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GRIT Awards Fall 2018 At HERWorld Energy Forum in March, Experience Energy presented the first-ever GRIT Awards, a celebration of the difference makers in energy.


Your response was overwhelming.


You nominated nearly 200 women and men from around the world. (Click here to see who won.) Over 400 people attended the award show in Houston. And 74,000 watched live online.


It made us realize: This is BIG. And it deserves an experience of its own.


So on Oct. 3, we are bringing the Experience Energy GRIT Awards back. We’re not talking just a ceremony. This will be a bonafide experience, complete with powerhouse keynote speakers, expert panels and the recognition these gritty leaders, role models and innovators deserve.


Now — the most important part — nominations for our next class of GRIT Award winners are now open!


We need all of you to take a look around your organizations and networks and find the unsung heroes — the women who lead and the men who recognize the value women bring and advocate for their progress in energy. We are looking for the people who are down in the trenches, getting the job done.


We all know someone like that. It’s time to get them the recognition they deserve. Click here to nominate today! The deadline for nominations is June 30.


Once we’ve collected all the nominations, we will pass them along to our panel of judges — a combination of industry leaders and previous GRIT Award winners — to tackle the arduous task of narrowing down our finalists. Then, on Oct. 3, it’s time to celebrate.  


Want to attend or sponsor?  Click here.  We'd love to have you be a part of the excitement.


On that note, let’s talk content. We are passionate about content at Pink Petro, and our sister company, Experience Energy is no different. We want you to leave each and every experience with new insights, perspectives, information and connections. So here’s what we’ve got on deck:


  • Two phenomenal keynote speakers, including futurist, technology strategist and author Crystal Washington, who will discuss the future of culture and talent and the role of social media in the ever-changing world of business, and another keynote speaker to be announced soon.
  • A panel discussion focused on “Demystifying the Data
  • Lunch (to be shared with the new connections you’ll make)
  • The GRIT Awards ceremony, which will take place in Houston and will be broadcast live around the world


Excited yet? So are we.


We’ll have lots more to talk about in the coming weeks, as well as some in-depth profiles of our esteemed speakers.  So stay tuned. And most importantly, start nominating!



Suganthi SubramianThis week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we introduce you to Suganthi Subramaniam, Shell’s Malaysia IT country chair.


Suganthi is based out of Shell’s business operation center in Kuala Lumpur, where she manages some 200 people. She was honored with a GRIT Award at our inaugural ceremony back in March, in part because of her role in the demobilization of Shell’s IT hub in Malaysia beginning in late 2016. It was a tough job at a critical time for the organization — and marked an enormous professional transformation for Suganthi, who has always sought opportunity in the challenges that come her way.


Read below for more about Suganthi.


PINK PETRO: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?


SUGANTHI: The Shell IT transformation strategy was announced toward the end of 2015 while implementation began in 2016. This transformation focused on establishing IT hubs in London, Houston, Bangalore and Netherlands. This essentially meant that the IT hub in Malaysia, home to 1,500 IT staff and contractors who operate a significant part of Shell’s critical IT operations, was to be demobilized. An estimated 500 roles were to move to Bangalore, including my own, leaving behind a retained organization of 21 people in Shell IT Malaysia.


While I myself internalized this announcement and went through the emotional change curve, I could see the impact the decision had on the Malaysian IT community trying to deal with what it meant to their personal lives, such as supporting their families, paying mortgages, finding another role outside Shell, etc. Little did I realize, the biggest challenge I was going to face was going to unfold in November 2016, when I was asked to take on the role of Shell Malaysia IT Country Chair, which would make me not just part of the IT transformation journey but leader of the transformation journey for the Shell Malaysia IT community.


PP: What hurdles did you face in that role?


SS: The most significant one was to manage the successful IT transformation while maintaining secure and reliable IT operations, which relied heavily on the impacted staff. To overcome this hurdle, I first secured leadership support at the highest level — namely the Shell CEO and CIO. I then leveraged a network called People’s Change Agent Network [PCAN], which was run by the impacted staff to motivate and empower them with a voice at the table. As the sponsor of PCAN, I enabled my team to run upskilling programs for both soft and technical skills and outplacement activities, and I kept staff abreast of changes through tailored communication in monthly newsletters, town halls, floor walks and booths. On my floor walks, I, together with my leadership team, actively listened to concerns and morphed our plans to support this journey.


Another key action was to encourage and create the opportunity for the leaders such as the Shell CEO, CIO and VP of strategy and planning to visit Malaysia. Jointly with my stellar PCAN network members, I worked on ensuring that these visits had deep meaning and recognition for the relentless effort and professionalism demonstrated by the Shell IT Malaysia community. Staff needed to embrace and internalize that the organization genuinely cared and valued their contribution towards enabling the success of the Bangalore hub and that they were committed to do the best in supporting their welfare. I’m proud to say, the strategy and action plan has been successful.


When I took on this challenge of being the IT country chair, I was asked the rationale of wanting to be the captain of a sinking ship. The answer was simple — the people. I have had many opportunities and gained much from Shell and these people. This was the perfect opportunity for me to give back in a small way to those who have been with me on this amazing journey.


PP: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?


SS: In this first 10 years of my career, I was focused on establishing myself in Shell, developing content knowledge, leadership skills, visibility and relationships to enable myself to deliver effectively. My external networking was minimal. However, when I became Shell Malaysia IT country chair, I realized I would not be able to do justice to the Shell Malaysia IT community without external and purposeful networking — a mistake that stuck out to me like a sore thumb. 


With this difficult journey, I needed to showcase my community, understand the external market trends in human capital, work with government organizations to leverage opportunities for staff and keep abreast of other organizations in the industry. In this last year, I have successfully networked and influenced several organizations that have joined us in our outplacement activities, worked with the government on some specific digital transformation initiatives on human capital, learned about market trends and implemented them in my functional role as an asset and configuration manager, as well as facilitated the certification of staff with skills required by Shell and the industry.


PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?


SS: As a professional, I am motivated by learning opportunities and challenges that give me the platform to grow, sharpen and develop both technical and soft skills. As I established myself as leader of teams and grew into a leader of a community, I realize the passion to nurture, mentor, coach and develop the pipeline of leaders, as well as staff, was innate and very strong in me. Staff coaching, training and mentoring sessions enriched my experience as it is truly a two-way learning curve and has been a gratifying way to give back to the organization.


PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?


SS: My mother. She lost her father at the age of 18. Her responsibilities were heavy. She needed to support her mother and younger sister, who were both uneducated. However, she never stopped to think, “Why me?” And with the help of her school headmaster, she joined a teacher’s training academy that paid allowances that she could use to support them while she got trained to be a teacher. There was no looking back for her. In every challenge she has faced, her motto was, “Look forward, learn from the past, improve and improvise.” And there has never been an obstacle that has crippled her.

Soledad O'BrienSoledad O’Brien is a household name in TV news, even though she left her full-time role with CNN back in 2013.


Perhaps it’s because she covered the stories that have defined the past two decades — Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti — and done it really, really well.


But also it’s the fact that, although Soledad left a full-time network job, she hasn’t gone away. She founded the multiplatform media production and distribution company Starfish Media Group after her split with CNN and has been digging deep into the systemic, divisive and critical issues our country is facing.


“People would say, ‘We’re not really interested in poverty. We don’t care about it.’ That’s a quote, by the way,” Soledad says. “There were just a bunch of stories that I wanted to tell.”


Soledad will be one of the keynote speakers at KPMG’s Global Energy Conference, June 6 – 7, in Houston. It’s part of the work Soledad does talking diversity and change at organizations and conferences across the country, and it’s another example of KPMG, one of our valued sponsors, championing diversity of thought and perspective as we enter a new future for energy.


Pink Petro got the chance to chat with Soledad for a wide-ranging, candid, occasionally expletive-infused conversation about everything from entrepreneurship to #MeToo to Monica Lewinksi. Below are excerpts from that conversation (lightly edited for brevity and clarity).


PINK PETRO: You have done a lot of work around diversity. What has that shown you about the state of diversity in America?


SOLEDAD: I have really seen the conversations about diversity change tremendously. They’ve moved out of, ‘It’s good to do,’ to, ‘We cannot afford to constantly be replacing our team.’


‘Morally good to do’ always dies a fast death. It really has to be, ‘We rely on this strategy to be successful as an organization.’ Then you’re going to be staying forever because you’re part of a corporate vision.


Recently, I was at this investment bank’s diversity conference. And they were telling me, ‘We need all the smart women to pick us first. How do we get those women?' This is not a, ‘Wink, wink, we’ve got to do this women’s conference because it will make us look good.’ It’s, ‘We actually need women, and we need to make sure they succeed, and we need to figure out why they aren’t coming to us.’ Ten years ago, 15 years ago, it would have been, ‘It’s a good thing to do.’ That’s not the conversation anymore.


Women and millennials will leave you. And someone else will take them.


PP: There’s a lot going on specifically around women in this country, with the #MeToo movement, etc. What excites you about what you’re seeing for women?


SO: Back in the day, it was, ‘Everybody knows but nobody really does anything about it.’ And now it’s, ‘Wow, this can derail your organization.’


I think we’re at the stage — and sometimes it’s the trickiest stage, right? — where people are having these honest, sometimes painful conversations. You really can’t get anywhere without that.


PP: Why did you make the switch from journalist to entrepreneur?


I was working with a boss, and his vision didn’t match mine. Ultimately, I was very grateful. I think it’s always bad to stay in a place where they don’t share the vision of you and your success.


And it gave me a good opportunity to go and do the things I had thought about doing.


PP: What has the entrepreneurial experience taught you?


SO: You’re crazy if you don’t turn to other people for advice. Why would you not? We all have a list of these ridiculously awful mistakes we’ve made. Why wouldn’t you go to coffee with someone and ask, ‘What are the 10 things you did wrong?’


It took about a year and a half to really get the business going, to feel like I was really the CEO, before it didn’t feel like I was learning something new every day. I don’t like to learn something every day (laughs).


I didn’t have a lot of training. I didn’t have an accounting background. I hadn’t done budgets. I didn’t work in HR. I hadn’t hired people.


I think the best feeling, though, is becoming good at other stuff. I wouldn’t have told you that I could structure a deal well, but I can. That’s been exciting, in my early 50s, to be coming up with new skills and abilities that are certainly important to how our company works.


PP: What are you looking forward to at the KPMG Global Energy Conference?


SO: For me these conferences, they’re really not lectures about energy, right? They’re conversations about how to think about the role of women — and opportunities. I always find them so relevant and fascinating because I get exposed to a lot and I learn a lot.


PP: Do you ever have moments when you regret leaving TV news?


SO: The first week there were a few breaking stories, and it was weird to not be assigned to jump on a plane and go.


So for just a moment I would say, ‘I wish I was jumping on a plane to go cover this breaking story.’ Now that you watch all the cable stations, and it’s nonstop with these massive panels, that just looks like pain to me.


Morning television is exhausting, and there is something nice about making decisions about what you spend your time on and what you don’t, and making decisions about who’s in your space and who’s not.


PP: Do you have a favorite, standout interview?


SO: It depends. The interviews I did during Hurricane Katrina were amazing. Jim Carrey is hilarious. I like interviewing people who are going through a transition.


I’m always interested in, ‘You’re in the middle of this transition. How does it feel? What’s working? What’s not?’ They’re only really fun if you can dig into something about them.


You know who would be interesting? Monica Lewinski. I follow her on Twitter, and I think she’s just fascinating. At the time she was making news, it wasn’t thoughtful, slowed down coverage. She’d be interesting to sit down with and have a wide-ranging conversation.


Halliburton, a valued Pink Petro community sponsor and corporate member, is publishing a series of videos across social media as part of a campaign to highlight the impressive women in it's ranks. 


This week, meet Courtney Beck, a geologist and earth modeler at Halliburton. Courtney is also a board member of Halliburton’s global women’s organization, Women Sharing Excellence. In this video, she shares her thoughts on how and why to pursue a career in a STEM field. “I think there’s a lot of young women out there who don’t know that STEM careers are for everyone, and I think they get discouraged along the way.”



For more on how you can join Halliburton, search available jobs at Experience Energy

Sea Sisters founder and Ally CedenoThere's a new episode from the Women Offshore podcast! 


This month, our friends at Women Offshore — an online organization whose mission is to shine a light on women in the offshore and maritime industries — talk with Sea Sisters' founder and editor Elizabeth Siminstad.


Elizabeth started working on the water in January of 2010 on an oceangoing tugboat in Seattle, Wash. In her first four years working on the water, Elizabeth was the only female on board. She eventually found herself in a fleet rich in diversity.


“It was around that time that I decided to take a shot at an idea I’d had for awhile: Create a website built by women, where we could gather and encourage each other, and tell our stories of what it meant to be a woman on the water.”


Click here to listen to this month’s podcast in full!

pink petro experience energyI’m taking part in a very special activity— the Speak Out and Take Action Summit happening in the Energy Capital.  Big thanks to James Tastard, an CHRO in energy who has championed this conversation as a male advocate for the SHIFT we're seeing in our society and workplaces.


I’m thrilled to reunite with HERWorld17 keynote speaker and “expert on modern dads and UN advocate” Josh Levs, who will be taking the mic and talking about his vision on how men can play a role in the culture change we see happening in driving a more equal world.


And I believe in what this represents — namely that speaking out and taking action are powerful steps to changing the world as know it.


But there's one piece missing.


But there’s one more step we must take to accelerate the pace of change in our industry and our culture as a whole: We need to talk about it. We need to socialize it. We need to show others what we’ve done and inspire them to do the same.


The industry doesn’t talk about what it does well.


And I get it — the media is not always kind to energy, so why open yourself up to it if you don’t have to?  (But I quite love sharing the stories of what we do and why it matters.  


The thing is, we have to.


There’s just no getting around it.  If we want to draw diverse, talented people into the industry, we have to show them what’s waiting for them on the inside.  We have to be open to new ideas, keeping our biases in check, and shattering our tendency to assume "this wasn't invented here" so why change it?


Talking about ourselves and, more importantly, our people will take some getting used to. Everything has always been about what’s in the ground, what’s in our reserves. We’ve been a commodity-driven industry, and the people were hidden.


But it’s not just what we produce that’s valuable; it’s who we are.


That people-first approach mirrors what’s happening in all kinds of industries, but for energy, it marks a monumental shift. Yes, we have amazing people working in our ranks. Yes, they are doing groundbreaking, innovative things.


And yes, we’re going to talk about them.  We've been talking about them for the past three years and have been doing more recently to increase those conversations and stories.  


We are no longer commodities and need to stop thinking of our companies in this way.


Profitpeople and purpose.

The new T’s and C’s are talent and culture. We’ve got to embrace the shift in mindset and focus, and then we’ve got to socialize it. 


Here are just a few ways we've socialized some great women in energy: Tyra Metoyer on the importance of grit and grace, Covestro’s Jennifer Walsh is a study in survival, resilience and success, Elizabeth Cambre on the power of women in energy technology, Former FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable, What Vantage Drilling's Linda Ibrahim did when she learned hard work wasn't enough, How HDR's Colleen Layman became a woman of power The strategy behind Kate Sherwood's success: Go for what you want, no matter what  and the list just goes on and on. 


When we launched Pink Petro in 2015, our goal was to focus on the people and build a community. We knew there were amazing women working in energy. They were colleagues and friends. There were unsung heroes who needed visibility and they weren’t part of the larger industry narrative. No one thought about powerhouse women when they thought about energy.  Women are great at getting down to the work but not tooting their horns.


We knew the reality was much more nuanced, and we wanted to show the world that it's about time we socialize the great things women in our industry are doing and the benefits of that work.


But we can’t do it alone.


We need the industry to speak out about its people, to take action by building diverse, inclusive teams and we need them to socialize it. Socializing what success looks like is what creates more.  We need to make career opportunities visible, recognize people and humanize the industry.  


This is the industry that powers the world — from oil and gas to solar, wind and natural gas. This is work with purpose. This is the kind of work that can inspire a new generation of workers.  


But we have to tell them about it first and show it's possible.


So today, I’m speaking out and taking action. And I’m spreading the word. I’m going to live the shift, to demonstrate to others too how they can do it.  It's just means using your voice and leveraging a platform to share that expertise.


And it doesn’t stop here. Stay tuned for a big announcement coming later this week from the team at Pink Petro and Experience Energy that’s all about shining a light on the people who make this industry such an amazing place to be.

Halliburton, a valued Pink Petro community sponsor and corporate member, is publishing a series of videos across social media as part of a campaign to highlight the impressive women in it's ranks. 


This week, we meet Cinthia, a senior engineer for production enhancement who knows the importance of training in the field. “You won’t be able to imagine thousands of gallons of fluid being pumped down together with sand. Our equipment is really amazing. It’s very difficult just to imagine; you have to live it,” she says. In this video, she shares the keys to learning and development at Halliburton. Let’s set an example for all the young women out there who dream of a career in #STEM! 


Angie GildeaAs a 36-year-old engineer with over 10 years of operational and technical experience in upstream oil and gas, it recently dawned on me that, to rise to the top ranks of corporate America, I would need to more deeply develop my own executive excellence.


Like many women in oil and gas, I had been so focused on becoming a technical expert in my field, attempting to solve the problems of exploration and production companies while simultaneously generating revenue for the company I worked for, that I failed to realize that, to progress beyond the ranks of a global product line manager, I needed an overhaul of my executive presence.


To further explore this concept, I am writing a series of articles about what I have learned on my journey to find executive excellence. This first article focuses on an interview I conducted with Angie Gildea (at left), a partner at KPMG, to garner advice for young professionals seeking a seat on a nonprofit board.


Let’s first talk about executive presence or what I am calling executive excellence.


In my mind, executive excellence means curating a strong social and business network, displaying charisma, emotional intelligence, negotiation skills, executive appearance, leadership and branding while providing mentorship and sponsorship to others. My definition of executive presence expanded after interviewing Angie. From this conversation, I have added to my definition the ability to speak to many different audiences, while interpreting non-verbal cues to read an audience, all in an effort to strategically add value.


In this article, I will focus on advice from Angie on what it takes to get a seat on a nonprofit board. Being an engineer with minimal exposure to business school, I must admit I am fascinated by consultants — to the degree that I purchased many books like Case in Point and The McKinsey Mind, visited the Bain & Company office in Boston, and sat with Accenture and McKinsey consultants over lunch to pick their brains. I even practiced case frameworks to get my mind thinking like a consultant. Therefore, interviewing a consulting partner such as Angie was an honor.


Angie first started working at Accenture in 1999 after leaving behind both a job at Houston’s MD Anderson working on clinical trials and a dream to become a physician. She turned to consulting and signed with Accenture where she worked with clients such as Chevron, with projects related to Y2K, the rise of the Internet, how to use the Internet internally in an organization, and online catalogs. In 2003, she started working on projects around Digital Oilfield.


After seven years working with Accenture, Angie gave birth to her first child. It was then that she contemplated leaving behind corporate life to focus on motherhood, full time. Instead, she was able to negotiate a part-time position that allowed her both to further her career while raising her daughter.


For the next three and half years, Angie worked two days per week though many of her colleagues and clients were unaware of her reduced hours because she was just that good at her job. Part-time employment forced her to focus on bringing value, as the two days she did work meant she needed to maximize her time to the fullest.


In 2011, while on maternity leave with her second child, Angie was promoted to partner, bringing her back to full-time employment. In 2014, she was recruited by KPMG and offered a partnership she could not refuse. It was exciting to hear about the power house of females working for KPMG — from the CEO, Lynne Doughtie, to Regina Mayor, who manages the Exxon Mobile account.


Finally, we turned our conversation to talk women and boards. Angie is a former Junior League member, so it was no surprise to find that she is now serving on five different nonprofit boards. She serves on the board for Theatre Under the Stars, Big Brothers Big Sisters – Houston Chapter, Big Brothers Big Sisters – LoneStar Chapter, Trees of Hope and River Oaks Baptist School. She served on her first board at the age of 38.


Angie strategically outlined her attainment of these board seats to me in the following steps:


Step 1. Start with a nonprofit board. It is much easier for individuals to take the leap from nonprofit board seats to for-profit board seats. Nonprofit boards typically have the same governance structure as a for-profit board.


Step 2. Find something that you are passionate about. For her, it was all about children, education and women.


Step 3. Use your company to help place you on a board. Seek out the corporate social responsibility leader at your organization and find out what nonprofit organizations your company supports. It is often that your organization tracks the number of its employees serving on boards and has and will be able to help place you on a board.


Step 4. Understand that there is going to be some financial or time responsibility either from you or your corporation. You must demonstrate to the organization that you have skin in the game. It is not really so much about how much you personally contribute, but rather that you do it.


I then asked Angie if there were many young individuals (under 40) serving on any of the boards she works with. She candidly replied, ‘No.’ However, organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters are trying to change this. They have created a young professionals organization that gives the younger generation exposure to the board and for the board to connect with up-and-coming leaders. The Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors even created an advisory board seat for a young professional.


The time commitment per board is roughly once a quarter for a handful of hours.


Now, because I know the business savviness a consultant brings to the table, I couldn’t help but ask if engineers like myself would have a harder time finding a board seat. Angie responded brilliantly that everyone brings something unique to the table, whether it be legal advice, finance, technology expertise, strategic thinking or fundraising experience. She did hone in on the idea that it is important for you to know the value that you would bring to the table.


Experience with nonprofit boards is a potent first step towards seeking a seat on a for-profit board, which I will discuss in a future article.

Halliburton womenWhen Pink Petro launched in 2015, it was not long after oil prices plummeted. The industry was reeling, and we sensed the time was right. We knew that when energy bounced back — and we knew it would — it would need to bring with it a new approach to talent and culture, with diversity and inclusion foremost in mind.


Some companies got it, right off the bat. One of those was Halliburton.


They became a supporter of Pink Petro from our inception, and now we are pleased to announce, that support extends to our careers and talent platform, Experience Energy.


Experience Energy is a destination for top talent looking for their next great opportunity and for companies looking to build powerful, inclusive teams. Halliburton saw that and the potential to tap it as a resource for building its own organization. They’ve posted a dozen jobs to the site in recent weeks — a list that includes everything from an entry-level operator assistant to a senior materials control specialist to a cementing engineer. (To search and apply, click here.)


Halliburton’s involvement with Experience Energy is an extension of the work the company is doing internally to build an inclusive culture company-wide.


One such effort is the Halliburton Family Care Program, which launched in the U.S. this month. The benefits are generous, progressive — and could go a long way toward keeping women in the workforce. They include:


  • up to five paid days a year to care for a sick child, parent or immediate family member
  • an expansion of the company’s maternity leave benefits that allows both mothers and fathers to take 8 weeks of paid leave within the first year to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child, which is in addition to the six to eight weeks of medical leave benefits associated with a birth
  • additional financial support for employees who adopt
  • additional support for employees with fertility issues


“As we work to support our diverse and inclusive culture, we seek to offer benefits that support the needs of our multigenerational workforce,” Mahesh Puducheri, Halliburton global vice president of human resources said in a statement. “The Halliburton family extends beyond our employees, and we believe that, by taking care of our entire, extended family, we strengthen our legacy going forward.


The program came about after a focus group of employees — both in the field and in the office — made a variety of recommendations to improve the company’s family benefits.


Not every company listens to those recommendations — nor does every company take action. We applaud Halliburton for seeing the value in putting culture first — and investing in diverse talent from the start.


If you want to join the Halliburton team, check out Experience Energy today!

Halliburton, a valued Pink Petro community sponsor and corporate member, is publishing a series of videos across social media as part of a campaign to highlight the impressive women in it's ranks. 


This week, we meet Ashley Clark, an opportunity to cash analyst at Halliburton. With her mother being an engineer and her grandmother a science teacher, Ashley had a long line of STEM women in her family that influenced her career choices. We sat down with her to talk about her role as an analyst and what it’s like to carry on the STEM flag at Halliburton.



For more on how you can join Halliburton, search available jobs at  Experience Energy!

conference stock imageLast year was my first time attending LAGCOE, a biannual event in Louisiana that includes speeches from oilfield industry leaders, prospective technology and lots of professional networking.


As I sauntered through the Cajundome and the neighboring Convention Center, I soaked in all that I could. I was thirsty to understand the ins and outs of the upstreams, midstreams and downstreams.


My position as a part-time industrial safety instructor had recently thrust me into the oil world for the first time in my career. And so — despite a master’s degree and certification as an associate safety professional — I felt uninformed.


LAGCOE was my crash course.


Before LAGCOE, I worked hard to orient myself in the industry. I talked with friends who had worked in the field for years, I listened to podcasts, and I read books related to the Deepwater Horizon incident. I watched offshore training videos, and I researched new technologies. I knew that this type of superficial knowledge would never be the same as working 14/14 hitches, so I was excited to get to LAGCOE to shake hands and talk with people about my budding career.


I had this fantasy that, despite the novelty of my gender and my lack of offshore experience, the professionals there would be impressed with my credentials and zest for the industry and snag me up as a protégée.


That was, in fact, a fantasy.


As I walked up and down the rows of tables that day, comments about my gender or hair or looks or smile kept creeping up.  Admittedly, there were more polite hellos than patronizing sexist remarks, but the fact that there were any soured my mood.


But I pressed on. Professional development was more important to me that day than educating social dinosaurs on gender equality. The more I know about equipment, the better I can be at keeping workers from hurting themselves.


But it became clear that the equipment wasn’t meant for women like me.


When I walked up to a booth to learn more about a machine I’d never seen before, I was told that the shiny things on the table — pens, key rings and other marketing tchotchkes — must be working. They were meant to lure “pretty girls” to the booths. Apparently, “pretty girls” aren’t interested in state-of-the-art pieces of equipment. I could not believe a professional had just said that.


And so, there’s no surprise how I reacted. How else would I react? After the hours and months of research, leg work, planning, education, training and experience to become an expert in my field, I did what women around me do all the time.


I laughed it off politely.


As one of the few women there to learn and make professional contacts, how else could I react?


I'm conscientious enough to realize there would be repercussions for calling this older man out on his sexism, which is what I'd do in almost any other setting.


Among these good old boys, though, I’d likely be seen as an uppity woman who can’t keep her cool, who can’t take a joke, who needs to get laid.


It seems crass, but these are some of the actual assessments I’ve heard of women who stand up to men who are “teasing.”


Later, when I was talking with colleagues (again as the only woman), we were approached by beautiful (and scantily clad) women who were handing out fliers. A few of the men in my group were given passes to a party at a local strip club. It was then that they laughed about previous years, when LAGCOE had been more of a party than a trade show. They reminisced about how the rows of booths would be accompanied by exotic dancers, “Hooters” girls, lots of alcohol and lasciviousness all around.


Although I’m no stranger to revelry and debauchery, I was put off that this expo, which was so full of potential, had once been demoted to a giant bachelor party. This year’s event was smaller, they said, and much tamer than it used to be.


I wanted to share my experience with my colleagues and discuss how those parties of the past probably contributed to the objectification women like me face in professional settings. I had no doubt that talented women had walked away from this type of behavior. I wanted to underscore how much of a cost this was to the struggling oil field.


But then, would I be labeled the dirty word of “feminist” and written off?


Maybe if you haven’t been in the position of being a woman in a male-dominated field, it’s hard to understand why an educated, skilled woman would care so much about how she was viewed by a bunch of sexist (or ignorant) men.


But I care because I want my seat at the table. I exercise patience so I can grow my career and make a difference. And so, I grinned and politely chuckled. Just like I do when they apologize for cursing in my presence.

Because you know women: We get distracted by shiny objects. We’re bored by heavy machines. And we DEFINITELY can’t tolerate a vulgar word.


This won’t be my last LAGCOE attendance. I respect the organization and what it stands for. I don’t tell this story to lambast its organizers. I look forward to their next event where I will recognize more faces and be more prepared to hold my own in shop talk.

But we should not have to grin and bear it.


I recognize that the days are numbered for experiences like mine, and I am celebrating. 

Michelle Lewis DNOWThis week in Profiles in GRIT we meet Michelle Lewis, who was until very recently the chief strategy officer, SVP of corporate development and investor relations for DNOW, a publicly traded supply chain solution company with annual revenues of approximately $3 billion.


We say “until recently” because Michelle has just embarked on a new chapter in life. She has accepted a position with a private equity firm in Houston and we are anxiously awaiting the details.


We were thrilled to honor Michelle at the first-ever GRIT Awards back in March, and now we’re thrilled to share some of her story with you.


PINK PETRO: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?


ML: Violating the Golden Rule and not treating others how I want to be treated. This was most evident early in my career as new management.  I wanted to prove myself quickly as a "get things done" leader. Without giving it much thought, I channeled a mix of Hollywood movies and a handful of bad bosses into a caricature of the "tough" manager.  Turns out that that was not the way to get things done. Aggressively pushing from behind created resentful, under-performing employees. 


I was lucky enough to have an honest, forthright employee who literally came to tell me one day, “You are a bad manager. Horrible in fact.” It just so happens, it was my husband. (Yes, this was before that wasn’t allowed by HR.) But, understandably so, no one else on my team would have given me the wakeup call I so greatly needed. It was one of the best things that could have happened to me.


PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?


ML: Sappy but true; my mom. 


Why? She blazed her own path despite having little support from the family in which she grew up. Growing up in Yankton, South Dakota, she was the youngest of nine, and as a child, she was responsible for helping raise the children of her older sisters. Despite a modest start, she had high expectations of herself. She left home for Texas at 18 and never returned. She wanted to be a world traveler, to be a professional, to have a higher standing in her community and to always help others. She has accomplished all four in addition to raising two similarly motivated daughters. She became an emergency room nurse and worked at Parkland hospital when JFK was shot and worked her way to Ben Taub County Hospital in Houston. Still today she will tell you that if she ever gets stabbed that’s where she wants to be taken because they have the most experience dealing with trauma victims. (Yes, we have some interesting dinner conversations.) She has never stopped learning, has exercised every day of her life and continues to be active, travel around the globe and contribute to her community at 81. She just came back from Myanmar last week. She decided to go just because she had never been.   


PP: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?


ML: I live it every day.


The combination of the most challenging down cycle in my career with the bias against not having been born and raised in the industry. For me, it is three steps forward and two steps back every day. It is challenging to not take the external and internal scrutiny personally. But, every time I see or hear a change in perspective from one of my colleagues, then I know I am helping move the needle.


PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?


ML: I have been to a lot of interesting places, worked with some incredibly smart people, closed $7 billion worth of deals from Texas to Kazakhstan, helped set up two companies from scratch, and IPO’d one. But the most rewarding has been the last few years, when I have been more focused on developing others rather than myself. Whether it’s a friend who is starting her own cosmetics line or a young woman who is trying to get more exposure with the leadership team, I am really enjoying helping others move through the challenges in front of them and offering another perspective on how they can see things and eventually address them. 


PP: What’s next for you, and what inspired you to switch gears at this stage of your career?


ML: I’m a builder. I always have been. If I’m not building a company, or a team, or a revenue channel, then I feel like I am standing still, and if you spend time with me, you’ll know that I am generally only still when I am meditating. I have literally been called out for running in the office too much — in heels.


I have loved DNOW and all of the opportunities from NOV to now. No pun intended. We acquired a company of equal size, spun off from NOV and went public, implemented SAP and allocated capital to 12 more companies. That was all a lot of fun. Then came the downcycle. We worked hard to increase the efficiencies of the business and preserve the core while integrating all of the acquisitions we made. And we not only survived, but I heartily believe we are all stronger for it. A little bruised, maybe, a little humbler, but the company and all of the people in it are smarter, more focused and ready to win more than ever before. It’s been a great run and I’ve learned a tremendous amount, and I am appreciative for that, but now it is time for me to move on; to lean-in with another organization to see what I can do to help facilitate their move to the next level. I guess I’m kind of like Nanny McPhee in that way.


PP: What excites you about your next chapter?


ML: The thrill of the unknown excites me. I can’t wait to dive into a new industry and new end markets. I love the honeymoon period where you just can’t get enough of learning and figuring something out, asking questions with a fresh eyes approach and taking all of that in so that you can contribute to the team and be a part of their next stage of development.

Khaliah GuilloryWhat is “dopeness”?


Khaliah Guillory, a professional speaker and coach, gets asked that question a lot. Inspiring “dopeness” is her value proposition, but it comes with a learning curve for most of us.


It certainly did with Khaliah, our guest this month on Coach’s Corner on May 10. (Register here— Coach’s Corner is always complimentary for Pink Petro members!)


The concept came to life for her early in her 14-career in banking — which had never been part of her plan.


Originally from Port Arthur, Texas, Khaliah got a basketball scholarship to the University of Central Florida and majored in communications. She wanted to work in radio as an on-air personality. She even landed a job at an Orlando radio station post-graduation.


But around that time, her mom was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Khaliah decided to move to Houston. But, without the radio connections she had built in Orlando, she needed a new career track. Her sister suggested she give banking a try. So she took a job at Wachovia.


Khaliah was on the fast track from day one. And just before Wachovia merged with Wells Fargo, she was asked to join the company’s diversity council, a group populated almost exclusively by C-suite leaders. It represented an incredible opportunity for Khaliah, then just 26 years old.


Except for one thing.


“I got the application, and they asked for sexual orientation. I was not out at work. That presented a problem,” Khaliah recalls.


She had heard the horror stories about those who disclosed their sexual orientation to their company and suffered extreme consequences — getting shunned or outright fired.


“I thought: ‘My career’s on the fast track. I don’t need anything that’s going to deter it. I only want to be measured on my performance,’” she recalls. “At the time, it was all about my career. It was about how can I get to the next rung as fast and furious as possible.”


She reached out to her HR liaison and confessed her fears that coming out would constitute career suicide. The liaison assured her she was not about to sacrifice her potential. But Khaliah was still scared.


So she called her sister, who was significantly more direct.


“She said, ‘If they don’t want you because of that, then despite all that you’ve contributed, you shouldn’t want them either,’” Khaliah recalls. “And I was like, ‘Whoa, you’re right.’ I hung up the phone and completed the application.”


She also made a decision. She wasn’t going to compartmentalize her life any longer. She was going to bring her whole self everywhere — something she decided to call “dopeness.” And it was about more than just sexual orientation. It was about embracing everything you bring to the table, even the parts of ourselves we may be inclined to hide — whether that be religion, age or socioeconomic status.


“That’s how this really all came to be. I want people to avoid having to navigate life through society’s lens. Instead, I want them to view the world only through the lens that was specifically prescribed for them,” she says. “Then — and only then — you can truly ‘unleash your dopeness’ on the world.”


That message has brought her speaking gigs from big-name clients, including NASA, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, GameStop, Keller Williams and the National Diversity Council — all organizations that have hired Khaliah to preach about “dopeness” and why companies need to embrace the human element.  


“We speak a lot about customer-centric approaches and all this jazz, which is true: Without a customer, we wouldn’t be in business. But I’m focusing on a people-centric approach,” Khaliah explains. “Having a human-to-human connection — that’s what we need to get back to.”


And don’t worry about ROI, she adds. That will come, in the form of greater employee engagement, creativity and productivity — and the removal of limiting thoughts.


Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is literally putting their people first?” she says.


Want to hear more from Khaliah? Register for Coach’s Corner on May 10!

NES Global Talent joins Pink Petro to help diversify the energy workforce

Partnership solidifies NES corporate commitment to providing top talent to oil and gas, chemicals, power and more

Tig GilliamALTRINCHAM, UK — (May 8, 2018) — NES Global Talent, an international staffing firm specializing in technology and engineering recruitment across multiple industries, has partnered with Pink Petro to support women professionals in energy industry jobs. Based in Houston, Pink Petro is a global community of men and women aimed at ending the gender gap in energy.

Over the past 40 years, NES Global Talent has built its reputation on providing the oil and gas industry, among other sectors, with the highly skilled talent necessary to compete in the global marketplace. The partnership with Pink Petro reflects NES’ commitment to ensuring that talent pool is also highly diverse.

“The research is undeniable: Companies rich in diversity are more successful than their more homogenous counterparts. At NES, we have long recognized the value of diversity. That’s why aligning with Pink Petro made perfect sense,” said Tig Gilliam, NES Global Talent CEO (above). “This partnership makes it clear to our internal team members, as well as our external clients and community, that we are committed to ensuring the energy workforce of the future is one built on inclusion.”

The partnership with Pink Petro will provide live and on demand professional development, coaching and mentorship opportunities for NES professionals and executives — men and women. It also unites the NES Global Talent team of 650 with Pink Petro’s community of 10,000 energy leaders committed to sharing best practices on diversity in the workforce and elevating women in the industry.

“Pink Petro was built around the need to bust the gender gap in energy — so that women could succeed and the industry could reap the rewards of a talented, inclusive workforce,” says Katie Mehnert, Pink Petro founder and CEO. “NES Global Talent gets that, and we are thrilled to have them join our fast-growing community of leaders in energy.”

About NES Global Talent

NES Global Talent is an award-winning manpower specialist that provides candidates across the oil and gas, power, construction and infrastructure, life sciences, manufacturing, chemicals, mining and IT sectors worldwide. The company provides guaranteed staffing solutions, sourced from a global talent pool by a dedicated, discipline-specific team of over 650 staff spread across over 48 offices in 28 countries throughout Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For more information, visit


About Pink Petro

Pink Petro is the leading global community and social enterprise aimed at ending the gender gap in energy. Using social technology, its mission is to elevate and connect individuals, companies and industry to create a connected, inclusive workforce and supply chain. The community has a presence in 120 countries and in nearly 500 companies across energy in oil and natural gas, LNG, renewables, and nuclear. For more on how your company can join Pink Petro and take the lead in diversity and inclusion, click here. 

Alaina BascianoEarlier this year, our friends over at Women Offshore — an online organization whose mission is to shine a light on women in the offshore and maritime industries — launched a monthly podcast.


In the most recent episode, Ally Cedeno, founder of Women Offshore, interviews Chief Officer Alaina Basciano, on board the USNS Henson, an oceanographic research vessel. She’s a licensed USCG unlimited tonnage master — and she’s just 30 years old.


In the interview, Alaina shares some of her stories from the sea, as well as how she was able to overcome some of the challenges she’s faced in her career.


Check out the podcast here. You can also subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts.


Many thanks to Ally and Women Offshore for letting us share their work with our community! 

Jaime Glas HERWorld18This week in Profiles in GRIT — our opportunity to highlight the winners of our first-ever GRIT Awards earlier this year — we introduce you to Jamie Glas (at left in the photo), owner and managing director of HauteWork (formerly Hot Stuff Safetywear).


If you came to the GRIT Awards presentation during HERWorld, you may remember our founder and CEO, Katie Mehnert, handing out the awards in a stunning blue jumpsuit. That came from Jaime.


She created HauteWork to give women in the oil and gas industry a brand of flame-resistant clothing (FRC) made exclusively for working women by working women. Her mission is to design safe, comfortable, functional and stylish FRC that is flattering to all female forms.


Here’s what you need to know about this petroleum engineer-turned-fashion entrepreneur.


PINK PETRO: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?


JAIME GLAS: The FRC industry is one that hasn't seen new blood in 30 years or so. It is a good ol’ boys club, and most of the players will do what they can to keep it that way. Another big challenge for the development of this brand has been finding a trusted manufacturer to make the final sales garments. For instance, I would go far down the process of production with one manufacturer only to have them claim insufficient capacity and pull the plug. Others have purchased the garments to try and knock them off. I have learned that business is business, and even if you start a project to have fun and grow, most people you deal with are only concerned about making money. Understanding this allows you to find those genuine people/partnerships that will make your venture a success. It also teaches you to protect yourself legally where you can and just keep swimming.


PP: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?


JG: The mistake I continually made in the beginning of this venture was to trust everyone I attempted to work with. I wasted almost two years of time and money with the first patternmaker I contracted who never intended to make garments that were actually flame-resistant. I allowed the relationship to continue for too long, hoping my instincts were wrong, and it set back the development of the brand. All I’ve wanted is to get these products to the market as soon as possible to provide women with an acceptable option for FRC’s. But life is a journey, and every mistake is a learning experience.  I now may be overly skeptical of every encounter, but I think it has helped me avoid potentially negative situations. 

PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?


JG: People tell me all the time that they can’t believe I found a way to marry two completely different interests into a business that actually makes sense. Growing up, I always had a particular interest in fashion. When I went to college, I treated my first year as a learning experience and took a variety of courses from fashion history to differential equations to Mandarin language. When I accepted my first internship with Chevron, I was truly treating the experience as a trial in the industry to see if I enjoyed the work. One of the first observations I made about life in the oil field was not only the shortage of women, but also the flame-resistant clothing options that were very clearly designed for men. After that summer, I knew I wanted to be a petroleum engineer. The industry is electric, and there is an addictive feeling working for an industry that very literally fuels the world. But I always had in the back of my mind that maybe one day safety wear could be my opportunity to combine my experience in the industry and my love of fashion. This has been the most rewarding part of all. 


PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?


JG: During the four years that I worked at Chevron, Melody Meyer was literally a celebrity — especially among the women in the workforce and certainly to me and all of my friends. I can remember on numerous occasions telling our personnel development coaches that the career I wanted was Melody’s. She joined the industry when it was even more uncommon for a female, and she surpassed thousands of men to retire as one of the top leaders in Chevron. Her reputation was positive throughout all levels of the organization. I remember very clearly reading her “Open Letter to the Chevron Woman” when she retired. She has always been an inspiration because, no matter how high she climbed the proverbial ladder, she always seems relatable and caring. I cannot imagine the setbacks and prejudices she overcame, but you would never know her struggles watching her lead a group or speak to you one-on-one.

Kimberly Harris Every three years, the World Gas Conference attracts some of the brightest minds in energy. This year is no different, and as a social media partner for the 2018 event, we are introducing you to some of the formidable women who will be speaking in Washington, D.C., at the end of June.


First, we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Harris, chair of the board of the American Gas Association and president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy, Washington state’s largest utility serving more than 1.5 million customers across 10 counties.


Kimberly will be speaking during the opening ceremony Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. We caught up with her earlier this year to get a little more insight into her life and career — and how she got where she is today.


PINK PETRO: How did you get your start in energy?

KIMBERLY HARRIS: I got hooked on the energy industry in my first job out of law school. I was living in Abilene, Texas, at the time, working for the largest law firm in town. I served as outside counsel for the local electric company. That was it — I was captivated by the dedication of individuals in the field. They were first responders who were absolutely committed to customers. Layer on top of that the unique combination of engineering and physics that goes into our business, plus our role in providing and operating infrastructure that’s essential to every business, community and family. And the industry is constantly changing and adapting. I couldn’t ask for a more intellectually challenging and personally rewarding career.


PP: What excites you about the industry right now?

KH: I’m really excited about the way utilities are thinking about energy consumers of the future and adapting our companies to meet their needs. Customers are our north star and the key to the current and future health of our industry. Specific to natural gas, we must ensure that we are building for the millions of Americans who want access to natural gas and its cost savings and environmental benefits. We are advancing new technologies and practices to create cleaner options for the customers we have today and the customers we’ll have in the future.


PP: What are you looking forward to most at the World Gas Conference?

KH: Emissions are at their lowest levels in decades, and Americans enjoy affordable, reliable and safe energy. This is due largely to our domestic abundance of natural gas and an industry dedicated to delivering it in a way that earns the confidence of customers and policymakers. Other nations are looking to learn from our example. I am looking forward to those conversations, sharing our best practices with the world and learning from the natural gas companies in other nations.


PP: How did your career progress to the level you’re at now?

KH: I’m a lifelong learner and curious about everything, and that has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone on many occasions. Some pivotal points are when I first left my law firm and went to Puget Sound Energy. Then I stopped practicing law for the company and took on a new role in regulatory and government affairs. I also took a really big leap and went into operations — that was completely out of my comfort zone! Each of these opportunities opened my eyes wider, not only to the industry but also in how to bring people together, to collaborate and to solve problems. That’s the essence of what I do now, both in my role as president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy and as chair of the American Gas Association (AGA).


PP: Tell me a bit about your role at present. What does an average day look like, and what are some of your professional goals for 2018?

KH: As chair of the AGA, I am leading a forward-looking conversation about our companies and our industry. On a practical level, that means traveling across the country and leading sessions at AGA and industry conferences on every aspect of our businesses, from operations to personnel management. My goal is to inspire leaders at natural gas utilities to embrace the inevitable changes coming in our energy landscape and to have the tools to make the most of those opportunities.


PP: Pink Petro is committed to creating a more inclusive energy industry. Why does inclusivity matter to you, and what do you think about the progress being made in energy?

KH: Inclusion is one of my areas of focus as AGA chair. By inclusion, I mean having men and women with a range of ideas, skills and perspectives who can lead us into the future.


More than a decade ago, AGA helped found the Center for Energy Workforce Development, a nonprofit consortium of electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and the associations that help utilities work together to develop workforce solutions. AGA also started a scholarship program in 2014 that partners with 27 colleges and technical schools to provide $1 million in funding for students focused on fields related to energy. Over a five-year period, more than 200 scholarships will be awarded.


Fast forward to 2018: Our efforts are having an impact, and utilities are taking a more holistic approach to their workforce planning. More work remains to be done, though, and we have to ensure that we’re being intentional about inclusion. It’s one thing to talk about it, but the real work comes in making it a reality. That’s why I take every opportunity I can to tell young people about the rewarding careers that can be found at an energy company, and why I’ve been involved with AGA’s Next Level Leadership Women’s Program.


PP: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

KH: My perspective is more about lessons learned. When I have opportunities like this to reflect, a pretty clear pattern emerges, with three key lessons:  


Never stop stretching. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, to continue to champion innovation, and to push yourself and the thought leadership of the organization.


Surround yourself with great people. Nothing is more rewarding than watching employees knock it out of the park.


Celebrate success. This one is hard for utility companies. We’re very focused on operational excellence — so much so that we sometimes forget that we need to stop, celebrate and have some fun together.


Special note: Our own Katie Mehnert will be joining a panel at the World Gas Conference on Wednesday, June 27, titled “Inclusion Drives Innovation: Promoting Women and Diversity.” This session will explore how organizations can be more effective in promoting women and diversity in the workforce. The panelists will also address what it takes to become a leader in this industry and give perspectives on gender diversity from industry leaders around the world. For more on what WGC has to offer this year, check out the program online here.  

Elizabeth Rogo“I started my own company because I wanted my seat at the table.”


Those words — spoken by Elizabeth Rogo (at left), founder and CEO of TSAVO Oilfield Services — brought a hush over the room Tuesday at Energy in the Age of Inclusion, the latest experience from Pink Petro.


Elizabeth was one of the speakers on our Energy Disruptors panel, talking about the entrepreneurs changing the future of energy. The afternoon also focused on inclusion, and Elizabeth’s comment speaks to both: Energy needs diversity of perspective, experience, ethnicity and gender to do the kind of disruptive, game-changing work this industry needs. And if talented, driven individuals don’t see an inclusive culture where they are, they will leave and create one of their own.


So they can have their seat at the table.


There were many such highlights from our afternoon at the Queensbury Theater in Houston — from our panelists and our attendees. Thank you to all who came, and if you missed out, you can watch both panels on demand:



Here are some more memorable quotes from Energy in the Age of Inclusion, both during and after the event:

Energy in the Age of Inclusion1 

“As an HR professional, I need to continually assess if talented women are being allowed to realize their aspirations in our organization or if they face fewer barriers to success elsewhere. I should be driving programs and cultural shifts that will allow women to succeed without having to leave.”  — Hannah Royall, Marathon Oil



“Traveling from Norway to specifically attend this event was the best investment I could make. You truly have created something magic, and I’m so happy to be part of this movement.” — Rita Hausken Barkhodaee, strategist & coach


“Ideas and seeing opportunities almost have nothing to do with experience. You need experience when you take the idea to make it a viable business.” — Mike Adams, co-founder, Norwell EDGE


“Culture is at our root. The culture and the feedback really make an impact to an organization.” — Brittany Schaefer, VP, Medallia


Energy in the Age of Inclusion2

“Think about where technology was in the mid-90s. The world is your oyster when it comes to technology. It all comes down to making good decisions. There are many tools to help you do a better job, but it comes down to a few things: What can you do? What decisions do I have authority to make? What do you want to do? What are the dynamics?” — David Skinner, CEO, KCA


“The fastest and easiest way to innovate is to look at other industries to see what they are doing well and take from there. When we train for innovation, diversity or inclusion, we have to shift our new mindset to new ideas. Shift your beliefs, and spread that around.” — Jessica Higgins, COO, Gapingvoid Culture Design Group  


“Be very clear and direct about what you want. In the past, I saw them bring others in and I trained them, but I had been passed over. I realized they didn’t even know I wanted the position.” — Michele McNichol, CEO, Arion

Energy in the Age of Inclusion3

“Sometimes you don’t have a mentor and you just have to take a leap of faith. I’m actually seeing a group of women I can go to in this room. And you have to be the one to encourage others.” — Elizabeth Rogo, founder & CEO, TSAVO Oilfield Services


“Entrepreneurs need you to take a chance on us.” — Alma Del Toro, founder & president, Blue Bull Energy


Want more where this came from? Become part of the Pink Petro community! We offer you the opportunity to join a powerful community of women and men around the world who are changing the future of energy. You can join as an individual or corporate member, or become a sponsor to power what we do every single day.


Trust us, we worth the investment.

Tameka RamseyThis week, we continue our series Profiles in GRIT.


This is our opportunity to highlight the winners of our first-ever GRIT Awards back in March at HERWorld Energy Forum. They are the difference-makers in energy — the industry leaders who embody growth, resilience, innovation and transition in a transparent world.


Now we'd like you to meet Tameka Ramsey, manager of global compliance and ethics at ConocoPhillips. Early in her career, she learned the importance of asking for what you want so you can get where you want to go. Now, she’s committed to helping others achieve the same goal.


Get to know more about Tameka below!


PINK PETRO: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?


TAMEKA RAMSEY: Spending my days trying to do the right thing. I am humbled by the fact that my company has entrusted me to uphold our culture of integrity, prevent organizational misconduct and to protect those who could be harmed by it.  


Each day I get to live out a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that has guided both my personal and professional life: “The time is always right to do what is right.”   


PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?


TR: My mother. She is the queen of just get it done. Her favorite saying is, “Lick your wounds and keep moving.” I love her for this! She was a single mother, and I saw her resilience daily as she worked to move us forward socioeconomically. Many days and nights of work paved the way for me to get a better education than she did and to see places she has never dreamed of. My mother is the grittiest woman I know, and I live every day to make her proud.


PP: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

TR: My first job after undergraduate study was at a large pharmaceutical company. I was hired to be an analytical chemist supporting research and development. I had no idea that it took 15 years for a drug to go from conception to production. Yikes! Immediate disengagement set in.


While attending a company event, I ran into a senior scientist, who was also an alumnus from my university. He asked me how things were going. With glossed-over eyes, I admitted to him that I was very unhappy. He invited me to schedule an appointment to discuss. I went to see him, and he sat with me and helped me draft talking points for communicating with my manager and human resources. This preparation empowered me to effectively communicate my concerns and my continued commitment to adding value to the company. Shortly thereafter, I was offered an opportunity to lead a diversity STEM recruiting initiative in the human resources department. I never returned to a technical role.


I learned several things from this time in my life. First, identify people you can trust and reach out for help when needed. I suffered for over a year in that role and allowed fear to discourage me from engaging others. Now I keep an established circle of mentors and supporters that I can call on for support when making decisions and providing accountability for career goals. In addition, I learned that mentoring is critical to building strong people, professions and organizations. I am currently a mentor and provide coaching to executives. This small commitment has given me monumental returns. Lastly, I learned that when accepting a new role, it is imperative that you thoroughly understand what the job entails prior to accepting. This bit of pre-work can save lots of time and stress in the long run.

Michele McNicholWhen Michele McNichol stepped away from Wood Group, she called it “retirement.”


She was considering a departure from the industry, but she knew full well she wasn’t retiring from an active career in some respect.


I knew I wasn’t done, but it was time to step back and reassess what I wanted to do,” Michele explains.


Michele had been at Wood Group, an engineering services firm serving the energy industry, for 16 years. She’d risen from project manager to CEO of the Western hemisphere. But in 2017, Michele decided it was time for a transition. She explored some board opportunities and a teaching gig, but she wasn’t sure that would be enough to satisfy her drive and her vision.


Then, a friend introduced her to some contacts from a private equity firm, and the conversation drifted to the kind of business Michele wanted to see in the industry — and how she would build it.


“It was on that day when I realized, ‘This is my purpose. This is what I’m supposed to do,’” she recalls. “It was very exciting to think about what was possible.”


Michele values people and relationships — and believes strong, profitable businesses are built on both.


That became the foundation of Arion, the engineering, procurement and construction management firm she has built with a focus on people — both customers and employees — first. 


As Michele describes it, Arion is built around three core pillars: First, relationships are everything. The second is execution certainty, meaning the end product is a completed project delivered as promised. Nothing less will do. And third, technology and innovation are the most important tools in the Arion arsenal; they need to be used, liberally.


“The big companies have all their work processes in place, and the energy and commitment it would take to overhaul that and completely rethink it — they just don’t have the fortitude to get through it,” Michele says. “We get a clean slate. We get to set up our work practices and figure out how to use technology most effectively.”  


Arion teamAfter that fateful conversation that gave birth to the dream, Michele joined with a few other colleagues and put together a business plan. They met with a number of private equity groups, initially thinking that taking on outside funding was the best way to take a good idea and strong leadership team to market quickly.


However, as time passed and interest among the core team and some close friends and colleagues grew, they realized they had what they needed to launch the company. 


“We started our business with all private funding,” Michele says. “So we get to call all the shots.


It’s a welcome shift after a long, successful, but decidedly corporate career.


When Michele graduated from Texas A&M University in 1986 with a degree in chemical engineering, she got a job at Amoco — right about the time oil prices crashed. So when the company asked if she would move to Wyoming, to a town of 8,000, her response was a resounding yes.


She was one of only six college graduates Amoco hired that year. She would have gone pretty much anywhere to have a job.


Michele spent a few years with Amoco before moving on to ABB Randall and then Mustang Engineering, a Wood Group company, which sent her out to what was at the time the world’s largest offshore platform, BP’s Thunder Horse project, to work as a process engineer. It was her first time offshore in her career.


“It was not a hard transition. It’s not as hard as people would think,” she recalls. “It was about leadership, about leading people, about managing schedules and budgets and quality and making sure that when change happens, you’re working that change through the system.”


Now, at Arion, she’s building a people-focused culture that addresses the core elements of every project — balancing quality, schedule and budget — with all the technology and innovation that can be harnessed, from the ground up.


“We’re working as hard as we’ve ever worked, but we’re having fun because it’s for us. We’re in this together. We’ve built a different kind of team camaraderie than we’ve ever had,” she says.


Michele has learned a lot over the past six months as Arion has taken shape. Part of it is navigating the integration of technology and processes to create maximum quality and efficiency. Another part is getting educated on elements she’s always had a team of people to handle  — HR, legal, etc.


It’s the life of an entrepreneur, which is still an adjustment in a lot of ways. But Michele is already addicted to the possibilities.


“My sense is that we are a snowball at the top of the hill, and once it starts going, I think it’s just going to go unbelievably fast. We’re just going to have to hold on,” she says. “Our premise is good. We have clients who are excited about the new choice we’re giving them. I call it ‘the perfect storm,’ in a good way. And we’re ready to roll.” 


Halliburton, a valued Pink Petro community sponsor and corporate member, is publishing a series of videos across social media as part of a campaign to highlight the impressive women in it's ranks. 


This week, we meet Amy LeBlanc, a technical professional at Halliburton. "Don't let anyone tell you you can't do something," she says. "There's no right or wrong path, and just because you veer off the traditional path doesn't mean you can't come back." 



For more on how you can join Halliburton, search available jobs at Experience Energy!