Recently I spoke to an impressive group of women leaders attending the Women's Energy Network North Texas leadership conference. As I looked out on this successful group of women, I couldn't help but think how proud June Brooks (pictured here) would have been. I was privileged to know Mrs. Brooks in the 1970's when I was a young woman coming of age in the oil patch town of Ardmore, Oklahoma. An accomplished speaker who proudly introduced herself as a "landmaam," she was the only woman delegate to the World Petroleum Congress held in Tokyo in 1975. For those not familiar with the term, a landmanrefers to men and women who handle the business end of oil, gas and mineral production. In the 1970's, most landmen were in fact men. So back then knowing a landmaam, much less one who had travelled from Ardmore all the way to Japan, was important to aspiring young women like me.
Today, more women have entered the energy industry, but few hold top leadership positions. That's why it mattered deeply that Lisa Stewart gave a good part of her day to speak to the Women's Energy Network leadership group. Stewart, a petroleum engineer by training, Founder and CEO of Sheridan Production Partners and former President of El Paso Exploration & Production, spoke with wisdom, humility, humor and grace. (How could you expect anything less from a woman who named her company after her yellow labrador retriever?) But what mattered more than her words was her presence. This is a woman who has a lot on her mind at the moment, including how to invest almost $3 billion in capital. She could have met with the group by video conference or rushed in and out. But she didn't do that. So her presence sent a message that was more important than any words she, or those of us following her at the podium, could express:
You can do it. Your leadership matters. You are someone I'm willing to invest in.
Really the same message June Brooks sent back in 1975.
So thanks to June Brooks and thanks to Lisa Stewart. I think your investment is going to pay off.