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How to become a career focused with Yogashri Pradhan!

Pensatta is a community for resilient women and in our first blog, we are sharing the story of Yogashri Pradhan. She is a petroleum (reservoir) engineer for Endeavor Energy Resources, LP, and a very active SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) member. She is also a Chair in Women in Energy Committee. 

I’ve been following Yogashri on her LinkedIn for quite a while, and what inspires me the most is her ability to balance her work and life while she is focused on her career. I’m so happy to have her here for an interview!

Take us through the journey of how you got here:

I learned about petroleum engineering after attending an all-girls engineering camp hosted by a University of Houston. I then competed in speech and debate competitions in high school, where I learned about the business side of oil and gas. During my junior year, I learned petroleum engineering as a major that exists in universities, so I decided to pursue that in university. I was also selected to participate in a gifted and talented mentorship program in my school district, where I write a research paper on a topic, I am interested in my career choice. I then sent my research paper to potential mentors in the Houston area and found my first mentor through cold-emailing. My first mentor introduced me to oil and gas, SPE,(Society of Petroleum Engineering), and the importance of networking and keeping my technical skills sharp. He also offered me an internship during my spring semester of high school and summer before university. I built this momentum throughout the university by volunteering for SPE, competing in student competitions SPE offered, and interacting with industry professionals. When I graduated from university, I found ways to volunteer for SPE remotely since I was working in the field for my first job. I knew I wanted to contribute to SPE and keep in contact with industry professionals. My volunteerism in the organization helped me meet professionals that pointed me to resources or the right leads for job opportunities when I was in transition. Today, I volunteer for SPE at the local, regional, and international levels. I also participate in professional and technical events.

What kind of discipline and habits have you earned or practiced during your career?

I made sure I networked regularly or volunteered for a professional society to practice my communication skills. I also made sure I kept up to speed on technical skills or technologies by reading petroleum engineering publications or taking short courses. Finally, I made sure I had a list of goals I wanted to accomplish and a system for each one.

 Have you had a mentor or role model along the way?

I had multiple mentors along the way. I am fortunate to have my first mentor in high school, who introduced me to SPE and the oil and gas industry. Afterward, I had mentors during my internships, through my SPE networking, and on the job. I have several role models in the oil and gas industry: Shauna Noonan (2020 SPE President and Chief of Artificial Lift in OXY), Susan Dio (BP America), and Vicki Hollub (OXY)

Have you had any set back in your life that you took advantage of it and changed it to strength?

I was laid off twice within three years working in the oil and gas industry. I took those opportunities to invest all my energy in networking, learning new skills, meeting someone in the industry every day, and taking on various leadership positions when volunteering. I used my driven personality and my networking, public speaking, and technical skills as strengths. As a result, I received leads, interviews, industry awards, and, most importantly, job offers (the first one was in a week. the Second one was before I was able to finish my previous role).

How is being a woman in the Oil Industry especially in the oilfield?

I can speak for my experience only, as every individual has different experiences in the industry and in the field. I knew I had to be resilient in the oil and gas industry because I observed the cyclical nature early. I was used to being one of few women in classes, events, or meetings, but that neither surprised me nor I did I take it negatively. I had positive experiences because as someone who did not grow up in a family in oil and gas, many professionals were willing to help, mentor, and point me to resources so I could be professionally and technically competent. I had similar experiences in the field- people on location are willing to teach and help you as long as you keep an open mind, are respectful, and are humble. I was never afraid to ask for help and I was able to gain trust with people on location to supervise jobs on my own.

With COVID-19 and Oil Price situation, how did you stay flexible and focused on your goals?

I am fortunate to have a current role where I can complete tasks remotely, so I was able to complete my goals efficiently. I was able to depend on virtual platforms to communicate with my team members and other industry professionals. I found a silver lining here because I could attend many webinars (learning opportunities) internationally without having to take the time to attend a live event.

 During the pandemic, did you organize your day differently at home? Were any efficiencies unlocked? Will you apply these efficiencies to improve your home/work life going forward? 

I did notice that when I worked from home, I found myself working longer hours. I had to have someone tell me to stop working at the time when I usually leave from work. I also had to have a reminder to go outside once in a while or start my car so that the battery does not die.

An efficiency I found is that I found more focus when I listened to oil and gas podcasts while working at home, helping me eliminate noise from my fiance’s conference meetings. Since we are back at the office now at reduced and rotating capacity, I use my noise-canceling headphones at work to listen to oil and gas podcasts to drown out conversations outside of the office.

 As a woman on the go, how do you balance your work and life?

I prioritize tasks that a) pertain to my goals b) require more focus time than others c) require my contribution if I am the point person. I found that if a task, event, or simply quality time aligns with my values or is something that I truly want, I naturally made time.

This all starts with self-care, of course. I found that I am productive or perform optimally with a full night’s rest, proper nutrition, and physical activity. I am a night owl, and these habits took a long time for me to adopt even if I logically knew they were important.

I know you are very active in the society of petroleum engineering, attending the conference, being a moderator, have you ever carried extra bags for your shoes?

Yes. I carry flats in my bag whenever I am wearing heels to an event. I switch between the two depending on if I am presenting or having to walk around significantly. I adopted this habit when I competed for speech and debate competitions in high school and speech competitions in university.

In the end, how many items are you carrying in your bag? Is an organized bag help you to carry fewer items but be more efficient from morning to evening?

I have quite a few items in my bag, and admittedly I need to reorganize it. I agree that an organized bag helps me to carry less items but be more efficient from morning to evening.

 Thank you Yogashari for your time and sharing your story with us, if you want to know more about petroleum engineering reach out to her through LinkedIn


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