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21 Posts authored by: Jennifer Lester Advocate

This week on our series, Profiles in GRIT, we introduce you to Patricia Guillory, the Chief Financial Officer of Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corp.

 

Gulf Copper provides services for the repair, conversion and refurbishment of offshore drilling rigs, construction and support vessels for the oil and gas industry, and provides marine surveying service internationally. It offers a full spectrum of services with diverse capabilities from strategically well-placed facilities along the Gulf of Mexico. They also happen to be the newest member of the Pink Petro community. And we couldn’t be more thrilled!

 

Patricia took her position at the age of 29, during a turbulent time with the company.

 

“At my interview the owner explained that he could not promise the company would be able to commit to even my job being around in the next six months,” she recalls.

 

She made it through — with no small amount of persistence and faith. Here’s her story.

 

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

 

PG: The biggest challenge I have faced was taking control of Gulf Copper at the young age of 29. It was at a point in the company’s history when the financial and administration arms faced many challenges.

 

At my interview, the owner explained that he could not promise the company would be able to commit to even my job being around in the next six months. Employees were anxious at best, and many had low morale. The question for me was where to start on the impressive list of challenges — especially having been the first controller of this 40-plus-year-old organization hired after the bleeding had gone on for some time.

 

I overcame it with lots of prayers and leaning heavily on my faith. It was through prayer that I developed relationships with those in operations and administration. I also developed relationships with external resources and mentors. I overcame the anxiety of the job, asked many questions, answered many questions and worked excessive hours engaging others, attending meetings and making commitments.

 

In the end, we overcame these terrific trials and built our way back.

 

Pink Petro: What’s one mistake you made and how did you learn from it?

 

PG: The one mistake I’ve made on numerous occasions is departing from my center and my faith to make decisions that do not fully consider the impact on others. An example of this is when I moved all the accounting staff from an operations site to the administration offices where I was located. It seemed practical, except it had not been too long since the assets were acquired. I failed to appreciate the full extent of everyone’s anxiety. 

 

What became clear later is that having the groups in close proximity was helpful to merge the distinct company operating cultures within the two groups. A few years ago, we merged the locations and the two groups. Within a few months, nearly all of us agreed that the camaraderie and productivity levels were elevated. Over the years my faith in God has helped me realize that when I fall, I can get back up.

 

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

 

PG: The most rewarding part has been the mentorships developed (and still developing) with my team. Being able to share the experience with someone learning things they never believed they could master is rewarding.

 

Pink Petro: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you?

 

PG: My “gritty” role model is a business-savvy Harvard-educated gentleman who served on our audit committee for many years. He has seen us through some of our most turbulent times and has provided wisdom, knowledge and strength. And he is always pushing me to take hold of the next challenge without waiver. He has provided constructive critiques at the most important times and always wants the very best for me. I truly appreciate his contributions to my life and the growth in my career.

This week on Profiles in GRIT, we are featuring Lindsay Sander, one of the winners from the 2018 GRIT Awards on October 3rd. Lindsay is the Principal of Sander Resources, L.L.C. in Austin, TX.

 

Sander Resources is a consulting firm that helps its clients address developments in state and federal policies that impact their businesses, and implement programs to comply with them. Sander Resources uses innovation and information to influence policy, drive business, manage risk, and ensure compliance.

 

Lindsay is originally from Edina, Minnesota. Moving to Texas and entering this industry has had its share of challenges for her, but she’s loving every minute of it. Here’s more of Lindsay’s story:

 

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

 

LS: Being underestimated, and there is nothing that I enjoy more. This occurs on a regular basis and has been the greatest challenge. It has likely benefitted me more than whatever specific challenge was facing our client or team. It has provided me with opportunities to demonstrate dedication, determination, hard work, problem-solving, and resolve. And it has resulted in great partnerships, wonderful friends, and a network of people who want to make a difference in moving issues and our industry forward. I truly hope people continue to underestimate me as it will only drive me to accomplish even greater things in the future.

 

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

 

LS: We took on a client with a CEO who had an oversized ego for the purpose of accomplishing a VERY difficult assignment. Despite successfully delivering what the client requested (a miraculous accomplishment with potentially fantastic outcomes), the CEO was uncooperative, unappreciative, and, ultimately, disrespectful to our team. The company is my life and the people who work for me are family. I will never tolerate poor treatment of either. It was a good, but hard lesson to learn: I realized that we are not looking to work with just "any" client; we are looking to partner with clients with whom we can do our best work.

 

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

 

LS: When clients are appreciative of the hard work and efforts of our team to accomplish their goals and make a difference.

 

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

 

LS:  I have been incredibly blessed to have a number of incredible people guide and mentor me. One of those is Alice Ratcliffe. She is a client who became a close friend. Alice pushes me to be a better person, take the higher road, and helps me navigate through some of the stickier issues - personally and professionally. Alice puts everything she has into what she does, loves her family, helps others and does it all with a smile on her face regardless of what has just happened in her world.

This week on Profiles in GRIT, we meet Dionne Auguste. Dionne is the operations manager for NES Global Talent in Perth, Australia. NES is a workforce provider that provides staffing solutions across the Oil & Gas, Power, Infrastructure, Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Mining sectors globally. NES offers a diverse workforce and technical recruitment across major projects around the world. 

 

Dionne moved to Australia 6 years ago, she did not know anyone and moved without her friends and family, but through perseverance and grit, she overcame the challenges to build a successful career and a personal brand.

 

She focused her efforts on networking and became involved in programs like a local lean in circle, Women in Oil and Gas Australia where she is a mentor. Today, she runs the lean in circles for her region and mentors other women and young professionals.

 

It was a pleasure to honor Dionne at our 2nd annual GRIT Awards in October. And we’re excited to share more of her story with you.

 

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

DA: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced both personally and professionally was moving from the UK to Australia. Not only was it a challenging personal transition, but I also had to learn the WA market, major projects and the technical aspects required for working in resources.

 

When I made this move, I was about to turn 30. I was broke and trying to make a new life for myself away from my family and friends. The self-doubt I had during this time period was like nothing I had experienced before. I wanted to run away and go back home to my comfort zone. Fortunately, the thought of failing gave me the drive I needed to kickstart a new life and career.

 

I knew I had to learn the market quickly so I began networking with professionals in the industry. I asked candidates and clients for their feedback and I looked after those who believed in me. In return, I was able to build a reputable personal brand in a competitive market.

 

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

DA: One of the biggest mistakes I made was underestimating how hard the move would be. I moved without much planning. It was very stressful, but I did it. I believed in myself and I worked hard to achieve success. I also had support from sponsors and mentors who I still seek advice from today.

 

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

DA: I love being a people manager and enjoy seeing success in others. One project that sticks out in my mind is the indigenous drive we did for a large LNG operator in Darwin. Their indigenous workforce was 0 and they wanted us to assist them in employing some indigenous candidates in their business. Darwin is a very remote location and it is difficult to source local candidates. However, we were able to provide a shortlist of 22 candidates of which 16 were from an indigenous background. The client put 12 of our candidates through their assessment day and employed 6, of which 3 were indigenous and 1 was female. This was an incredibly rewarding opportunity for me and NES Global Talent.

 

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

DA: Oprah Winfrey is one of my all-time role models. I come from a diverse background myself. My father was born in the Caribbean and my mother is from Scotland. So I can relate to some of the challenges Oprah has faced throughout her career. The strength which Oprah has shown to the world is phenomenal. She has touched the hearts of thousands of people and has not been afraid to bare her soul, emotions and imperfections. It has been inspiring to follow her career and what she has achieved.

 

Pink Petro: Which community service activities/organizations have you been associated with and in what capacity?

 

  • DA:  Women in Oil and Gas Australia - This is a lean in circle lead by Veena Mendaz who is a category manager for Chevron. I have been part of the membership since Veena founded the organization 5 years ago and I am now honored to be part of their mentoring program. I am currently mentoring a female project controls engineer.
  • Wirrapanda Foundation - This foundation is an indigenous non-profit organization. We work with the foundation to assist them in placing suitable candidates within the resources industry who have gone through their mentor program.
  • SCLAA - I have had a relationship with this organization for about 5 year. We regularly reach out to them when we are seeking young professionals within the supply chain industry who have completed their degrees and looking for their first full-time position in mining and oil and gas.
  • Leadership - I am the internal diversity rep for APAC at NES Global Talent and run our lean in circles across the region.
  • Pat Thomas Women’s Refuge - I regularly donate clothes, cosmetics and other items to this women’s refuge.
  • Women in Mining - I am currently a member of this organization and am in conversations with them to present at their sundowner later in the year.
  • Brightwater- I am a volunteer as part of their “Music Pharmacy Program” the program works with Dementia patients to engage them in music programs such as personal playlists, group sessions and harp playing.  

Companies in the energy industry are paying attention to inclusion and diversity. But beyond awareness, what are they doing about it?

 

Recent studies like the Energy and Diversity Inclusion Index and the Women in the Workplace 2018 asked employees pointed questions on these issues.

 

So how do women in the workplace, and in energy, feel about their experiences? Since companies are acknowledging the need for inclusion and diversity, have things changed?

 

Over 64,000 employees in the U.S. completed the Women in the Workplace survey. And more than 450 people in the energy industry responded to the EDII survey.

 

Let’s take a look at what the data from these reports reveal.

 

Diversity Should be Treated as a Business Priority

 

According to the Women in the Workplace study, companies are experts at setting goals and tracking data to achieve them, in most cases. However, only 38% of companies set targets for gender diversity, and only 42% hold senior management accountable for making progress in this area.

 

20% of employees believe that their company’s commitment to gender diversity is lip service.

 

One female vice president and member of her company promotion team noted that “when women are given more scope and responsibility, then they deliver success, it takes 6 months to a year for them to be recognized. Whereas when men get a new responsibility, I’ve seen them immediately get promoted or get recognized without creating any deliverable.”

 

According to the EDII report, nearly 70% of the people polled in the energy industry believed that they belonged at their companies, yet only 31.13% either agreed/strongly agreed that promotion decisions were handled fairly.

 

37.18% of energy employees felt that gender diversity was NOT a priority to senior management.

 

Company Culture Needs to Change

 

Employees participating in these surveys believe that women still face various forms of discrimination and many have experienced it. In fact:

 

  • 64% of women experienced microaggressions.
  • 55% of women in senior leadership were sexually harassed.
  • 45% of women in technical fields were sexually harassed.
  • 48% of lesbian women were sexually harassed.
  • 71% of lesbian women were subject to microaggressions.

 

Only 32% of women believe that their company quickly addresses disrespect towards women.

 

In the EDII report, while 77.41% of employees agreed/strongly agreed that they were respected and valued by fellow employees, only 69.54% felt that management valued and respected them.

 

As our friends at Gapingvoid Culture Design Group say “inclusive is the new exclusive”.  But it starts at the top, and clearly, more work must be done. 

 

The EDII report shows that 81.03% of energy employees place a high priority on diversity.

 

Data from the Women in the Workplace report shows that even though more women earn bachelor’s degrees than men, they are still:

 

  • Less likely to be hired into entry-level jobs.
  • Less likely to be hired into management positions.
  • And far less likely to be promoted into management roles.

 

Right now, men in the workplace hold 62% of all management positions. Women hold 38% of them.

 

It’s Time to Fix the Only Factor

 

Often, when women do land the job or get the promotion, they discover that they are the only woman in the room. According to Women in the Workplace, one in five women are Onlys.

 

40% of women in senior level or technical roles said they are an Only. About 7% of men reported this.

 

Being an Only doesn’t just affect women at work. It happens to people of different backgrounds and ethnicities too. As one mid-level administrator put it: 

 

“I feel like I have to represent the entire race. I need to come across as more than proficient, more than competent, more than capable. I have to be ‘on’ all the time. Because in the back of someone’s mind, they could be judging the entire race based on me. And I don’t want anybody else’s opportunity to be ruined because I messed it up. I know that seems really heavy, but that is often how I feel. I am pretty sure that when most white people make a mistake, they don’t feel like they’re representing all Italians or all Irish. But a lot of Black Americans do feel like that.”

 

Let’s Move the Needle in the Right Direction

 

Lip service doesn’t hold much weight and people see through it. Hiring a diverse workforce is a start, but it’s not enough. What is your company doing to ensure that all employees have a sense of belonging?

 

The data is here. Two different reports, two very similar sentiments among women in the workplace.  

 

It’s time to go beyond acknowledging the data and use it to drive real change in the energy industry and beyond. 

 

Let’s start addressing these issues like the business priority that they are.

Today, more companies are talking about the importance of inclusion.

But how many of them really walk the walk?

Pink Petro’s newest global member, Wood Mackenzie, does. And we are delighted to have them on board.

Woodmac, a Verisk company, is a research and consultancy business for the global energy, metals and mining, and chemicals industries. Woodmac joined Pink Petro in August after the company’s director of global public relations, Anthea Pitt lobbied for the company to do so.

 

According to Anthea, "It's not just about ensuring that the gender balance is equal, it's about changing the culture. You're not looking at gender, you're looking at skills. And everybody benefits from that shift in culture."

She first learned about Pink Petro earlier this year when Amy Bowe, the director of upstream consulting at Woodmac, won a GRIT award in March. Prior to Amy’s nomination, neither of them were familiar with Pink Petro.

When Amy returned home from receiving her award in Houston, the two of them looked into Pink Petro further and felt that it was a fantastic organization for Woodmac to be a part of.

What led to this decision?

They loved the career development and mentoring work that Pink Petro does. 

Anthea has worked in the industry as a journalist and communications adviser for the past 18 years and is fascinated by the energy sector. One of her big regrets is that she did not know that a career in geology was an option she could have pursued. “In the place I grew up, and at the time I grew up, women from my background weren’t encouraged to pursue further education, let alone a scientific career,” she says.

She is glad that there are fewer barriers these days for women to pursue careers in the energy industry.

The oil sector has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated industry that isn't particularly friendly towards women.  But, there are women working quietly and effectively in the background (and it can definitely feel like that at times). 

 

In fact, Wood Mackenzie has a team of incredibly knowledgeable, sharp women who are involved in everything from exploration and production to gas and LNG, refining and chemicals and power and renewables, to mining and metals. They are clever, diligent women at the top of their game.

 

Anthea is proud that Woodmac takes inclusion and diversity seriously. In fact, of the 1,382 employees worldwide, 534 are female.

 

Yes, joining Pink Petro is just one of the ways that Woodmac is “walking the walk.” With strong support from their parent company, Verisk, they’ve also implemented a number of initiatives for women including:

 

  • Imposter syndrome workshops which recognize that all women suffer from imposter syndrome to some degree.
  • Gender working groups that look to ensure that the company is balanced in its workplace, policies, and procedures.
  • Women in senior leadership positions such as HR, marketing, cross-research, and consulting roles within their teams and specialties.

 

Woodmac also emphasizes physical and mental health and well-being as a priority for all of its employees. And they promote gender balance. Within the workplace, at Woodmac there is an active awareness that you need a balance between work and your home life. 

 

Woodmac recognizes women are no longer the exception. And that the company is actively working to be a part of that change in the industry. So, as Anthea and Amy dug deeper into discovering what Pink Petro was all about, membership seemed like a natural fit.

 

Anthea approached senior leadership at Woodmac to say, “this would be good for all the women working at the company, and particularly the younger women to help them ground themselves within the industry.” Woodmac agreed.

 

Through Pink Petro, Woodmac employees can learn from women who have had to fight to get where they are and gain better knowledge and understanding of it.

Experience Energy hosted the 2ndAnnual GRIT Awards on Wednesday, October 3rd live in Houston and  through social media. This year’s benefactor for the event was Lean In Energy, a 5013c non-profit.

The GRIT Awards recognize leaders who step up and get the job done no matter what. They are an inspiration to others. So it’s a natural fit that an organization like Lean In Energy would be its benefactor.

Lean In Energy is on a mission to empower women in energy to move boldly towards their ambitions, even if that means heading into unchartered territory.

Growth, resilience, innovation, and technology, the words that define GRIT, can be seen in each of the three methods that Lean In Energy uses to empower women: mentoring, awareness, and education. 

 

Empowering Women Through Mentorship

 

In the course of the past year, the leadership of Lean In Energy has worked diligently to create new and exciting opportunities for mentorship. These opportunities are innovative, utilizing technology to connect women to others who can help them grow in their personal lives and careers, build resiliency, and inspire others to grow as well. 

 

Lean In Energy connects women with peers who can challenge and encourage them to charge forward in their careers, counteracting any gender bias that they meet along the way. 

 

Pictured above:  Alyssa Volk, Global Programs Chair with Baker Hughes, a GE company speaks about the new program.

 

Lean In Energy has four components:

 

  • Communities are organized by region, function, discipline and unique special interest. These global groups are overseen by a Regional Group Lead based on what part of the world members are in. Within each region, women can join a member-run and led SIC focused on technology, engineering, sales, commercial, supply chain, finance, legal, etc. or a group for unique interests such as power generation, Blockchain, 4Ds, or women in hydraulic fracturing. These communities are for connections, networking and growing outside of mentoring.

  • Small Group Mentoring is a formal, structured mentoring program that runs for a period of six months for one mentor and up to four mentees. These groups are matched using Lean In Energy’s smart-matching algorithms that are based on applicants answers to profile questions.

 

  • Flash Mentoring provides members with one-on-one mentoring in a “flash” (a one-hour session to be exact). It is flexible, there’s no commitment, and it provides members a focused opportunity to gain knowledge across different departments, prep for an interview, build a stronger network, learn job-related skills, develop soft skills, or explore a new career path. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with mentors around the world while on business or personal travel. Flash Mentoring is available to all members, even if they are in a Small Group Mentoring Program.

 

  • The Executive Sponsorship Program:  This is an exciting program coming in 2019 and only open to corporate donors. The primary role of the Sponsor is to open doors for the talent and to introduce opportunities for exposure, to demonstrate to a different or higher-level audience what you can bring to the company. A Sponsor is able to attend those roundtable discussions that can make or break your career. Their authority allows them to speak to your strengths, make cases for your advancement, and be heard in your absence. Where a Mentor may help you envision your next position, a Sponsor will lever open that position for you.

 

Lean In Energy and the Future

 

Lean In Energy will continue to fuel women in energy to their bigger purpose. In addition to their mentoring programs, special interest communities and their executive sponsorship program, the organization regularly participates in public awareness of gender diversity and promotes female leadership in the workplace. And it will continue to grow its library of educational resources to help women build new skills and to educate everyone through research-based recommendations on how to advance gender equality at home and at work.

 

Pictured right above  Paul McIntyre, Board of Directors, Lean In Energy and Global Head of People at Worley Parsons

 

How to Become a Part of the Movement

 

 

Open enrollment for Lean In Energy starts soon.  When you register, you'll be assigned to a Regional Community first. Then you'll have the option to select the Special Interest Communities that you'd like to join. Next, you will receive an invitation to Lean In Energy Small Group and Flash Mentoring Programs. You can sign up for one or both programs.

 

Small group enrollment opens on October 29th for mentors and on November 26th for mentees and it closes on December 24th. The 6-month program will begin on January 28, 2019.

 

Flash Mentoring enrollment also opens on October 29th for mentors and November 26th for mentees. However, this is a year-round program so you can sign up anytime after enrollment opens.

 

Visit LeanInEnergy.Org today and join our mailing list. Once the new platform (web-based and mobile app) goes live on October 29th, individuals can become Lean In Energy Members, join Communities, enroll in one / both of theMentoring Programs.

 

Lean In Energy is an independent organization, affiliated with LeanIn.Org, which works closely with LeanIn.Org to further its mission and is licensed by LeanIn.Org to use the ‘Lean In’ name.

 

To sponsor, contact the organization at www.leaninenergy.org

 

SPONSORS

This year, at the 2018 GRIT Awards on October 3rd, we discussed the need for diversity and inclusion – and we backed it up with real data and “gritty” truth about our industry.

 

Our panel of expert energy and cultural change leaders demystified data about diversity and inclusion from three key studies: The PESA Gender Diversity Study, The NES Global Talent Women in Energy Global Study, and the Experience Energy, Energy Diversity & Inclusion Index™.

 

The Panel Recap

 

Pictured above: Chris VonHaven, Jason Korman, Vicki Codd.

 

Panelists

 

Vicki Codd is the marketing director of NES Global Talent. She has over 20 years of experience in B2B marketing in various sectors including IT, Telco, Financial Services, and Social Housing. Vicki has been with NES since 2015.

Chris VonHaven is the vice president, global projects organization for Exterran Corporation. He has worked in the energy industry for over 25 years and believes diversifying the energy workplace starts with the interview process.

Jason Korman is the CEO of Gapingvoid and it's Culture Design Group. He is a thought leader and innovator with experience adapting change at scale to large organizations.

The panel discussion was moderated by our very own Katie Mehnert, CEO of Pink Petro and Experience Energy.

Both the panelists and audience were given copies of the following data reports to review:

The Women in Energy Global Study ran for a month and focused on generating precise data about the lives of women in the energy sector, their careers, and thoughts on the state of gender diversity in the industry.  Download the data here

 

The PESA gender diversity study covered 35 companies and 250,000 global workers, including 100,000 men and women in the United States. This comprehensive study covered companies small and large. It also analyzed published data on various workforce issues.  Download the data here.

 

The Energy Diversity and Inclusion Index (EDII) looked at ways to best assess employees sense of inclusions, beliefs, and mindsets around the workplace. It included over 60 companies globally in the 

the oil and gas, renewables, and services industries collected by Pink Petro and Experience Energy.   Download the data here.

 

Panelists Vicki and Chris reviewed the most important data from the reports and what it means for the industry. And they also shared areas of opportunity for the future.

 

Jason spoke about the data from a change standpoint.  He shared valuable insights with our audience on how to move these numbers in a different way by looking at the root of these problems and based in beliefs.  "We all take comfort in data for good reason.  Fundamentally if we want to shift our approaches to equality, we need to articulate the beliefs that we want people to embrace," says Jason.

After the panel answered questions, the session was opened up to guests to review the data and discuss it at their table. Those watching the discussion were also invited to participate through a live chat.

Guests were asked why they care about inclusion and diversity, and why it’s important for leaders at their companies to care. 

 

Following the table discussions, we went around the room and heard from our attendees—in person and —about what they plan to do when they return to the office to make a difference.

 

"Diversity matters and everybody wins." 

Pictured right: Angela Knight, Diversity and Inclusion leader at Baker Hughes, a GE company provides her perspective on the panel discussion. 

 

 

We still have our work cut out for us, but having these conversations and taking action is a start.

Skyler ObregonThis week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we introduce you to Skyler Obregon, Regional Compliance Counsel, U.S. and Canada, for Weatherford International, one of the world's largest multinational oilfield service companies, providing innovative solutions, technology and services to the oil and gas industry. Weatherford is also a Pink Petro member company.

 

In addition to her work in compliance, she recently founded Women of Weatherford (a.k.a. WoW) to support the company’s female employees around the world. The network formally launched earlier this year and has already built a membership of more than 200 women.

 

We spoke with Skyler about a variety of experiences she’s had throughout her career and her personal motto: “Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.”

 

We couldn’t agree more.

 

Read below for more from our conversation with Skyler.

 

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

SKYLER OBREGON: The biggest challenge that I have faced in my career as an attorney was negotiating a master service agreement with a Fortune 100 client. As a junior attorney, I was tasked with renegotiating contract terms, and I was petrified. I had only been practicing law for two years, and the opposing counsel was a seasoned attorney with 30 years under his belt.

 

To prepare for these negotiations, I studied prior contracts and meticulously crafted my arguments. I knew the contract backward and forward and formed a negotiation strategy by anticipating what my counterparty might argue. 

 

When facing a tough challenge, there is always an element of uncertainty and fear. I kept a fortune cookie message aptly taped to my laptop, which said, “Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.”

 

I used that message as my motto. The challenge was great, and we reached an agreement. Overall, it was an incredible learning experience, and the opportunity made me face my fears. 

 

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

SO: When I graduated from law school in 2011, the market was saturated with young attorneys at a time when many companies were not hiring. Like most ambitious attorneys, I approached many large Houston-based law firms for an entry-level position, only to be repeatedly rejected.

 

I decided to take an unpaid internship with Federal Judge Melinda Harmon until the right position came along. During that time, I was approached by my father to join his oil and gas practice in Tyler, Texas. Judge Harmon started her career at Exxon and encouraged me, as a woman, to enter the oil and gas field.

 

With limited options and the opportunity to grow a relationship with my father, I decided to accept the job. During the year I worked for my father, I had broad exposure to oil and gas operators and service companies. My father was a solo practitioner who had grand ideas for me (his only child) eventually taking over his 35-year old oil and gas practice. It was a great idea, but only in theory, and after several months of traveling every week between Houston and Tyler and living with my father and stepmother, it became clear that taking over the business was not in the cards.

 

Looking back, instead of staying in Houston and trying to wait out the market, I took the easy way out by working for my father — the path of least resistance. To me, this was a bit of a misstep in my career. 

 

However, what I learned was this: Everything happens for a reason. I started reconnecting with people I met while in law school, one of those being the senior legal counsel for operations at Weatherford. And due to the experience I gained working for my father, I was able to intelligently discuss the oil and gas business and convey my interest and passion for the industry. Had I not had the exposure to oil and gas through my father’s firm, I am not sure that I would have been offered the position at Weatherford and I would certainly not be where I am today.  

 

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

SO: I have had the pleasure of working for Weatherford for more than five years. However, like many industries, I saw a lack of women in the workplace and in leadership positions outside of our corporate office. Many women felt siloed, and there was not a formal support network within the organization.

 

After attending a Women of Energy event, I was inspired and decided that Weatherford needed a women's network to focus on women-driven initiatives and to provide a safe space to learn and communicate. My creation was Women of Weatherford or, more appropriately "WoW." This grassroots movement literally started with me walking into colleagues' offices and asking if they would be interested in establishing such a network. After gaining some traction with others in the office, I drafted bylaws and a WoW mission statement: "To engage, support, empower and inspire women in order to foster professional growth, advancement and leadership within Weatherford."

 

The timing was great as Weatherford was in the process of formalizing an enterprise-wide Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) program. About a year after starting the grassroots network, Weatherford launched a global D&I campaign and used the blueprint I established to launch three additional networks, Young Professionals, LGBTQ and Veterans. Together, we are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their best selves to work.  

 

I am incredibly excited about WoW’s advocacy efforts, which include pushing for a formal maternity and adoption leave policy, nursing rooms in Weatherford facilities, recruitment of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through our internship program and changes to our recruiting process. WoW is proud to have also launched an internal website that provides resources, articles and podcasts centered on career development, self-care and work-life balance for women.  

 

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

SO: I am going to be cliché and say my mother, but for good reason. I am an only child, raised by a single mother. As a child, I had several health issues that unfortunately landed me in the hospital time and time again. My mother worked as a real estate agent. Although she worked long hours and late nights, she never missed a dance recital, ice-skating competition or tucking me into bed. 

 

In the late 1990s, she moved out of real estate and into energy, taking a job at Enron Corporation. In 2001, Enron started to crumble, and by the end of the year, my mother joined thousands of fellow employees who packed up their personal belongings and closed their office doors. To add insult to injury, in 2001, Houston was devastated by Tropical Storm Allison. We sustained two feet of water in our house and lost most of our items on the first floor.

 

My mother was unemployed for the first time in her career, and our house was literally under water. However, she did not miss a beat. She accepted a position at Baker Hughes, provided consulting services to Triad Communication in Washington, D.C., and started writing for the Houston Chronicle. She worked three jobs, sacrificing her personal life, to make sure that we were financially stable. During this time, she worked with the media and other organizations to advocate and ensure her fellow employees at Enron received proper severance packages. She consulted on the movie "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" by providing the producers with contacts to interview. She truly demonstrates all the characteristics of a great and "gritty" role model by being resilient, innovative, resourceful and compassionate.

 

We will be celebrating our next class of GRIT Award winners on Oct. 3. Join us — in person in Houston or for the livestream

 

 

Hurricane Harvey made landfall one year ago.

 

It was a strong storm, but together, we are stronger.

 

In this fireside chat, Sheryl Sandberg, co-founder of LeanIn.org, speaks with Pink Petro Founder/CEO Katie Mehnert about the #HarveyHeroes. Sheryl had the opportunity to meet with many of these heroes who used social media to connect, rescue, and provide relief in the midst of the perilous storm. "That is community resilience - and we know we build it each and every day in ourselves and eash other," she said.

 

Sheryl Sandberg on Hurricane Harvey

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 www.leaninenergy.org to sign up to hear more coming in September and at the 2018 Experience Energy GRIT Awards.

 

 

 

Crystal WashingtonCrystal Washington knew the value of social media for corporate America early on. But when she approached her boss about utilizing it, he said to her, “You’re cute and you make us a s***load of money. Stick to what you know.”

 

She didn’t. And six months later she launched her own digital marketing firm.

 

Despite her former boss’s remark, Crystal followed her instinct and began working with small mom-and-pop companies. She recognized that social media allowed businesses, for the first time in history, to have a brand conversation directly with the consumer.

 

Crystal showed these companies how to utilize social media to promote their businesses. Soon, larger companies began reaching out, and as her business grew, people began asking her to speak at meetings and events.

 

Today, she is a marketing strategist, futurist, author and keynote speaker. She has worked with companies such as Google, GE and British Airways, as well as with businesses in the energy sector, and she will be a keynote speaker at our GRIT Awards celebration on Oct. 3. (Click here to register — you can attend in person or watch live !)

 

Given her broad range of experience, Crystal brings a unique perspective to the industry, and she sees enormous potential in the future of technology and energy.

 

Social media tools create more transparency at companies and can cause them to rightfully rethink women and minorities in the industry. Movements like #MeToo are making people second guess their actions,” she says.

 

The hope is all of that is leading us toward a more inclusive — and productive — culture.

 

And how effective we are in reaching that goal hinges on GRIT (growth, resilience, innovation, and transition), which Crystal likens to a game of Super Mario Bros.

 

“It’s having the vision and the tenacity to carry out the work needed to bring a goal into reality no matter what is thrown your way,” she explains. “Super Mario has a goal. He’s trying to get somewhere, and no matter what happens, he keeps pointing in that direction. That’s grit.”

 

As a futurist, Crystal’s favorite word in the acronym GRIT is innovation. Innovation will impact energy, she says. It already has with companies like Pink Petro, which is pushing women in energy forward.

 

But with innovation comes new challenges. Take for example, artificial intelligence.

 

“AI has been proven to carry bias. Looking at HR functions turning to AI, machine-learning algorithms pick up the bias of the person entering the data. For example, at some companies when AI sees women or female while reading resumes, it automatically loops them in with softer jobs, while it associates men with leadership skills,” she said.

 

While more women in programming will help, the impact won’t be seen for at least another five years.

 

Crystal’s advice to women in the energy industry is to “leverage technology yet be watchful of the potholes to make sure that we are not falling in them.”

 

Another challenge when it comes to innovation is the shift toward transparency as the new normal. Social media plays a huge role in that, and Crystal says energy companies can leverage those platforms to tell their stories and spread their message. It’s all about embracing the possibilities.  

 

And that’s where the real excitement lies for women in energy moving forward. Crystal says now is a key growth period. More corporations are intentionally extending offers to women. At the same time, as with any paradigm shift, there will always be those who fight it. And the energy industry is no exception.

 

“Women do face challenges,” she said. “But I believe that using strategic actions rather than emotions will help women tactically bypass those who resist change.”

 

She’s also a big believer in the power of saying “no.”

 

“Women are socialized to say yes because we are nice. We are afraid to say no,” she explains

 

But saying “no” helps to draw boundaries, and it keeps you from becoming sidetracked. And if we’re going to move forward, we’ve got to stay focused on the path ahead.

Sylvia GarciaThis week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we are chatting with Sylvia Garcia, the business development and consultant services manager for Oilfield Production Consultants (OPC), a global technical services consultancy company specializing in upstream exploration and production.

 

In addition to her role at OPC, Sylvia is in her second year as president of the Society of Professional Women in Petroleum (SPWP).  She is also currently serving on the board of directors for Scout’s Honor Rescue.

 

We honored Sylvia this past March at the first-ever GRIT awards for her strength and courage in the face of some really difficult challenges. Now we’re sharing more of her story with you.

 

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

 

SYLVIA GARCIA: In 2016, I lost my husband, Randy, to a rare and aggressive cancer. He was only 45. Randy was my soul mate. And while I knew the loss would impact me personally, I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect my professional and community service roles.

 

Tasks that used to be routine, like work activities and technical presentations, were now challenging. I didn't want to interact with people. Staying focused was even difficult.

 

For example, when I had to run my first meeting after becoming the president of SPWP, I felt apprehensive about it. Randy was my support, my sounding board, and my cheerleader. He would have said, “You got this!” if he were here. So I had to find that voice inside of me that would give me that confidence. I also learned to reach out and accept the support of the empowering women in SPWP.

 

I’d love to say that I have completely conquered this challenge, but I don’t believe that has happened yet. However, Randy left me with his amazing love and memories. With these things — as well as grit, faith, supportive colleagues, family and friends, I will overcome this difficult challenge. Facing life/death challenges really changes your perspective on everything. I hope people can learn to cherish those closest to them and don’t sweat the small stuff. My answer to this question would have been very different prior to 2016.

 

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

 

SG: In my senior year of high school, I began a long term career with the Houston Business Journal. When I decided to change careers, I was not very good at negotiating my salary since I hadn’t job searched before. In fact, my first position after leaving the Houston Business Journal paid less than what I had been making. I told myself that was OK since I didn’t have “experience” in recruitment.

 

What I came to realize is that I did have the skills and talent to be successful at it – more successful than those that did have the “direct experience.” There was a big lesson here to not underestimate the value I bring to the table. So the lesson I learned is, don’t be afraid to ask for the salary that you are worth. This has been a great lesson going forward in my career.

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

 

SG: I’ve spent many years in management. The most rewarding part has been helping women and men find and develop their strengths for success. I care about the people I work with and lead by example. I’m not afraid of being in the trenches or finding creative solutions. I find it rewarding to help others create comfortable and fulfilling careers for themselves that benefit and enhance their lives and their families.

 

When people that I have managed say things like “I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for you,” or “You saw something in me no one else did,” it is extremely rewarding. I believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact on others, no matter how small we think it may be.

 

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

 

SG: There have been many gritty role models throughout my career and life. However, the “grittiest” would have to be my late husband, Randy. He was an amazing person and the love of my life. But the GRIT part comes from how he conducted himself during the hardest, darkest times.

 

He was diagnosed with a Stage 4 cancer in 2013, and he took it all in stride. In fact, he continued to work despite his four- to five-hour chemo treatments four days a week. He beat cancer in early 2015 and was closely monitored. In 2016, spots were found on his liver at a follow-up ultrasound. After extensive and repeated testing, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer that had already metastasized from his colon to his liver.

 

When the oncologist went over the biopsy results with us, he said this was as bad as cancer gets. The prognosis was grim. Randy showed his grit by saying, “OK, guess we have our work cut out. What do we do next?” He responded well to a chemo regimen and survived for another year whereas most people only make it three months at most.

 

Not only did he stay alive longer than expected, we traveled to Belize, Islamorada, Crested Butte and other places to fly fish. We caught tarpon, bonefish, rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat and more. His oncologist, medical team, co-workers, family and friends could not believe his passion for life and positive, can-do attitude. Randy was the epitome of GRIT.

Geeta ThakorlalWhen we first approached Geeta Thakorlal about speaking at the Experience Energy GRIT Awards in October, she was instantly drawn to the concept. After all, she’s always believed it takes grit and resilience to be successful in business and in life.

 

Then we told Geeta that GRIT was an acronym for growth, resilience, innovation and transition.

 

“How clever!” she said. “It encompasses all the elements that one needs for the future of energy and the future of women in industry.”

 

As the president of INTECSEA, a leading offshore engineering consultancy, and managing director of the company's Global Front End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group, as part of the WorleyParsons Group, Geeta has certainly demonstrated GRIT throughout her career.

 

Working on the world’s deadliest offshore rig accident

Geeta’s introduction to the offshore sector came in 1988 after the Piper Alpha accident in the North Sea, which unfortunately took the lives of 167 people. Geeta was part of a UK team that provided expert advice on the incident.

Geeta found that she had a great interest in this area and continued to work in offshore upstream. After her experience in the UK, she was offered a position closer to home in Australia with Worley Parsons. She worked with the company for three years and then spent the next 15 years working in front-end consulting and engineering for another firm.

 

During this time, she gained a wide range of experience and was promoted from department manager to operations manager and then regional director. As she progressed in her career, Geeta gained a wealth of understanding about global hydrocarbons markets, strategy development and implementation, client relationship management, operations management and leading culturally diverse teams.  

 

In 2011, Geeta returned to WorleyParsons to lead specialist technical consulting teams in Australia and Southeast Asia. This leadership role expanded, and Geeta was promoted to senior vice president for INTECSEA in New Zealand and Australia. She became the president of INTECSEA in 2016 and now oversees all global operations from her Houston office. She has recently been appointed to lead WorleyParsons Global Front-End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group.

 

Innovation and transition in the energy industry

As a leader in the industry, Geeta is excited about the innovation and transition that she sees across many different fronts.

 

“It’s happening much faster than I expected,” she said. “Especially in the fossil fuel industry where companies are working to find a balance between meeting the changing needs of the world and achieving sustainability.”

 

One new aspect that is appearing in everything we do centers around the impact that digital technology is having on the industry. And while the energy sector may not be advancing as rapidly as other industries, Geeta believes it is important to progress with technology, yet balance this progress and new thinking with experience and knowledge management.

 

“We need to focus on how to adapt to the future and determine what skill sets the industry needs, as well as how the industry handles cultural differences, inclusion and diversity,” she said.

 

Be curious, and be yourself

Geeta’s advice to others in the industry is to always to approach what you do with a sense of curiosity.

 

“Learn to ask questions and stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you will make mistakes. But you can ask for help,” she says.

 

Other aspects include being your authentic self. “Don’t try to be someone else”, she said. “People always have a way of discovering an individual’s true colors.  You want your brand to accelerate you, rather than the lack thereof being a hindrance.”

 

This curiosity and GRIT have gotten Geeta far. Working in an industry with a large opportunity for diversity has not slowed her down. While some companies are more progressive than others, Geeta believes now is a good time for women to be involved, grow and make their mark in the energy industry.

 

Women have come a long way in the industry,” she said. “While it doesn’t always seem like there are that many working in the energy sector, the number of women is increasing gradually.”

 

As a leader in international oil and gas, Geeta has seen more open dialogue and attention to women — not just in the U.S., but also in Europe, India and the Middle East. Social media has allowed people on a global scale to connect, access information and share ideas for progression. And all that has made Geeta excited to be a part of the industry right now — both as a leader and as an individual.

Jerri BabinThis week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we’re introducing you to Jerri Babin, the vice president of reliability and sales operational strategy for National Oilwell Varco (NOV).

 

NOV is the largest global manufacturer of oilfield equipment. It builds, repairs and services equipment for every segment of the upstream supply chain.  Jerri’s division focuses primarily on the land and offshore drilling equipment. 

 

In our conversation, we spoke with Jerri, who was honored with a GRIT Award back in March, about having “the right people on the bus,” setting clear expectations and being willing to challenge the status quo.

 

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

JERRI BABIN: I was sitting in a leadership meeting discussing areas in need of improvement in our division. Four of the five areas were in sales support. At that time, I was in a project management role, but I knew this was the job I wanted. After convincing my new boss (and myself) that I could change “sales prevention” into sales support, I took on the challenge. 

 

My kickoff leadership meeting got off to a rough start. Most of the team was new to NOV and had no idea what I had in mind.  However, we established our goals and set to work immediately. With survey facts in hand, we reworked the organization to fit a dynamically growing environment.  My managers rocked it!

 

A mere 10 months later, we had another leadership meeting. This time NOV’s president was in attendance.  I counted more than 10 compliments to our new team.  We had overcome “sales prevention” and were recognized as the team behind the success of our climbing sales backlog. 

 

Having the right people on the bus — and setting clear expectations — changed the course of our department. Plus, it created awesome career opportunities for each of my leaders.  Not being afraid to challenge status quo enabled our team to succeed.

 

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

JB: I have made many mistakes, but the one that comes to mind is when I took a job even when my “gut” feeling was to pass it up. I wanted to diversify my experiences at NOV. So I accepted a position in another business unit and set about “changing” the inside sales department. 

 

The group consisted of several acquired businesses, grouped together with no common goals or mission. I learned a lot about change management — what worked and didn’t work — and how to adjust. I made hard personnel changes and increased my network within NOV and the industry.

 

I wanted to be a project manager, but it didn’t seem possible at that time. So, I decided to try for the project manager position again after making this change. And it worked. Changing business units was risky, but I do not regret any time spent in that position. I realized that I was good at changing environments and could make a positive impact with hard work and great people. 

 

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

JB: The most rewarding part of my career was creating a startup business in the Middle East.  I entered this role in 1996. I was not sure about being a female change agent in this part of the world.  And the dangerous images of the Gulf War were fresh in my mind. 

 

However, it was a blast! I can honestly say that I believe I am now equipped to meet any challenge. We exceeded all sales expectations right out of the gate, and I made lifelong friends in almost every country. Just getting it done was a journey. 

 

I worked with the local team in Jebel Ali while living in Houston. Every day had something interesting in store for me. My children even got involved in daily conference calls from my car. So, they got a firsthand experience of the international economy. This facility is now the hub of our operations, and I know that I had an influence on its success. 

 

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

JB: I have a friend, Lenore Gordon, who is absolutely my gritty role model. She was the first female I ever met who actually “worked” on a rig. I had always thought I was a pioneer until I met her. She worked right alongside the service techs and engineers to design and repair jacking systems in India, Singapore, Oman and many other countries. She even managed to break her ankle while working on a jack up in Oman.  

 

For our first meeting, she brought an ancient parts manual and wanted me to help her source parts. I have no idea where she found that manual, much less where I was going to find the parts. From that meeting on, we formed a lifelong friendship. And I thank her for paving the way for all females in non-traditional roles in our industry. 

Amy BoweNext in our series, Profiles in GRIT, we would like you to meet Amy Bowe, a director at Wood Mackenzie, Ltd., a research and consultancy business for the energy, chemicals and extractive industries. 

 

Amy, who received a GRIT Awards at our inaugural ceremony back in March, serves on Wood Mackenzie’s consulting team, working with clients to deliver bespoke solutions to their strategic challenges. Over the past two years, Amy has spearheaded an initiative to develop a new offering that will help the oil and gas industry transition to a lower carbon future by providing standardized, forward-looking, asset-level data on carbon risk exposure.

 

One of the most important lessons she’s learned throughout her career is the importance of gathering insight from multiple stakeholders to come to the best solution, no matter what the challenge at hand.  

 

"Collective action is necessary to bring about the required change.  One or a few cannot dictate the solution for all," she says.  

 

Read more from our conversation with Amy below. (Know someone like Amy? Nominate them for a GRIT Award! Nominations close July 20!)

 

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

AMY BOWE: Like many women with whom I've spoken to, I struggle with self-confidence. There are days when I feel like I could conquer the world and other days where I question why anyone would listen to me. These self-doubts are strongest when faced with new challenges.  I often feel inadequate to the task and can't imagine how I will ever achieve what is expected of me — even in cases when I have set those expectations myself.  

 

Yet I somehow always manage to achieve what initially seemed unachievable.  Cumulatively, these experiences have helped to grow my confidence.  Now, each time that doubt creeps in or I feel inadequate to take on a task, I think back on these previous experiences and tell myself that, just as I overcame those doubts to accomplish my goal, I will do the same this time.

 

I also remind myself, what is the worst that could happen even if I do fail? One day I very well might. Quite often our fears are greater than the actual consequences. Both these tactics have helped build my self-confidence. Still, overcoming my insecurities is an ongoing challenge that requires constant reinforcement and diligence.  Maybe one day I will overcome them for good! 

 

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

AB: I have made many mistakes over the course of my career.  Some have been more instructive than others. One mistake I made was on one of the first large consulting projects I ever managed. Wanting to prove my competence to the project director and earn his trust, I took on responsibility that would normally fall to him—including key decisions regarding analytical methodology, scope execution and presentation of results.  

 

He was traveling quite a bit at the time, which made it easier for me to take the lead in his absence.  I tried to keep him in the loop regarding these decisions through emails and team communications, but I never specifically sought his input or guidance. The result was that, when I sent him the final presentation for review, he had very different ideas about the approach the team should have taken and what we were presenting. 

 

We ended up reworking the final analysis together, as a team. The result was a better product.  However, if I had made a concerted effort to seek his input earlier in the process, we could have avoided the stress of reworking the material at the last minute.  

 

If I'd involved him in the decision-making from the beginning, it's possible we might have taken a fundamentally different approach altogether.  Alternatively, it's possible that he might have felt more comfortable with the approach the rest of the team and I devised if he'd been part of the discussion. 

 

I have therefore learned that, even if I could do something all myself, it's important to seek input from all stakeholders — particularly senior stakeholders, but also peers and junior members of the team — to ensure that everyone is bought into the process and that the ultimate product or decision is as strong as possible.

 

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

AB: The past two years’ effort to develop and promote the upstream oil and gas carbon benchmarking study was rewarding. Also, my time in industry working to develop Hess’ corporate climate change strategy (which served as the inspiration for the carbon benchmarking study) has also been an extremely rewarding part of my career.  

 

In both cases, I was doing work that I felt passionate about and that could proactively help the company, if not the wider industry, move forward and address future challenges. 

 

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

AB: Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She is largely credited with laying the foundation for the global climate change agreement that was reached in Paris in 2015. 

 

She stepped into the role in 2010, after a highly anticipated attempt to reach a global climate agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen ended in disappointment. Over the next six years, Figueres worked to re-establish trust and collaboration among UNFCCC member states, while building needed financial support within the private sector. One of the primary reasons for her success was that she abandoned previous top-down solutions for a bottom-up approach. 

 

Though she provided the leadership necessary to build support for this approach, inherent in the strategy is the recognition that collective action is necessary to bring about the required change. One or a few cannot dictate the solution for all. I have tried to remember these lessons in my own efforts to bring transparency to oil and gas sector emissions risk.