A toast to Aera
Aera Energy receives Corporate Recognition Award for longtime sponsorship of workplace Toastmasters Club
Jackie Jones joined Aera as a lean specialist in 2018 with public speaking anxiety. She recalls a time when she would do anything to avoid speaking in front of a group because of how it made her feel.
“I would call in sick or offer to do all the work on a project if someone else would do the presenting,” Jones recalled. “I eventually realized I wouldn’t be able to avoid public speaking if I wanted to achieve my career goals.”
So, she joined Aera Toastmasters immediately after she found out about it. She’s spent the last five years dedicating herself to gaining confidence as a speaker while learning how to conduct effective meetings, practice time management, enhance listening skills, sharpen presentation and leadership skills — all with support from her manager and the Toastmasters network.
The experience changed her life. Jones now comfortably facilitates workshops for large groups of employees, presents to senior leadership, and volunteers on behalf of Aera at community events including the Kern County Science Fair. The training has helped her speak confidently with students, community members, family, and friends about the oil and gas industry. And now, she is committed to helping others find their confidence and achieve their goals – taking on a volunteer role to help start three new corporate clubs for the City of Bakersfield, Chevron San Joaquin Valley, and J.G. Boswell Company in Corcoran.
“I see communication-skill development as a journey of continuous improvement. Toastmasters provides members with a safe place to practice, learn and improve. I am proud of the growth I see in our members at each meeting. I love sharing my experience and encouraging organizations to invest in their employees in the same way Aera has invested in me,” Jones said.
More than 125 Aera employees have participated in Aera Toastmasters’ since it started 14 years ago. The club currently has about 15 members.
“Toastmasters is a powerful tool for those who are working to improve their skills and be heard,” said Kent Gerhardt, Aera human resources manager. “Every person in Aera is, at some point, a leader within their team and when we hire, develop, and promote our people the ability to communicate well is one of the strongest differentiators we have.”
Aera recently received a Corporate Recognition Award from Toastmasters International for its long-time support of the Toastmasters program and for encouraging employee participation.
“Aera provides financial support, encourages service in Toastmasters leadership, and identifies participants as a public speaking resource for its employees,” said Jesse Oakley, III, Toastmasters International region 2 international director.
“Toastmasters contributes to the success of our people and helps them live Aera’s values of engagement, empowerment, inclusion, and community. We are grateful for their support, and we are incredibly honored to receive this award,” Gerhardt said.
Aera Toastmasters meets twice a month and is open to all Aera employees. It’s one of 15 clubs in Kern County.