achieved in bringing us all much closer to each
other. Susan always was a person of extraordinary inner strength
and humility. I should like to thank her for her life, her work
and her friendship."
Azerbaijan's Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Above: The late President Heydar Aliyev with
international government representatives
and top business managers in September 1994 at the signing of
the "Contract of the Century" (Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli).
The First Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition had taken place a few
months earlier (June 1994).
"Susan Crouch was well
known and loved by a great many Azerbaijanis primarily for her
success in the exhibition scene. She knew the country well, was
extremely conscious of its internal politics, and was wholly
dedicated to improving the quality of life for many of its people.
But it was her passion for underprivileged children to which
Susan dedicated her greatest effort and much of the charity work
that the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society supports in child-related
projects was under her guidance."
Fraser of Carmylli, House of Lords, UK Parliament.
"Susan Crouch's crusade
was to get things done and achieve results to her exacting standards-sometimes
almost to the point of obsession. She was known for direct dealings
and straight talking, balanced by an infectious sense of humor
and, above all, an integrity which could not be compromised.
She was a superb business woman with a real flair for opportunity-topped
with a desire to help people along the way. Today, there are
many on the periphery of the exhibition and conference scene,
who owe their achievement and their livelihood to Susan Crouch."
--Dr. Ken Forrest,
who was involved in the Oil and Gas industry for the past 30
years and who was responsible for coordinating Government and
Industry activities at the UK Offshore Supplies Office when Susan
initiated the Caspian oil show in the early 1990s. Currently,
Dr. Forrest is an active member of the Board of the Anglo-Azerbaijani
Society (which Susan helped to establish),
and a Minister in the Church of Scotland.
be remembered for her tireless dedication in making the Caspian
Oil Show an internationally respected event, which raised awareness
of Azerbaijan's oil and gas potential globally and helped establish
this country as an exciting place to do business."
--David Woodward, Assoc. President BP Azerbaijan.
"Susan Crouch herself
was like an institution-always involved, always reliable, and
always a visionary, believing in possibilities. Though Azerbaijan
gained its independence from the Soviet Union only 15 years ago
(1991), there were very few foreigners, like Susan, who were
still involved in the country on a continuous personal basis
even a decade later. She was one of those rare individuals who
had what might be called the "corporate memory" of
this new nation. Such knowledge gave her incredible insight into
where this country had come from and what it could reasonably
achieve, given its cumbersome historical circumstances. We're
so sorry that Susie has left us so soon, just a few months prior
to celebrating the inauguration of the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline. She was so instrumental in helping to coordinate thousands
of links that made such a dream possible."
(Editor) and Pirouz Khanlou (Publisher)
Azerbaijan International Magazine.
"Azerbaijan was certainly
where Susan had some of her finest moments. Her vision lead to
the establishment of one of the most important energy events
in the world, but it was Susan as an individual personality who
changed so many lives - as teacher, friend and inspiration."
working beside Susan at the
Caspian Oil Show for nine years.
"Susie was one of a
kind - inspirational, loving, caring, totally unpredictable,
elegant, supremely talented - an incredible combination. For
me, the world will be a much quieter and much more boring place
Patten, PR consultant and Press Officer
for the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition for the
11 years of Susan's involvement with the show.
The memorial service was held at St. Andrew's Parish Church in
Cobham, UK, on January 31, 2006. Gifts in Susan's memory should
be sent to the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society Susan Crouch Charity
Account, c/o Margaret Morris, 11 Dunlin Court, Kelvedon, Essex,
CO5 9LU, United Kingdom.
Above: Susan Crouch with husband Brian at
Buckingham Palace in 2001, having received the MBE medal (Member
of the Order of the British Empire) for "Services to Export".
At the time, Susan was the Managing Director of Spearhead Exhibitions
Ltd. She was recognized for being involved 30 years in the conference
and exhibition industry.
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AI 13.4 (Winter 2005)
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