Katie Mehnert is a Fairygodboss who has learned to turn her “career losses” into accomplishments. It was her initial setbacks that led her to found Pink Petro, a community created for women professionals in the energy industry. The two-time cancer survivor recommends “getting to know yourself well and owning where you shine.”
Fairygodboss of the Week: Katie Mehnert
CEO (Chief Everything Officer) and Founder, Pink Petro
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
KM: I felt a calling. I love my industry and I'm proud of what we do, but so many don’t know or understand its value. I think women are going to change that story. With a significant global focus on the empowerment and progression of women underway in so many industries and a tremendous gap in energy, I docked my pay to $0, withdrew funds from my portfolio, and founded Pink Petro. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, 22 CEOs agreed and signed a call to action to end the energy gender gap. Life's too short to do work that doesn't have meaning. We're taking off with members in over 36 countries with several hundred companies across industry. But I didn't get here without the support of executives at Shell, Halliburton, KPMG, GE, and Jive Software. They've been amazing sponsors.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
KM: My most memorable career achievements were career losses. My first job out of college led to a layoff. It taught me to choose roles that got me close to the customer and business so I could foresee economic down cycles. I also remember the day, years ago, that I was fired. This taught me that smarts don’t cut it. You must build your relationship currency consistently and pick jobs and companies where you can perform at your best. This takes getting to know yourself well and owning where you shine and outsourcing your weaknesses. Those experiences led me to create Pink Petro.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
KM: I'm a two-time cancer survivor. Surviving cancer was a hard journey, but saying goodbye to so many not so fortunate is really hard. My biggest role model, second mom and teacher in high school, Hannah Rucker, recently lost her battle. Delivering her eulogy was bittersweet, but she taught me that "no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up." It's something I live by every day no matter what the challenge ahead of me.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
KM:When I'm not working, I love to work out. Whether it’s to perfect my run or sweat it out at a boot camp, I enjoy a good workout. I also like to travel and spend time with friends and family. Life's too short to not make enough memories!
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
KM: Ronald Reagan. He had an amazing ability to connect with people and brought unity, through respect, at home and abroad. Reagan and I share a love for the art of people. He once said, “You get to know people as individuals. The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.” I wrote to President Reagan when I was 5 because my dream was to be the first female president of the US. Reagan left an impression on me: All people have dreams, and it’s good to get to know people as individuals.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
KM: Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
KM: Home Alone. Yeah, I know. Really? Big sucker for Christmas movies.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
KM: Anything by Seth Godin.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
KM: Hermes scarves are a mainstay for this girl. I used to buy one in every country I traveled to, which tells you a lot about my closet. If I won the lottery, I'd have fun giving it to causes I care about: women and children.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
KM: You can't airbrush personality, so be you and believe in yourself. You got this.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
KM: I love Pink Petro because I'm working with others to create something world class that doesn't exist. It's exciting. Plus, the best part of any job I’ve had is the people and helping make change happen. People make the world run. I get to meet and work with some incredible unsung heroes in my industry that need their stories told. I get a lot out of seeing women succeed and blending genders, nationalities, and generations together to drive an inclusive difference.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.