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[Editor's note: Influential Women In Energy 2023 is a supplement to the February 2023 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine. Subscribe here.]

One of the most influential pieces of advice Alina Parast received early in her career was to “focus on what you can control or influence.” This advice keeps her grounded in an ever-changing and evolving energy industry and throughout her daily life.

Born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, Parast came to the U.S. with her parents when she was a teenager, the family having sought and been granted political asylum. Not one to sit back and relax, Parast took that control and sped through her academic career, enrolling in college at the age of 16 and earning first a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s and doctorate.

She began her career as a manufacturing engineer with AT&T, but her true passion came when she joined the energy/water industry and started what would become an accomplished career with ChampionX, then called Nalco. She now holds the position of senior vice president and CIO, where she continues to focus on the things she can control, ensuring that the solutions she provides make a positive impact.

Finding the chemistry

“ChampionX (Nalco at that time) was the first energy/water industrial company I joined in 2007 in Naperville, Ill. Chemistry was behind the innovative solutions that the team at Nalco offered to energy customers around the world. Chemistry in products and services and chemistry among people who worked together, shared knowledge and empowered each other was the motivating factor that inspired me to accept my first leadership role in the oil and gas industry. In summary, my first visit to Nalco made up my mind that I wanted to join both the industry and the company.”

Once in a lifetime

“The most memorable, impactful and challenging program [throughout my career] by far was to help stand up ChampionX (3B+) ... It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Every single aspect of technology and business operations needed to be considered, designed, deployed and supported in a very short time. All of this needed to be planned and executed during COVID-19 pandemic in a virtual global environment. Nothing could come close to this experience again. It felt truly like raising a roof together with the most wonderful and the smartest people in the energy industry under the most challenging circumstances and making it a success.”

Critical components

“I am a technology leader, and my passion for the advancement of technology that enables the oil and gas industry to drive productivity, sustainability and innovation is at the core of what motivates me every day. In the past few years, the oil and gas industry has been on the forefront of technological advancements. Technology is one of the most critical components that will enable the oil and gas industry to move through energy transition and come out as a winner.”

“Nothing could come close to this experience again. It felt truly like raising a roof together with the most wonderful and the smartest people in the energy industry under the most challenging circumstances and making it a success.”—Alina Parast

Making a positive impact

“I spent a year doing this research on what motivates and retains women in technology roles. The results of the research were very surprising—women in technology roles want to see the evidence that their contributions deliver a positive impact on the world around them. This is what ultimately motivates them to stay and continue their career paths as engineers and technology leaders. How relevant to the energy industry today! Leaders and employees in the oil and gas industry must be able to see that their efforts make a true positive impact in the world.”

Three more things

1. Between my husband, our three children and myself, my family was born on four different continents and can speak five different languages among us.

2. While I have a doctorate degree, I never finished high school. Thanks to a number of very supportive people, I was accepted to Northeastern University in Boston when I was 16.

3. As I progressed through my career, I ultimately chose a technology path, which I love (now being a CIO for an energy company.) While in college, however, I found computer science impersonal and dry and switched to engineering. How ironic that today, what I do combines both of these disciplines.

25 Influential Women in Energy

View the full list of this year’s honorees at Hart Energy LIVE.