Tyra Metoyer, a Louisiana native, grew up in the oil patches of Texas and Louisiana. While she credits opportunity, not destiny, with securing her first oil and gas industry job at Texaco, maybe it was both.
Tyra earned an internship with the energy giant through a program called INROADS, which focused on placing minorities in business and industry to prepare them for community and corporate leadership.
Tyra, one of our speakers at HERWorld Energy Forum on March 8 (Get your tickets here!), was the first non-business or engineering major to land an internship in INROADS/Houston. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Tyra went to work there full time.
Her entrance into the Texaco workforce was in the company’s White Plains, N.Y., headquarters where she worked in corporate communications as part of the team tasked with responding to the many letters that were sent to Texaco’s then CEO about allegations from a discrimination lawsuit.
In addition to appreciating the exposure to the intricacies of strategic communications and opportunities to work with senior-level executives so early in her career, she credits the nearly five years she spent at Texaco with providing the foundation for her professionalism and passion for the oil and gas industry.
“In my first real job, I was mentored by women and men who were committed to my personal and professional growth,” she recalls. “I still draw on many of those lessons and relationships more than 20 years later.”
Moving back to Texas
During a major Texaco reorganization in the late 1990s, Tyra took a position in the Houston public and government affairs department. She eventually left Texaco and worked in a variety of positions outside of the industry.
Then, one of her Texaco mentors introduced her to the American Petroleum Institute, one of our HERWorld18 sponsors. She subcontracted at first, which led to her own contract with API and eventually a full-time position.
Tyra now serves as the Manager of External Mobilization for API and leads four national programs:
- Energy Nation, an industry employee education and advocacy program
- STEM and Education outreach and programming
- Workforce of the Future Initiatives
- Outreach to Non-Traditional Allies, which include women, minorities and a range of communities that haven’t traditionally been connected to the industry
Part of Tyra’s role is to introduce people to the energy industry and share the benefits and opportunities that are available in natural gas and oil. She has noticed that many people either have no idea about the different opportunities or they have a negative bias toward the industry that is usually based entirely on myths.
“The better job we do to connect more people and be a lot more inclusive, then the better it makes us as an industry and a nation,” Tyra says.
Tyra is a long-time champion of GRIT — growth, resilience, innovation and transition — our theme of HERWorld18.
“Anybody who accomplishes anything has to overcome obstacles and challenges, and that takes GRIT,” she says. “GRIT allows you to take a position, stand up for yourself and your values, and not be afraid to be the only one. GRIT is about earning your seat at the table and sitting in the chair to do the work that is required. I am clear that my success in this industry is almost entirely about grit and grace. Most of us need a lot of both.”
An obligation to embrace “different”
Tyra believes that one of our challenges in the energy industry right now with diversity and inclusion is to make spaces that welcome new and different ideas — no matter who presents those ideas. In order to not only attract and retain that workforce, we must challenge our ways of thinking, knowing and doing – and we must value and embrace difference. She admits that’s a tall order, but it’s not just an oil and gas industry challenge.
“The fourth industrial revolution, which in many ways is already here, will continue to introduce disruptions in the form of constantly evolving technologies and will offer tremendous opportunities to embrace change. These will be major disruptions to ‘business as usual,’ and we need to capitalize on that,” Tyra says.
When it comes to women in energy, Tyra is happy to see so many remarkable women “at the table,” but she feels strongly that we can’t make it an “us vs. them” situation. It can’t be men vs. women or whites vs. minorities, etc. Everybody has a role to play.
“It’s not just one group’s problem,” she says.
Sometimes women shy away from helping other women in the industry because they don’t want to be viewed a certain way. This happens with other groups too, but all of us need to be intentional about the roles we can play as champions, sponsors, and as the people with seats at the table who can welcome others in.
“How do we make energy a destination where all people want to come and work?” Tyra says. “My champions and mentors have been doing that for me for nearly 30 years. I have found spaces to be my authentic self and thrive in an industry that is ripe for people with GRIT — all of which keeps me keenly aware of my responsibility to pay it forward.”