Resilience in the wake of both personal and public crises was front and center at the 2018 HERWorld Global Energy Forum held March 8 in Houston.
Aera Energy’s Aimee Blaine, senior vice president of technology, told the 450 audience members in Houston and thousands more watching online that Aera was forced to become more efficient after oil prices began collapsing in 2015.
Part of the panel discussion, “Resilience: How to Rebuild from a Crisis,” Blaine shared how Aera undertook a major organizational redesign, found ways to make its products and services more efficient, and used Lean management strategies to reduce costs by more than $300 million.
“We also refreshed our purpose, vision and values for the first time since they were formed almost 20 years before,” she said.
Joining Blaine on the panel were three other energy industry executives who told how their organizations have collaborated with community to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Harvey.
Although California doesn’t have hurricanes, Blaine noted, the state has wildfires and mudslides that have wreaked havoc in the last few months. Preparation and a community effort of employees, neighbors and firefighters helped mitigate fire damage at Aera’s operation in Ventura, she said.
In sharing her story of personal resilience, Blaine told of her seven-year battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Given a 40 percent chance of survival, she endured multiple treatments, infections, hospital stays and a bone marrow transplant. “There were so many low points,” she said.
After doctors told her she couldn’t return to work, Blaine focused on simply staying alive and living long enough to see her young son graduate from high school. Finally, she participated in a clinical trial that sent her cancer into remission.
“I am so fortunate,” Blaine said.
Not only did she gain renewed purpose by going back to work, but her role in the clinical trial “helped get a cancer drug approved, and I am proud of that,” she said.
The Forum was also broadcast live to 100 employees at Aera’s Bakersfield headquarters. Among them was Aera Accountant Kaitlin Senecal, who said she was refreshed by the “empowerment and energy” of the day-long event.
“We get so caught up in our day-to-day world, we forget there’s more out there,” Senecal said.
San Ardo Reservoir Engineer Erin Larner agreed. “It’s been inspiring to hear so many women leaders sharing their stories and vulnerability,” said Larner. “You don’t always get to see that many people talking about those things in the workplace.”
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the Forum is produced annually by Pink Petro, a global community focused on ending the gender gap in the energy industry.