Mary Johnson

Stories of GRIT — Here's a taste of what to expect from HERWorld18

Blog Post created by Mary Johnson on Nov 7, 2017

Mark your calendars everyone: HERWorld18 is set for International Women’s Day: March 8, 2018. And it’s going to be a good one.


Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL, is set to keynote, among other amazing speakers. Our theme? The New Energy Playbook — GRIT.


GRIT stands for Growth, Resilience, Innovation and Transition. 2017 has been one trying year, and if we didn’t already have those traits in spades, we certainly do now.


We took a look back at the stories our members have told us and found true stories of GRIT. Take a look, and get excited about HERWorld18! (For more on the event, click here.)




Suzette Colson is the head of settlements – NAGP at BP. At our HERWorld Connect event back in September, she spoke to our members and friends about how she has spent her life conquering fear.


“As a child, I was very fearful. I was scared of everything,” Colson said. “I went to college and got that damn accounting degree. You know, I don’t even know if it was something I wanted to do but other people wanted me to do it.”  


Then, at the age of 28, she decided to give it all up.


“I bought a sailboat with my boyfriend. I had no experience sailing before, and then we went and sailed in the Bahamas for nine months,” Colson said. “It was one of those things that was super important to me because I decided not to be afraid.”


Twenty years later, Colson was diagnosed with triple negative stage 2 breast cancer. She was just 48 years old.


“I was so scared again. But again, I came back to how I felt when I decided not to be fearful,” she said.




Emily Fletty, the former director of talent management at Direct Energy, also spoke at our HERWorld Connect event in September. She talked about a time in her career when she was working for an energy company that went through three reorganizations in the span of 18 months.


“My boss had been forced out. My CEO, who was a very inspirational leader, had left the organization,” Fletty said.


It was looking like Fletty’s job could be next. 


“The stress started to get to be too much for me. I knew my role was likely to be eliminated, so I decided to leave that company,” she said. 


Fletty ended up taking three months off after she left the energy company, which wasn’t easy for her.


“I have a high need for security,” she said. “The first thing I did was I redid my budget. And I broke up with White House, Black Market.”


“It was sad. We both cried, but we’ve all moved on,” she said as the crowd laughed. “And my daughter and I have spent a lot of quality time together, but we did a lot of things that required physical activity. So just taking care of myself physically, which I had not made time for during this period of stress and turmoil.”




Ally Cedeno is the senior dynamic positioning operator for a major drilling contractor. “I have often been the only woman on board or the only woman outside of catering,” she explains. But, Cedeno doesn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing—and has actually managed to use that to her advantage.


“I have been lucky to have some great male mentors and wouldn’t be where I am without those platonic relationships,” she adds.


But Cedeno also admits that there’s a shift happening—she’s seeing more and more women involved in the industry. “On the last ship I worked on, amazingly, there were women working all over the rig,” she says, “There were so many women, I don’t even know them all. I really enjoyed the camaraderie I found on that ship and the fact that I wasn’t an anomaly on board.”


With that in mind, Cedeno took steps to launch “The industry is evolving to become more diverse and inclusive,” she explains, “I founded to report on the latest news in how the industry is changing, connect women to resources that foster long-term careers, and highlight the amazing, diverse group of women who work in operations. They all have a story to tell and hopefully their stories will inspire more women to pursue similar careers.”




Kate Sherwood is the senior director of grid modernization for 3M.


Shortly after obtaining her MBA, Sherwood decided to focus her career on two things she cared about: solar and women’s issues.


“A friend of a friend introduced me to the IT guy at a hippie little solar company in Berkeley: PowerLight,” she recalls, “So I accepted a 50 percent pay cut from strategy consulting to ‘carry a bag’ as a salesman.”


Sherwood freely admits that she had very little idea of how to be a successful salesperson when first making the move to PowerLight (now SunPower Corporation, Systems).


That somewhat intimidating entry to a new career field was compounded with a few other important facts: Sherwood was the only woman in sales, and just a few weeks after joining the company, she discovered she was pregnant with her first child.


Understandably, she was nervous about breaking the news to her executives, Dan Shugar and Howard Wenger. She feared that her sales manager would take her biggest account, Macy’s, away from her.


“To their credit, their response was quite the opposite,” she says. “They said, ‘If your clients don’t want to work with you because you’re pregnant, then we don’t want them as clients.’”


Sherwood credits that supportive and heartfelt response from her leaders as her motivation to throw herself into her work until the day her child was born — closing the biggest deal of its time there.


Got your own GRIT story to share! Tell us in the comments or email