Aera’s 20- and 30-year-olds are helping the industry adjust to a new age
Typically considered the generation born between 1982 and 2000, millennials are an increasingly large demographic at Aera.
Having grown up in the age of digital technology and social media, this group has already begun shaping the future of Aera, the oil and gas industry and the world.
Here, five Aera millennials share their views on what they bring to the table of life and work.
“Millennials want to know we’re having a positive impact on our communities, state and future.”
Jamie Swetalla, specialist, Public Affairs
Swetalla joined Aera in 2018 after working nine years in various roles at three other oil companies. The third generation of her family to work in the oil and gas industry, she holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Dickinson University in North Dakota.
Companies have to be genuine and not just the check-writers. They have to be a business with a positive purpose, and millennials want to work for a business they have a passion for. In Aera, I see that. We are a company that cares about lowering its carbon footprint and doing the right thing. I’m inspired that Aera has a vision for the future and a solution mindset.
Aera’s positive reputation drew me to apply. It took a long time before I was hired, but it was well worth the wait. I knew Aera was a forward-thinking, socially progressive company and one of the first oil and gas companies in Kern County to have a social media presence. If a company isn’t involved and active in a medium that interests millennials, it’s going to lose our attention and our votes because we aren’t educated about the way you do business as company.
Millennials want to know that at the end of the day we’re having a positive impact on our communities, state and overall future. We also want to work for a company that invests as much in us as people as we do in them.
We are also data-driven and like to see results. If a company says it’s reducing its carbon footprint, we want to know exactly how it’s doing that. To millennials, words aren’t enough because we want to see positive and productive outcomes. These days, you’ll find millennials interviewing potential employers to make sure they’re a good fit for us as we are for the companies.
“Millennials in today’s oil and gas industry bring a different perspective to the table than previous generations.”
Joseph Kenrick, production engineer, Investment Recovery Team
Kenrick earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Colorado School of Mines. He joined Aera in February 2018. He helps decommission wells after their lifecycles are complete at Aera’s Belridge, Midway Sunset, San Ardo and Coalinga fields.
My father worked for a major oil company. We lived in New Orleans, Bakersfield, Indonesia and Thailand. I was good at math and science and drawn to engineering. During college, I had four oil and gas internships: in Bangkok, Thailand; New Mexico; Houston; and Kern County with Aera. So I was familiar with a lot of companies. I left my first three internships without a great feeling, that I wasn’t accepted as a true member of the team. Only Aera made me feel that I was contributing. I found purpose here. Aera is not afraid to give a young engineer responsibility.
Millennials want to feel impactful and purposeful in our work, where we’re able to contribute to the team. Growing up in such a connected, digital world, millennials often feel insignificant. To compensate, they look for jobs that make them feel significant.
As a petroleum engineer, I knew my options pointed to an oil and gas career. There are bad perceptions about our industry, but that’s because people fear what they don’t know. Millennials in today’s oil and gas industry bring a different perspective to the table than previous generations. Our challenge is to adapt the industry to the new age. When a generation coming in has grown up its whole life in technology, that offers a whole new perspective to problem-solving.
“Growing up, I didn’t know a lot about the oil and gas industry. I didn’t see an oil well until I was 20 years old.
Ashley Davis, electrical engineer, Belridge field
Georgia-born Davis was class valedictorian at her high school and at Fort Valley State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2015. In 2017, she earned a second bachelor’s degree, this one in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
I interned at Aera for four summers while in college, becoming a full-time employee in 2018. Now I focus mainly on managing electrical capital projects that deal with upgrading and improving the electrical distribution system.
Growing up, I didn’t know a lot about the oil and gas industry. I didn’t see an oil well until I was 20 years old. In high school I was encouraged to apply for the Cooperative Development Energy Program Scholarship. Its goal is to increase the number of minorities and women in the energy industry. Through CDEP, I was introduced to several oil and gas companies, including Aera. Although all of them constantly spoke about how much they cared about the success of the students in the program, Aera showed it. Aera not only donated money to the program but frequently visited the campus and recruited students for its internship program.
After I graduated, I chose to work at Aera because I was impressed by how passionate Aera employees are about producing oil and gas in a way that not only benefits their community but surrounding ones as well. I was also impressed with Aera’s focus on people, environmental safety, community involvement, diversity and work-life balance.
Although I love the challenging work, the real selling point for me is Aera’s employee resource groups, especially the Aera Black Employee Network. ABEN members are like family to me. Being so far from my biological family, it’s a little easier knowing I have my ABEN family close by.
“Millennials often carry the stigma of being lazy and entitled. But we are passionate, innovative, optimized-driven and ambitious.”
Richard Baldoza Quiling, CPA
Born in the Philippines, Quiling immigrated with his family to Kern County at age 10. He attended Bakersfield schools, graduating from California State University-Bakersfield in 2015 with a degree in accounting. He became a CPA in 2017. Quiling is a Team Aera community leader and an Aera Ambassador.
I worked for a public accounting firm after receiving my degree and was clocking in 65 to 72 hours a week during tax season. Although I gained valuable accounting experience, the limited work-life balance played an important role in my decision to move on. My time with my family, church, community and friends was more valuable. After obtaining my CPA license, I decided to pursue private-sector accounting. I joined Aera in 2017 and now enjoy a better work-life balance.
Millennials often carry the stigma of being lazy and entitled. But millennials are passionate, innovative, optimized-driven and ambitious. We are willing to challenge convention to improve a process. Millennials are also very tech savvy, which can be beneficial to the company.
Since most millennials get their information through social media, misinformation about the oil industry can be prevalent. As an Aera Ambassador, I look forward to informative conversations with this group, in hopes of shifting their perspective. For us to continue thriving as a company, we must all be willing to be collaborative. We can then use our uniqueness among each other as a tool for success.
“By choosing oil and gas, I became a part of something big.”
Alison Johnson, internal communications specialist, Human Resources and chair of NEXUS
Johnson came to Aera in 2017 from a technology company and works in human resources. This year, she became chair of NEXUS, an Aera employee resource group that connects early-career and seasoned employees through social networking, community service and professional development. Johnson graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2013 with a degree in communications studies.
As a millennial, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a career in oil and gas. I was looking for an opportunity where I believed in the company’s purpose, shared the company’s values and knew I could make a positive impact. By choosing oil and gas, I became a part of something big, something that matters – an industry and a product that lays the foundation for our everyday lives. By joining Aera, an oil and gas company operating only in California, I became part of a company leading the way in responsible operations and environmental stewardship.
I was recently at an inclusion and diversity conference in the Bay Area, alongside attendees from companies like Microsoft, Netflix and Coca Cola. While there, I realized there are lots of jobs and industries that are sexier or cooler-sounding than the oil industry. And yet, when I zoom out, I know I am part of an industry that makes these other cool jobs, products and services possible—from computer parts to commuter vehicles, from fresh produce on the table to Netflix on our smart TVs.
The future of the energy industry is going to be dynamic and challenging. We need to continue to innovate and make the changes that are needed for the future. Millennials are up for the challenge, and we’re already making a difference.