Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A return to work is now easier

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It was 2014 when I took my paper napkin scribble idea to Halliburton and Shell. They were “in”. Despite the crash of oil prices from $110 to $60, these two progressive companies knew that women and minorities would play a huge role in the future workforce of energy and they told me to just “go build it”.

There was just this one thing.

I had to convince my husband that it was better for me to spend my time outside of the industry to make it better. I had afforded years of a great paying job, but wanted some time out to try something new. It was a risk.

With prices crashing 50% and layoffs impending, it was a tall task to make happen. He said “you’ve got a year”. So while the world was freaking out, I started to plug away at Pink Petro.

There have been times I have contemplated “going back” into an industry role.

To be honest, though, returning seemed difficult, even with the network I’ve amassed in 20 years. For many it’s hard to find your way back. Who do you call? With gaps on the resume, will employers discredit your expertise? Where do you even begin?

My journey as it stands has kept me on the entrepreneurial path. I’ve survived the transition to parenthood (when there were no special programs) entrepreneurship (despite a market crash), a hurricane, and all the work and life experiences that we are afforded as we age. One year turned into two and this fall will be my fifth year away from a traditional industry role.

And then I got a call from Chevron.

Stacey Olson, President from Appalachia and I met on the 49th floor of the Chevron tower to talk about Chevron’s Welcome Back returnship program.

Talk about a surreal “return to work”.

Nearly 19 years ago I started my career in energy supporting a huge project at Enron. The last time I visited those towers was the day the company excused, everyone. As a young 20-something I was witness to some heavy topics. The Enron scandal broke news just weeks after 911. One of my early career ‘sheroes’ Sherron Watkins had the immense courage to do the right thing and whistleblow.

It was a unique experience as someone so young. I experienced 911, market crashes, bankruptcy, divestments, layoffs (sadly suicides) and all that came after, all from Enron Tower 1.

A lot has changed since those days.

Would you believe I worked on the same floor I met Stacey? When I went back to my old stomping ground, I experienced a sense of excitement. I met with Chevron leaders to talk about the future of energy, its people, the role women are playing and the energy transition underway. We spoke of the real commitment Chevron is putting on transforming the way it works.

It’s amazing how things come full circle.

The late Steve Jobs once said ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.’

The energy industry needs more diversity and minds looking at the challenges.

I believe we have great challenges ahead of us that only human energy will solve. Check out Chevron’s “Welcome Back” program here.

Katie Mehnerthttp://www.katiemehnert.com
Katie Mehnert is the CEO and Founder of Pink Petro and Experience Energy. She's an author, speaker, and sought out expert on energy culture and talent.

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