Jennifer Lester

Lean In Energy leverages digital to scale mentoring for women in energy

Blog Post created by Jennifer Lester Advocate on Aug 20, 2018

Last December, we announced big plans ahead for Lean In Energy.


Since then, a small army of volunteers have been putting together something very special. It’s a group comprised of engineers, senior VPs, geologists, women and men from all different backgrounds with a passion for mentorship and a desire to be a part of something bigger.  And the energy value chain is huge -- from oil and gas to renewables, and its vast supply and services chain, women in energy, transport and infrastructure power our world.  


Like Erika Tolar, an executive with FedEx Services and Lean In Energy’s director of mentoring, who views Lean In Energy as a vehicle to build a highly talented cross-functional group of women mentors and leaders that will help everyone involved reach their goals. 


“Mentors are connectors,” Erika said. “They connect you with others who can help take you to another level in your career or personal life.”


That’s the ultimate mission of the organization: to empower women in energy to achieve their ambitions global scale. Soon, Lean In Energy will deploy new technology to facilitate that mission. 


“Lean In Energy will soon have the ability to connect women across the world in real time. You can meet with a mentor locally or virtually to discuss an issue or a particular topic.  The technology will enable mentorship matching enabling the community to scale," Erika explains.


Working alongside her is Alyssa Volk, the global mentoring chair for Lean In Energy. In addition to her role as an oilfield services commercial manager at Baker Hughes. a GE Company, Alyssa is helping Erika bring the technology aspect of mentoring to life at Lean In Energy.


“Sharing information and experiences worldwide from a variety of perspectives is at the heart of mentoring,” she said. “New technology will expand the boundaries of the mentor/mentee relationship, producing a global organization operating in real time," said Alyssa.


Alyssa believes that this will give mentees the ability to seek knowledge and guidance from mentors in a quick and targeted way and take mentoring to the next level.


Earlier this year, Lean In Energy applied to become a 5013c non-profit. And, as an affiliate of LeanIn.Org, the global mentorship organization co-founded by Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In Energy’s goals are closely aligned with the principles of Lean In — which is all about empowering women.


Mentoring circles help women connect, take the lead in their professional and personal lives and counteract gender bias.


But tackling issues such as gender bias shouldn’t be entirely on the shoulders of women. It is important for men to be involved, as well.


One of the male board members at Lean In Energy is Paul McIntyre. He has witnessed firsthand the powerful impact that mixed-gender mentoring relationships can have.


Paul is the global head of Human Resources at Worley Parsons, which implemented mentorship and sponsorship programs designed to continuously develop talented women in the organization while proactively advocating for them as candidates for roles in the organization. Both women and men are involved in the process.


“The more that we develop a perspective of diversity and inclusion for all, regardless of gender, the more we develop awareness amongst men about how women might think of things around the workplace and why,” Paul said. “And this sets men up to be really strong allies.”


It also brings to light a new perspective for women. Paul has seen many occasions where females are more hesitant to apply for a new position in the workplace because they feel they’re not qualified, whereas men move forward and apply whether they have all the skills or not.


However, he has found that women, whose mentors encourage them to apply and proactively advocate for their candidacies, often end up landing these roles despite their initial hesitations.


Mentorship and sponsorship are critical elements to success and growth, and Lean In Energy is on a mission to help women connect through both. With new technology, fresh ideas and an inclusive group of diverse people (women and men) working to make it happen, we are creating a community of support that is accessible to you at any stage in your career.  


"When the door knocks and nearly 1,500 women are raising their hands to mentor or be mentored, the only way to respond to that very good problem is with technology.  After all, Sheryl (Sandberg) says if you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on.  Big thanks to Alyssa, Erika, Paul and the entire team for making this happen," said Katie Mehnert Founder of Lean In Energy and CEO of Pink Petro.


Stay tuned for a special announcement on how you can apply to be a part of the movement.  Go to to sign up to hear more coming in September and at the 2018 Experience Energy GRIT Awards.