Reflections on Episode 10 with Shereen Yusuff, Production Petroleum Engineer

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Shereen Yusuff… what a fascinating human!

Shereen is a Production Petroleum Engineer who has held positions in Project Management, Business Development and Customer Success through her 15 year career in Oil and Gas. Within oil and gas, she has worked on Production, Drilling and Reservoirs. This is a unique experience in the context of oil and gas professionals because she has worked on both the service and operator sides of the industry.
When listening to Mel and Shereen talk openly about Shereen’s life, I am again reminded about the power of storytelling! The talk of Oil & Gas took me back to my first time walking on a fracing skid (not in the field), I was fascinated by the equipment and this industry!   I recently found out my dad had been a Derrickman (A derrickman is a person who sits atop the derrick on a drilling rig to help guide the stands of the drill pipe into the fingers at the top of the lifting device.  He also worked on the piston pumps and diesel engines!) before I was born, and I felt a sense of pride rush over me!  It is a tough job, but very rewarding… so I’ve heard!  I was actually working on a media brand for the Upstream Oil & Gas industry when I faced my largest career struggle.  I had such high expectations for myself and my team, and I didn’t have the skills nor opportunity to manage the situation.  This is part of the reason I am so determined to teach these skills to the future generation.
I have been thinking a lot about Change and it’s power to increase or decrease an organization’s success. As I listened to Shereen’s story about facing culture change at an early age, I believe her quote “You must adapt” is the key to her success and ours!  We have to adapt to people, places, roles, and expectations.  I remember facing similar challenges and opportunities as a young woman in this challenging male-dominated industry.  I LOVE the challenge of this industry, and I’d like to keep the good while improving on the bad.  To do this, we must listen to learn and then use our voice.
Shereen has lived in many different countries and cultures.  Her stories reminded me of my time in college when I was the historian for the International Student Association!  I loved this group and it introduced me to many different cultures.  One of my tasks was to cover the “Flavor Fest” event. On this day, students showcased their culture with food and dancing… What’s not to love there! I remember the bellydancers and beautiful Indian clothes during the festival! ( I still want to be invited to an Indian wedding!)  I love fashion and any type of dancing… but I have a special place for Bolly which I learned from this amazing group!  I have never been to India.  My first time across the sea was to Australia.  This was such a transitional moment for me (22 at the time) as I planned the trip, secured the funds myself, and traveled alone.  When I was there, I faced adversity with the host family and had to adapt to my surroundings. I created a stronger relationship with my internship verses the family.   It was there my eyes were truly opened.  It was the first time I saw a room full of women all from different countries leading the meetings.  Similar to Shereen, I had a moment when I thought, “WOW! I want to be like her!”
Shereen’s story about a leading lady that impressed her with such graceful leadership reminded me of two women in the pump industry that stood out to me early in my career. With such  graceful presence, Janet Jessen and Gretchen McClain impressed me.  I didn’t have enough direct access to these ladies early in my career, but I still have their image of leadership in my mind.  Controlled. Graceful. Success.   I feel I have a lifetime to go to attain this level, but at least I was able to see them at the top, so I know it is possible.
I will close by restating my favorite quote from Shereen and the mission we are on today…
“You can do a lot just exactly where you’re at. Even if you’ve been in the company for 6 months. Even if you’re in college. Even if you are in school. Even if you’ve been at the company for ten years. It doesn’t matter what space of life you’re in, what your career path is, or where you’re at. I think you can make a difference no matter where you’re at…. You are a walking talking role model for all of the women around you. “
Join us and #BeTheChange!  Hope to see you September 26th in Chicago at the Empowering Women in Industry Conference & Awards Gala.

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