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111 Posts authored by: Mary Johnson

This past summer, a handful of Shell stations in Amsterdam got a bit of a makeover.


 Building on Shell’s signature yellow and red, crucial components of their brand’s identity, four stations were adorned with rainbows — across their facades, their pumps and on the coffee cups.  


Coinciding with Amsterdam’s annual Pride Week, the rainbow-colored campaign was an act of solidarity meant to convey Shell’s deeply rooted commitment to diversity and inclusion. And it came with a statement:



Welkom bij Shell. Iedereen.


Welcome to Shell. Everyone.


Shell has a long history of supporting LGBT workplace inclusion and has had networks in place for 20 years. And they have flown the rainbow flag and taken part in Pride events for many years to show their commitment to  LGBT inclusion. This matters as one of the company’s core values is respect and they believe this is the right thing to do. Shell also knows that employees who are closeted or who feel that they can’t be themselves at work are less productive. Recently, the company has taken a more creative approach, says Graham Sparks, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Shell.


 Pictured above: Graham Sparks, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Shell


He likes to call it “painting the assets.”


"To be successful in this transition, you're going to have to have the best people with the best minds," Graham says. "It brings me back to the core of the D&I business case: the best people, best ideas and best collaboration. That's what excites me. I'd almost see a place where you don't have to talk about D&I anymore because it's so much a part of what you need to be successful and for growth in our industry."


The industry isn't quite there yet, but Graham says he has reached a point where he spends much less time talking about the business case for diversity and inclusion and much more time talking about values, the right thing to do and respect for people. 


Shell made a bold move when the company wrapped a storage tank in its refinery in Rotterdam in rainbow colors, and their efforts continued when Shell painted a rainbow flag on the side of a commercial fuels delivery tanker in the Philippines.


And continued to the most public-facing part of its business — gas stations — and gave them the full rainbow treatment.


“The idea is you go beyond something that is purely symbolic and, for a period of four weeks, ensure we have a conversation about it,” Graham explains.


 The reaction was very positive: The campaign generated some 800,000 views across social media, and the sentiment ratings were 79 percent positive — a huge win in a campaign around an often-polarizing social issue.


There were, of course, some negative reactions. The one Graham heard most often was, What does someone’s private life have to do with Shell?


“We aren’t talking about someone’s private life. We’re talking about our behaviors and how we show respect for our customers and staff,” Graham explains. “You have to bring it back to that storyline, and that’s the best way you can make progress where you see resistance.”


 That kind of response is honed over years of building a strong diversity and inclusion focus within a large company in a traditionally conservative industry. Graham has been in his role for five years, but, as he is quick to point out, diversity and inclusion has been a core part of Shell for more than 100 years. As proof, he points to an old Shell advertisement that turned up recently in a museum in the UK. The poster, which dates to 1908, was created to show Shell’s support for the suffragette movement — complete with the headline “Votes for Women! Votes Shell”.


“Here we are, 110 years later, having this conversation. The point is, you had better be in this for the long haul,” Graham says.


When you do, you make an impact and you underpin your values— both on specific issues and on the industry as a whole.


When it comes to gender, modern-day Shell now has a 50/50 balance on graduate intake — meaning it is bringing in equal numbers of men and women fresh from college. Six years ago, only a third of the new graduates joining Shell were women.


In that same time period, the senior leadership of Shell has climbed from 16 percent female to 23 percent.


In turn, more inclusive leadership breeds stronger employee engagement and, importantly, stronger safety performance.


“And when you start talking about safety in our world, you suddenly get people’s attention,” Graham says.


But inclusion matters to more than just safety. It’s critical to the energy transition as a whole. When diverse leadership is supported by inclusive behaviors company-wide, you create an innovative, nimble company capable of navigating the complexities of the energy transition.


The leadership doesn’t need to be convinced on the value of D&I. Shell gets it — as evidenced by this quote from Shell CEO Ben van Beurden on the Shell website:


“Inclusion and inclusive behaviours are at the heart of effective collaboration — be it with team members, colleagues in other parts of our company, partners in our joint ventures or, most importantly, with our customers. It is therefore vitally important that we do not view diversity and inclusion as a ‘nice to do’ or an ‘add on’ to business as usual. It must be at the heart of our business plans in the same way as safety.”


And the rainbows were just the beginning.



“I think all of this starts to very much define who you are, what your brand is and what you stand for wherever you operate in the world,” Graham says. “Sometimes that means we need to have more difficult discussions, and use this as underpin of our values and broader role in society.”


Shell’s bold inclusive positioning doesn’t just create an environment where employees feel free to be themselves; it paves a pathway for others in the industry to step bravely into diversity and inclusion.

This week in our series Profiles in GRIT, we introduce you to Nooshin Yazhari, the president and CEO of Optimum Consultancy Services.


Nooshin, who was honored with a GRIT Award at our ceremony back in March, has an incredible story: She’s an immigrant entrepreneur who has made the impossible possible!


Being a young woman with no capital and no connections in a traditional business environment resulted in lots of rejections and no’s initially. However, I felt I only had one option and that was to push forward,” Nooshin recalls.


Nooshin founded her technology startup, Optimum, to provide innovative and practical technology solutions to the local and national communities.  Even though the Houston’s Oil & Gas market and overall economy was hurting during the initial years of the company, Optimum still managed to grow stronger and larger every year, meeting and exceeding its revenue and annual goals.


Now, she employs a team of talented professionals and counts several Fortune 500 companies and government agencies among her list of clients. Her experiences have given her valuable perspective and shaped her approach to work and life, and we are thrilled to share her story with you.


Read on for more about Nooshin.


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


NOOSHIN: Being an immigrant woman, who didn’t speak much English initially, imposed a lot of challenges in my professional life when I first landed in the U.S. Although I had a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from a top technology university in middle east and had successfully founded and sold an IT company back in Turkey, the first job I landed in the U.S. was a cashier at Walmart.


That was when I quickly realized that most people vastly underestimate the intellectual potential of people from the poor, working class of the society. They assume a certain IQ and intellectual level with the people below their social rank and treat a cashier just as a lesser person. During my short time working as a cashier, however, I met so many amazing, intellectual men and women who were working hard at jobs below their potential because of difficult life circumstances.


But I didn’t come all the way to the U.S. to be a cashier for the rest of my life. So, I started applying for professional jobs, taking phone interviews from ladies’ restrooms during my lunch breaks. I got many rejections due to not being fluent in English and not having any prior work history in the U.S. Finally, the founder of a small, startup IT company decided to extend me a helping hand. He told me that he didn’t mind my English because he could see my talent with IT and programming. He said that one can always learn a new language in a couple of months, but nobody can teach someone “talent” and “passion”. To this day, I still appreciate what he did for me: the risky decision of hiring a 20-something-year-old girl who didn’t speak the language and putting her on some important projects and in a client facing role. I worked as hard as I could and became a superstar programmer at his company because I couldn’t allow myself to disappoint him!


That job changed my life. After few months of working at that company, I got admitted to graduate school to pursue my master’s in software engineering at SMU, Dallas, and started working full time during the day and went to school at nights. Until I was finally able to make one of my biggest dreams come true: starting and growing an IT company.


Now, it’s my turn to extend a helping hand! I work hard to help other women to have a better life and achieve their career goals through my business and volunteering work.


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


NY: Owning a small business means facing the risk of making mistakes and facing failure almost every day. There are many decisions that must be made quickly, and sometimes, the option to know all the facts and pros/cons just doesn’t exist. It is also difficult to stay calm and not panic when problems arise, and the consequences of failing are too much to deal with.


During my early years as a business owner, I sometimes made decisions out of the fear of failure or losing a business opportunity. Later, I learned that decisions out of desperation or fear never lead to winning at the end. Now, this is one of my favorite quotes: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” - Nelson Mandela


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


NY: Founding and growing my company in the US, which I started with only a few dollars as the starting equity. I still remember the look on the banker’s face when he asked me, passionately, how much money I’d like to deposit into my brand-new business account and I handed him $25.


This was also around the time when Houston’s oil and gas market crashed, and corporations started canceling projects and stopped spending. People looked at me with compassion when I told them that I’m starting a brand-new company in such a depressed market. This was also when I realized the world of business, especially in the energy industry, seem to be male-dominated, and survival in this market depends on many vital factors — especially being connected to an exclusive network of business movers and shakers, which not surprisingly, wasn’t immediately accessible to an immigrant woman like me. All the odds were against me.

I felt I only had one option, and that was to push forward. I stopped thinking about the capital funds that I didn’t have and the people I didn’t know; rather I started meeting new people and making new connections who appreciated my passion and capabilities and weren’t concerned about where I was from. I also started finding creative ways to do business with little money.


After having my share of failures, bruises, and wins, I was finally able to significantly grow the company’s size and revenue and on-board and retain multiple clients, including some Fortune 500 corporations as well as local and state government agencies.


I’m proud of this journey and the fact that Optimum has created jobs for a number of professional women, men, and college students.  


I have a passion for founding businesses that support technology, innovation, and digital transformation to help advance our local and national communities. I believe the world is a better place with more humanity + technology!


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


We’ve been talking a lot lately about celebrating energy’s leaders. Our GRIT Awards, coming up next month, provide an opportunity to recognize those who are challenging, shaping and advancing the industry as a whole.


But a core part of our mission at Pink Petro is also to help our members harness their potential as leaders and powerful decision makers. And we have a great opportunity to do just that through our partnership with Rice University.


Rice University is bringing back its popular on line learning experience, Leadership and Decision Making in the Energy Industry. Classes begin October 2nd, and will continue for 15 weeks. You can access the insights, strategies, and information any time, anywhere, from any device — making it a valuable tool for our global workforce. You're busy building your career. So our partnership with Rice University is designed to make it easier for you to continue your education on your own time and in your own way.

Click here to register and USE THE CODE PETRO18 to get the course for $950.

Taught by Charles D. Mcconnell, the Executive Director of the Energy and Environmental Initiative at Rice University, the course reveals the effective decision making framework in the context of value chains and scenario planning within three major energy markets: oil & gas, petrochemicals, and electric power.


After completing Unit 1: Decision Making in the Energy Industry, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the idea of the global grand energy challenge
  2. Describe the structure of our three major energy markets
  3. Apply the three pillars of decision making to each of these markets
  4. Describe a balanced Decision Making Framework

After completing Unit 2: Value Chains in the Energy Industry, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the concept of value chains
  2. Apply that concept to our three major energy markets

After completing Unit 3: Scenario Analysis in the Energy Industry, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the concept of scenario planning
  2. Describe how scenario planning is applied to each of our three major markets through understanding insights provided in dynamic interviews with energy industry leaders


Sounds pretty good, right?


HOUSTON, TEXAS -- August 23, 2018 — Today, Experience Energy, the global careers site that connects energy companies with diverse talent, announced the finalists for the GRIT Awards, a first-of-its-kind awards program that debuted earlier this year at HERWorld Energy Forum. The winners will be announced as part of a half-day conference at the Norris Center in Houston on Oct. 3 that will be broadcast live  to viewers around the world.


The GRIT Awards, sponsored by NES Global Talent, were created to recognize women leaders in energy, and the men who advocate for their progress. For this class of honorees, more than 150 applications poured in from North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Asia, Russia and the Middle East. On Oct. 3, Experience Energy, a Pink Petro company, will announce the winners, selected during by a panel of industry judges.


The first GRIT Awards ceremony was held earlier this year, during Pink Petro’s annual HERWorld Energy Forum. More than 30 women and men were part of that inaugural class of winners, and the ceremony drew more than 74,000 viewers from around the world.


“Given the success of our first year, we knew there was a need to honor energy’s unsung heroes.  Those people deserve to be honored for all they do, and the impact they’re having on our unsung industry,” said Katie Mehnert, founder of Experience Energy and Pink Petro. “That’s what the GRIT Awards are all about.”


The finalists were nominated for recognition in four different categories: entrepreneurs, individuals, teams and male champions.  Below is a full list of GRIT Award finalists. The winners will be announced live on Oct. 3:  


  • Afton Sterling, Regulatory Manager, SWN
  • Alaina Sajatovic, Product Manager, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Allison Selman, Integrity Management & Decommissioning Manager, Atteris
  • Andrea Reynolds, General Manager, Shell
  • Andrea Wu, Principal Consultant,  RS Energy Group
  • Angela Knight, Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader, Baker Hughes, a GE Company
  • Brenda Donnelly, Vice President - Production Excellence at Shell Deepwater
  • C. Susan Howes, Vice President of Engineering, Subsurface Consultants & Associates, LLC
  • Carlos Pineda, Vice President Completions Solutions for the U.S, Stage Completions Inc.
  • Cassandra Corley, Director, Information Technology MidCon, ConocoPhillips
  • Cherie Fuller, Vice President, Retail Power Market Management, EDF Energy Services
  • Chesley Russo, Manager of LNG Plant Support Services, Bechtel
  • Cindy Pollard, Director of Public Affairs, Aera Energy LLC
  • Deanna Jones, VP Human Resources & Administrative Services, Marathon Oil
  • Dionne Auguste, Operations Manager, NES Global Talent
  • Donatella Banchi, Sr Director Program Manager, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Elizabeth Rogo, CEO/Founder, Tsavo Oilfield Services Ltd
  • Dr. Greg Powers, Vice President of Technology, Halliburton
  • Heather Eason, Founder and CEO, Select Power Systems LLC
  • Hugh Connett, Vice President, Gas Commercialization, Chevron
  • Jaime Butler, Vice President of Permian, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Jan Kulmann, Sr. EHSR Manager, Noble Energy
  • Janette Marx, CEO, Airswift
  • Jessica Hernandez, Lead Manufacturing Specialist, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Joann Christensen, Engineering Technology Manager, Aera Energy LLC
  • Johanna Hoyt, Geologist III, Aera Energy LLC
  • Jorge Haiek, IT Supervisor, Aera Energy LLC
  • Julie Munn-Sims, Principal, KPMG
  • Kara Byrne, Sr Proposal Manager, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Karen McKee, Senior Vice President, Exxon Mobil
  • Katherine Culbert, CEO and Co-Founder, K and K Process
  • Kathy Lehne, CEO, Sun Coast Resources
  • Krista Caldwell, Mobility Manager, Worley Parsons
  • Kristie McLin, Petroleum Geochemistry and Basin Modeling Manager, ConocoPhillips
  • Lily Thomas, Lead Commodity Management specialist, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Lindsay Sander, Principal, Sander Resources
  • Maitri Erwin, Manager - NV, South America, CNOOC Nexen Inc
  • Maria O'Connell, Vice President of Quality, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Mary Van Domelen, President, Van Domelen International, LLC
  • Michele Harradence, Sr. Vice President, Gas Transmission & Midstream Operations, Enbridge
  • Michele McNichol, CEO, Arion Blue LLC
  • Monica Suman Krishnan, Technology and Deployment Manager, Chevron
  • Muhammad Imran Khan, Mari Petroleum Company Limited, Pakistan
  • Mystie Barrett, Process Specialist, Aera Energy LLC
  • Noor Alenezi, Lead Engineer, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • PaigePR Team: Paige Donnell, Kristen Quinn, Natasha Wilson, Megan Anderson
  • Pam Darwin, Vice President Africa, ExxonMobil
  • Patricia Conrad, Senior Customer Service Manager, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Rachelle Kernen, Geologist, PhD Candidate and BP Intern
  • Rebecca Hofmann, Leader - Management Systems & Blockchain Strategy & Innovation, Equinor
  • Sarah Jane Walker, Senior Integration Manager, Baker Hughes, a GE company
  • Shanta Eaden, Director, Global IT PMO, CPI, Weatherford
  • Sophia Washington, Vice President, IT Solution Delivery, EDF Energy Services
  • Valerie Wilson, Senior Technical Advisor, AIG


In addition to highlighting the winners, the GRIT Awards experience will feature keynote addresses from Geeta Thakorlal, president of INTECSEA, and Crystal Washington, a technology expert, author and futurist. The GRIT Awards will also invite a panel of experts to discuss the insights gained from the first-ever Energy Diversity & Inclusion Index, a survey Experience Energy released earlier this summer to get a gauge on the state of inclusion in energy.


NES Global Talent, a sponsor for the GRIT Awards, was drawn to the opportunity to honor these leaders, but also to generate thought-provoking conversations and ideas.


“The industry is working to build the workforce of tomorrow, built on diversity, inclusion and innovation. Part of that transformation means pulling together the brightest minds and recognizing those who are changing the industry from within. The GRIT Awards accomplishes all those things,” said  Vicki Codd, marketing director for NES Global Talent. “And we are thrilled to be involved.”


To sponsor or purchase tickets, click here.


For media inquiries, contact Mary Johnson at


About Pink Petro and Experience Energy:  Pink Petro is the leading global community and social enterprise aimed at creating the new future and ending the gender gap in energy. Using social technology, its mission is to elevate and connect individuals, companies, and industry to create an inclusive workforce and supply chain. The community has a presence in 120 countries in nearly 500 companies across energy in oil and natural gas, LNG, renewables, and nuclear. Experience Energy is the destination careers site for diverse talent in energy.  For more information, visit and   

The results are in, and we are not surprised to find so many of our wonderful supporters selected as honorees for the 2018 Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business.


The Women Who Mean Business awards honor Houston-area powerhouse businesswomen who have been carefully selected by the Houston Business Journal and its panel of industry experts. These deserving ladies have earned this recognition based on their career achievements, contributions to their company and city success, community involvement, and their leadership.


As a proud partner to Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, we are pleased to congratulate these supporters of Pink Petro!


 Misty Rowe, cementing technology portfolio manager of Halliburton and Pink Petro advisory board member, has been selected as one of the twelve women to watch.


Christina Ibrahim with Weatherford, Sara Ortwein with XTO Energy, Tandra Jackson with KPMG US, Michele McNichol with Arion,  and Starlee Sykes with BP have all been named as outstanding leaders in energy.


We are so proud of all the strong female business leaders who have made this list, and we’re especially pumped for the ladies in our favorite industry—the energy leaders.


REGISTER TODAY receive 15% off the standard ticket price, please use the code: pinkpetro18

Anadarko stakeholder relations teamThe GRIT Awards is committed to honoring energy’s unsung heroes — the women, men and teams doing the heads-down gritty work of building a new future for energy.

At our first-ever GRIT Awards ceremony back in March, one of the teams we honored was the Colorado Stakeholder Relations team at Anadarko, one of the world’s largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies. Anadarko recently joined Pink Petro as a corporate member. With operations in Colorado, Texas and worldwide, the company is committed to developing, acquiring and exploring for oil and natural gas resources vital to the world’s health and welfare responsibly.

It’s also committed to doing that work in collaboration with the communities surrounding its areas of operations. That’s where the Stakeholder Relations team comes in: Its priority is to communicate with and listen to residents in communities where oil and natural gas development and neighborhoods coexist.

It’s not an easy job as the team strives to do whatever it can to help minimize the inconvenience our world-class operations have on the community when operations and urban expansion coincide.  The role has become vital to how Anadarko operates in the U.S. and beyond.

We spoke with members of the Anadarko Stakeholder Relations team — eight dedicated servant leaders — about how they work and why they love what they do.

PINK PETRO: Give us a look at the role Stakeholder Relations play in Anadarko’s Colorado area of operations.

The Stakeholder Relations team strives to regularly meet citizens with a sense of empathy and understanding to try to find common ground and build trust. They listen with respect and compassion. They attend community events on evenings, weekends and holidays to gain a better understanding of the community's values and build relationships. They answer the phone without hesitation when a stakeholder calls with an issue and tirelessly try to find solutions that will improve the experience of living near one of the nation’s most important oil and natural gas producing regions. When a solution can’t be found, they remain a resource for community members. They do all of this because they care deeply about the residents who live in the communities where we operate and are unwavering in their commitment to resolving the conflict that arises when oil and natural gas development occurs in urban areas.


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

When we first stepped out into the community to establish our social license to operate, the Stakeholder Relations team quickly learned that our efforts would need to go beyond a traditional communications campaign and that tailoring our operations to a growing urban setting was going to be key to changing public sentiment. However, in the beginning one of the mistakes we made was not challenging the internal status quo hard enough during the planning phase for new well development to ensure efficient communication was occurring across our organization. From land to drilling to completions and midstream construction, everyone needed to be informed at every step. We learned it is important to speak up and be persistent when presenting our understanding of the community’s concerns and the need to optimize the plan and improve the compatibility of our operations with the communities. Open and constructive debate leads to better solutions.


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

As a Stakeholder Relations representative, you often meet with or speak to members of the community who are upset with the current circumstances relating to oil and natural gas operations. These stakeholders often direct their frustrations at our representatives. The most rewarding part of being a member of this team is seeing how the strategies employed to overcome this dynamic, such as active listening and empathy, can help to garner trust and build lasting relationships with residents.


One example of this is a resident with whom the team has a four-year relationship. The citizen initially called the Anadarko Colorado Response Line very upset at the prospect of having her home sandwiched by two large-scale oil and gas developments. By actively listening, investing the time to understand her issues, and doing what we could to lessen the impact of these temporary operations on her day-to-day life, we were able to build a meaningful relationship with this resident. She has even become a community advocate for Anadarko, often sharing her story about how much the team helped her and encouraging residents who are frustrated with oil and natural gas operations near their homes to reach out.


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

Our biggest role models are the men and women working in the field who recognize that it is essential to treat the community with respect. They were doing stakeholder relations long before the Stakeholder Relations team was established. These men and women take time during their day to say hello to a landowner or meet with a concerned citizen and share information. They know the importance of balancing the needs of the people who live near our operations and those of the company.


Our job is to support them and to work with them to ensure they are able to develop the resources all of us need every day to sustain modern life, while also addressing the needs and concerns of residents living near operations.


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

Anadarko’s Stakeholder Relations team is regularly involved in finding unique opportunities to align values and build meaningful, long-term partnerships with the communities where we operate. 


One of the hallmark community partnerships the Stakeholder Relations team is responsible for is the Mead High School Energy Academy, a unique program designed to immerse students in all facets of the energy industry; from engineering, math and science to data management, welding and pipefitting. In addition to securing financial and in-kind contributions for the program each year, the Stakeholder Relations team was heavily involved in the ideation and development of the program and continues to be actively engaged as the program grows.


Additionally, the Stakeholder Relations team is actively engaged in the community in the following ways:

  • Supporting municipal community events such as festivals and holiday celebrations
  • Filling and delivering backpacks with much needed school supplies to students in need
  • Collaborating with local law enforcement to provide gifts for families in need during the holidays
  • Working with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for veterans and their families
  • Serving meals to residents in need
  • Serving on local nonprofit boards
  • Restoring local trails and outdoor recreation areas

Attend the GRIT Awards on October 3 -- 

Geeta ThakorlalGeeta Thakorlal is the president of INTECSEA, leader of the Advisian Front End Hydrocarbons & Chemicals global business as part of the WorleyParsons group, a Pink Petro member and a keynote speaker at our upcoming GRIT Awards.


As of today, Geeta is also a member of the Group Leadership Team at WorleyParsons.


The appointment represents yet another milestone in a career filled with them. We profiled Geeta earlier this month when she shared the story of her first experience in the offshore sector, back in 1988 after the Piper Alpha accident in the North Sea. Geeta was part of a UK team that provided expert advice on the incident.


Now, as she joins the Group Leadership Team at WorleyParsons, Geeta becomes part of an exciting statistic within the company: 30% of the women in the company’s sponsorship program have made significant moves this year. Also noteworthy is the fact that women account for roughly 21% of employees at WorleyParsons and about 26% of the leadership teams within the company.


“I am honored to join this incredible team of leaders at WorleyParsons and look forward to contributing to the growth of our organization. It’s also an honor to be part of a company committed to developing the talented women within the organization into the next generation of leaders,” Geeta told us.


Geeta remains committed to the advancement of women in leadership and has been recognized for her contributions by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in 2014, Consult Australia in 2015 and the Houston Business Journal, in the Women Who Mean Business in Energy category, in 2017.  Additionally, Geeta has also participated in the Chief Executive Women (CEW) networking group in Australia and is the Vice President of Lean In Energy.


Our congratulations go out to Geeta, and we look forward to hearing more from this incredible woman live at the GRIT Awards on Oct. 3!

Allison Lami SawyerAllison Lami Sawyer’s career is a study in the value of calculated risk.


Before the age of 30, Allison, a speaker at HERWorld18 earlier this year, abandoned her plan to start a company in nanoscale physics to co-found another disruptive business, Rebellion Photonics, which uses technology to help major oil and gas companies bring leak rates down significantly — in some cases by 90 percent within one quarter.


She built the business into a $5 million company with nearly 40 employees and then embarked on yet another adventure in unknown territory: politics. A political rookie, Allison is currently running for office in the Texas House of Representatives.


She’s also helping other women embrace calculated risks of their own: Two years ago, Allison co-founded StartHereNow, a startup weekend for women that focuses on early-stage women-led startups. The competition is part-incubator and part-pitch day, brainstorming session and hackathon and aims to create a collaborative environment for women to build impactful companies.


The next StartHereNow weekend will be held Sept. 29 – 30 in Houston. Up for grabs is a $10,000 grand prize.  


“We are excited that these prizes will help attract highly scalable, impactful businesses to the competition and also spotlighting the exciting things happening in the Texas startup environment,” Allison said in a statement.


StartHereNow is accepting applications for the competition (you can apply at the organization’s website), and it’s open to founders with startup ideas and team participants. Women who are interested in entrepreneurship or exploring startups are encouraged to join a team, and no prior startup or business experience is necessary.


The competition’s mission is to create a collaborative environment where women can bring to life ideas that they are passionate about and build companies that solve big problems. And Allison is proof that a little bit of risk can pay off in a very big way.


You can read more about Allison's career here. And to do your part to celebrate the gritty leaders in energy, register to attend the GRIT Awards on Oct. 3 in Houston! We'll be celebrating the industry's unsung heroes, and delving into the state of diversity and inclusion in energy and how technology will lead us forward. You don't want to miss it! 

We get this question a lot: What does it take to build a strong, inclusive company culture?


The answer is far from simple. Many companies try and fail to find the secret ingredient — free food, unlimited vacation time, open workspaces designed to foster collaboration. But in the course of all our work on culture and inclusion across a broad swath of energy companies, we have discovered three critical pieces that underpin every strong, successful company:


Mentorship. Environment. And networks.


Lean In EnergyWe’ve spent the past month talking through each of these elements. Last week, our focus was the importance of mentorship — specifically on the work we are doing through Lean In Energy, the nonprofit organization we founded in collaboration with Sheryl Sandberg’s global Lean In organization. 


In our story on the Women of Weatherford — the women’s networking organization taking shape within Weatherford International — we talked through the value of networks in advancing your career. We followed that up with a Coach’s Corner conversation with two executives from ConocoPhillips about how to leverage both internal and external networks — and why it’s important to have both.


TechSpaceAnd finally, we talked through environment and why space matters in building a strong culture — but not in the ways we usually think. It’s not about style or design (although that doesn’t hurt); it’s about bringing people together in a way that creates connection. Space builds an ecosystem of support, whether that’s within a single company or at a coworking space that plays host to entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelancers alike.


We also dig into these core elements in the Energy Diversity & Inclusion Index, the survey Experience Energy launched earlier this summer to gain first-of-its-kind insight into the state of inclusion in energy. We’ll be digging into the results during a panel discussion at the GRIT Awards on Oct. 3, so now is your last chance to fill out the survey and make your voice heard.   


Click here to take the survey.


And don’t forget to register for the GRIT Awards to hear the results of the Energy Diversity & Inclusion Index revealed live!

We held the first GRIT Awards back in March because we identified a profound need to honor the unsung heroes of energy — the leaders in our industry who are committed to growth, resilience, innovation and transition.


We are bringing them back on Oct. 3 because we recognize there are many more women and men worthy of this honor.


But the GRIT Awards are about so much more than handing out awards. It’s a full-on experience — another opportunity for us to bring this community together and share ideas, information and insight.


That’s why we’ve put together a half-day’s worth of thought-provoking content to stimulate conversation and create more opportunities for connection.


Here’s a breakdown of what we’ve got in store for you (get your tickets here!):


Doors open at 9 a.m. for registration and networking. Then, we’re going to kick off our day with a keynote address from futurist Crystal Washington.


 Crystal Washington, Futurist KeynoteCrystal is a technology and social media expert, an author and, yes, a futurist (you can read our full profile on her here), and she’ll be digging into the current state of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the impact technology will have on its future. As part of that, she’ll talk through how technology doesn’t necessarily eliminate bias and the ways to combat that. She’ll also highlight the technology that should be on your radar, how to leverage it and what is coming soon that could change the game for women and men in energy.


 Demystifying the Data Panel featuring Jason Korman of gapingvoid, Vicki Codd of NES Global Talent & Katie Mehnert of Pink Petro & Experience EnergyAfter lunch, we will invite a panel of experts to the stage to delve into the details of several recent studies into the state of inclusion in energy. That includes our first-ever Energy Diversity and Inclusion Index survey (which you can take part in here), which we launched to gauge industry sentiment around current diversity efforts. NES Global Talent also conducted a survey focused on women in energy and how they feel about what their companies and our industry have to offer. And PESA studied the in-flow and out-flow of female talent in energy and identified actions organizations can take to get more women into leadership roles. Our discussion will dig into all those numbers and break down what they could mean for inclusion in industry. Our experts will also take the discussion out into the audience, engaging other leaders in the room to talk through what surprised them, what didn’t and what actions the data has inspired. All that will come with one final challenge — to commit to doing something with what everyone learned when they get back to the office.



Geeta Thakorlal, President of INTECSEA and VP of Lean In Energy. GRIT Keynote speakerThen, we’ll invite our second keynote speaker to the stage. Geeta Thakorlal is the president of INTECSEA. (You can read more about her incredible career here.) Her work in the offshore sector began in the aftermath of the world’s deadliest offshore rig accident and then progressed over the years to her current role as president of the leading offshore engineering consultancy, and as managing director of the company's Global Front End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals group, which is part of the WorleyParsons Group. She understands how diversity and inclusion in energy has evolved over the years, and she’s acutely aware of the role technology and innovation must play as we move forward as an industry.


Last, but certainly not least, we will close out our day by honoring our GRIT Award winners — the women and men you nominated for the game-changing work they do, day in and day out. This will be your chance to find out who made the cut — LIVE in Houston or .  


This is an experience you don’t want to miss — both for the opportunity to honor a humble and deserving group of energy leaders and the chance to deepen your insight into the state of energy and innovation now and in the future.


Click here to register today!

TechSpace main areaWhy waste a good crisis?  We didn't. 


When Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston one year ago, Pink Petro HQ was in its path.


Our space wasn’t flooded, but the building that housed that space was so badly damaged, we couldn’t go back. 


Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support from the Houston community — we found our way to TechSpace, a bright, modern coworking space in the Energy Corridor. 


Site Manager Bobby Spoden provided our team a space immediately.  And we soon learned that TechSpace ethos falls in perfect alignment with our mission at Pink Petro and Experience Energy: It’s built around connection, collaboration and, mostly importantly, disruption.


TechSpace flex spaceCoworking is changing the way we work, and if you aren’t already familiar with the concept, here’s a primer: Coworking spaces are communal offices, with wide open spaces where individuals can snag a desk and set up shop for the day, as well as dedicated offices where companies can house entire teams. They aren’t just home to the so-called “gig-ers” — members of the freelance economy formerly relegated to coffee shops and home offices. They are home to big companies and small companies, startups and small to mid-sized businesses.TechSpace Bayou City


The concept is upending the commercial real estate market for a lot of reasons. From a cost standpoint, coworking spaces are typically far more reasonable than an office lease, and the terms far more "flexible". Many coworking spaces only require you to commit for one month at a time. Compare that to the two- to three-year leases you’ll find at traditional office spaces.


But more than that, they are building communities (you know we love that) and thriving business ecosystems, where businesses support one another and collaborate. It’s the kind of place where you’ll meet someone grabbing coffee (which is free, by the way), and an hour later, you’re partnering on a project.


And we're always meeting new businesses that can help ours grow and thrive.


It happens. Just ask Bobby. He has worked with Pink Petro as we outgrew our first space and spilled across the hall into a substantially bigger one (and as TechSpace has become a proud Pink Petro member and sponsor). And he understands the inherent challenges in disrupting an old-school industry — and the power.


"People inherently want to be around other people. When you take that idea and put it in a business atmosphere, the outcome is amazing," Bobby explains. "You create a collaborative ecosystem with amenities and services that give small to large companies the flexibility to grow and manage their core business in a business professional atmosphere, just not one they aren't use to — yet!"


That ecosystem is vital when it comes to the future of work, says Jason Korman, co-founder and CEO of the culture design firm Gapingvoid.


TechSpace boothsWhile people constantly clamor for the ability to work from home, Jason said that trend is a disadvantage for both the individual worker and the team as a whole.


Social capital matters a great deal in being effective, and remote work heavily imapcts the quality and quality of interactions,” Jason explains. “In fact, remote working puts the Allen Curve on steroids.”  


The Allen Curve refers to a 1979 study that concluded that the level of collaboration of engineers declines dramatically the further apart they sit. It only took 200 feet of office to significantly impair collaboration, Jason says.


“I’d bet that technology has made up for a bit of that, but we do consistently find that remote workers are not as aligned with organizations as their counterparts at HQ,” he says.


Here in Houston, coworking wasn’t a slam-dunk concept from day one. There were skeptics — those who wondered why anyone would pay to work in a communal space when they could camp out on their couches for free.


We encountered something similar when we built Pink Petro and Experience Energy. We knew our big idea — to bust the gender gap in energy — was going to challenge the status quo. We also knew that status quo needed to be challenged and that we couldn’t do it alone. We wanted to build a strong, thriving community to join us on this wild ride and work together to transform the energy industry as we knew it.


We are beyond grateful for TechSpace — not only for giving us space during our time of need but for also getting who we are and what we do.


"I remember when I walked into Techspace.  I was in borrowed clothing, flip flops and had fished out my laptop from my (still) flooded home. Hurricane Harvey was a real pain for me personally and professionally but little did I know then that Techspace was an amazing start to a journey that speaks volumes to where we are as a company today," says Katie Mehnert, Founder of Pink Petro. 


We are so proud to have Techspace a part of that journey.  We're kindred spirits in our push for industry transformations, and now that we’ve joined forces? Well, there’s no telling what we can do.


Come by and visit us!

Inclusive is the new exclusiveLast week, we told you about an exciting initiative we’re launching in collaboration with the Experience Energy GRIT Awards on Oct. 3 (get your tickets here!) — the Energy Diversity and Inclusion IndexTM. And you all have responded — in droves.


First, thank you for embracing this opportunity to take the pulse of the state of inclusion in energy. Nothing like this has been done to date, and we’re looking forward to offering new insight into the entire industry supply chain.


But we’re not done yet.


Although we’ve collected more than 250 responses, we need more — not only to get a more accurate pool of data but also to gather greater participation from under-represented groups, geographies and sectors.


More ethnic & racial diversity

What do we mean by that? For one, the vast majority of our survey respondents thus far — 70% by last count — have been white. We’ve collected responses from those who identify as Hispanic (11%), African-American and South Asian (tied at about 5%), but we’d like to see much more participation from a range of races and ethnicities. After all, this survey is all about inclusion.


How can you help?  Spread the survey around your company’s employee resource groups or to the members of your team who represent different racial and ethnic backgrounds. We want to know their thoughts on energy as a whole.


More geographic diversity

We’re also seeing a high concentration of responses from those living in the United States (79%), with the rest spread mostly between Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Norway, Sudan, UAE and the UK. Energy is global, and we’ve always intended Pink Petro and Experience Energy to serve a global audience. We want the Energy Diversity & Inclusion IndexTM to do the same.


How can you help?  Send the survey to your colleagues and friends in all parts of the world. Studies have shown the lack of diversity in energy is not a uniquely American problem. To tackle it, we need to know what’s going on around the globe, not just in our own backyard.


More young professionals

When it comes to age, the majority of respondents thus far fall between the ages of 25 and 54. Career level and experience seem to coincide with that range, with most of our respondents labeling themselves as either middle management or intermediate career level, with the rest split between senior management and C-level executives. That means we need more young, entry-level professionals to weigh in. We know the industry struggles to retain top talent, and we need to know why.


How can you help?  Pass the survey along to your interns and the youngest members of your team. Even if they haven’t been in the industry long, it’s important to know the impressions they’re getting right off the bat. That could provide valuable information about how to keep them engaged for the long haul.


More sector diversity 

Lastly, we’ve collected a ton of responses from those working in upstream oil and gas, with decent representation from downstream and midstream companies as well. But we want the Energy Diversity & Inclusion IndexTM to represent the entire energy supply chain, from transportation and utilities to professional services. We also want it to represent newer forms of energy, such as renewables, hydro and nuclear.


How can you help?  Send the survey to your colleagues and friends in different parts of the industry and encourage them to participate.


What people are saying

Part of our survey leaves room for free-form responses — anecdotes, stories and opinions. The index is completely anonymous, so it’s an opportunity to weigh in with personal insight without fear of retribution. Here’s what a few of you have said so far.



“At one point, I was getting paid over 15% less than my male counterpart that had just been hired on with the same years of experience. I had to bring up to management that I needed to know why I was being compensated differently from other engineers. They decided to give me a raise but to not mention it to anyone. I still did not meet the pay level of my counterpart, but something is better than nothing.”



We have a fabulous mix for diversity. This enables all of us to be comfortable sharing views and adding value. We are a young company and the CEO sets the tone - open and honest. Having worked for 25 years in banking, this is a much better work environment!



"I feel that most of the I&D efforts at my company have been focused on biological differences, like race, Gender, sexual orientation and age. I think the conversation could be greatly improved if we looked at the other many dimensions of diversity available to us, whether they are personal (personality, hobbies, marital/parental status, geography, etc.) or work-related (location, seniority, department/division/group, functional level or classification, etc)."

This is your chance to weigh in on the state of inclusion in energy. Don’t miss out — click here to access the survey. And don’t forget to join us at the Experience Energy GRIT Awards on Oct. 3 to hear the results live! 

Inclusion is the new exclusiveEach year for the past three years, the New York Times has published something called the Glass Ceiling Index.


The index provides a look at the number of women and men in important leadership roles in American life. This year, the headline read: “The top jobs where women are outnumbered by men named John.”


At first, we saw the headline and laughed. After all, it’s pretty ridiculous that you’re more likely to find a “John” in a position of leadership in this country than you are a woman. But then we started thinking, and asking ourselves, Where is this information for the energy sector?


The answer? Nowhere — until now.


Experience Energy, a Pink Petro company, is launching today the Energy Diversity and Inclusion Index™ — the first survey of its kind that will examine the state of inclusion across our industry. But we aren’t looking at names; we’re going deeper than that to uncover what makes a culture truly inclusive.


The questions — pulled together with the help of cutting-edge tools made available by SurveyMonkey — cover those aspects of culture and inclusion that are hard to quantify: a sense of belonging, professional development opportunities, the ability to voice opinions, being valued, and fairness — in promotions, compensation and feedback.  After all, we know that pay is just one metric, and one that many industry surveys focus on.  More and more, we know that meaning, culture and belonging are the secret sauce to a great workplace.


Why does this kind of work matter? Because what gets measured gets changed, and a more inclusive energy industry is a more profitable, innovative, safe and sustainable one.


For our members and energy companies, this is an independent opportunity to make your voice heard. The survey allows you to weigh in on the state of D&I in energy now, and what needs to happen moving forward. And it only takes 8 minutes of your time. Click here to get startedRead all about it the EDII website.


Once we’ve collected all this information, we’ll talk about what we learned at the GRIT Awards on Oct. 3 in Houston, an experience that will also be streamed live online. In addition to keynote addresses from INTECSEA President Geeta Thakorlal and futurist Crystal Washington, we’re assembling a panel of energy leaders and experts, sponsored by our good friends at NES Global Talent, to talk about the results of the survey and talk through what it all means for where we are now and where we’re headed. (Get your tickets today!)


We say it all the time: the new T’s and C’s in energy are talent and culture. The Energy Diversity and Inclusion Index™ is the tool in fostering that transformation. The faster our industry goes beyond diversity and embraces inclusion, the stronger we become.

This. Is. It.


The deadline for the Experience Energy GRIT Awards is this Friday, July 20. That means you have just a few days left to nominate yourself or someone you know for this unique honor in the energy industry. (You can take care of that right here, right now.)


We think it's a pretty incredible opportunity. But don’t take it from us.


Mike AdamsWe see a lot of the times with traditional awards the industry, [they are] focused on highly commercial new technologies or big business deals,” says Mike Adams of Norwell Edge, one of our inaugural GRIT Award winners. “But what the GRIT awards do is they highlight everyday progress that’s being made on the ground in areas like education, diversity and inclusion — huge parts of our industry going forward that people need to focus on.” (Click here to hear what else he had to say about GRIT.)



Jaime GlasJaime Glas of HauteWork said her GRIT Award reinforced what she was doing in creating a line of flame-resistant clothing designed exclusively for women. “This award, it really was life-changing for me. It was the first industry award that I won, and it gave me so much confidence that, ‘What you’re doing, Jaime, is right. It’s what we need. So keep at it.’” (Click here to hear more from Jaime on the impact of GRIT.)



Souzi WeilandAnd Souzi Weiland of Southwestern Energy calls it "a high honor, such great recognition for those of us who are working down in the trenches … So if you know anyone who has GRIT, who lives and work in a gritty way, I highly encourage you to nominate them.” (Click here for more from Souzi on what GRIT means to her.)


Katie Mehnert, the founder and CEO of Experience Energy and Pink Petro, couldn’t agree more.


“You can nominate entrepreneurs. You can nominate execs, professionals, teams, women and male champions. We need to get those nominations in!”


So consider this your last call: Nominate for the GRIT Awards today!

Mike Adams is the co-founder of the upstream elearning platform Norwell Edge. He’s also one of our inaugural GRIT Award winners.


The experience of winning a GRIT Award has allowed him to meet new people and connect with others who share the same values around education and diversity and inclusion. He has also welcomed the opportunity to be recognized by what he considers to be a first-of-its-kind award in energy now.


“We see a lot of the times with traditional awards in the industry, [they are] focused on highly commercial new technologies or big business deals. But what the GRIT awards do is they highlight everyday progress that’s being made on the ground in areas like education, diversity and inclusion — huge parts of our industry going forward that people need to focus on.”


Read more about Mike and his work with Norwell Edge here. To nominate yourself or someone you know for a GRIT Award, click here. The deadline for nominations is July 20!