As the only female partner in the Tulsa office of Grant Thornton, Hilary Penrod uses that position to bring awareness to gender inequality in the oil and gas industry. With a career in auditing for 16 years, she has seen firsthand the need for diversification in the energy workforce and strives to be a driver of that change.
“Being the only woman partner in my office presents unique opportunities for me to bring a different perspective on issues impacting our business, our people and our clients,” Penrod said. “I also see this as an opportunity to continue to strengthen and grow our pipeline of women partner candidates in our firm and, specifically, our office.”
She has been able to find motivation when presented with challenging situations as a woman in the industry.
“When I felt intimidated or nervous because only one other person, or sometimes no one else, looked like me during board meetings, I used this as motivation to represent myself and my teams as experts and to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of the issues being discussed,” she said.
“During my last year in college, it became obvious to me in my advanced oil and gas accounting class at Oklahoma State University with Dr. Charlotte Wright that the energy industry was for me. She was a small-framed but fierce woman who was highly accredited (e.g., she wrote the textbook we used), extremely intelligent and very experienced. She was a true inspiration to me.”
“My largest career milestone so far is definitely my admission into the Grant Thornton LLP partnership in 2018. When I entered public accounting, this was my goal, and after every busy season, I made the decision to stick with it. I thought it would feel like I had finally reached the top, but it seems like it is just like climbing Everest. You have to make it to the various stopping camps, settle in and then start the climb again. Additional goals I have set for myself are to continue to grow my network of clients and prospects, increasing my firm’s revenue growth and creating more growth opportunities for our employees to learn, develop and grow in their careers.”
“My firm provides amazing opportunities for continuing education and professional education, so I am never short of reaching my continuing professional education minimum requirements. But I certainly learn, understand and grow most as a professional when I am the individual preparing and delivering the training. Being a part of my firm has provided me opportunities to observe and learn from the best. I try to mimic the behaviors others display, learn from them but adapt it to my personal style.”
“There have been countless times in my career when one of my most treasured strengths was necessary—resiliency.”—Hilary Penrod
Future industry transformations
“Increasing diversity of all sorts—in an individual’s backgrounds, ethnicity, culture, color, race and religion—is the key to transformation and growth. Today’s leaders need to embrace and encourage diversity and understand individuals will not always look like them or display all of the same success attributes and strengths they have, as well as look for and cultivate talent in new ways and previously untapped locations. Likewise, future leaders of tomorrow need to have the confidence and vision that they don’t need to look like their current leaders to make it to the top.”
Passionate about the industry
“The oil and gas industry is constantly evolving and adapting, no matter the reason. Industry players figure out a way to evolve and to thrive and still create opportunities in the toughest of times. There are so many changes, transactions and evolution in this industry, and this keeps the work I do in serving our clients and bringing values and insight to management and shareholders interesting and engaging. The importance being placed on ESG is a major opportunity to bring value to shareholders, the community at large and it is exciting to be a part of the evolution for this type of transparent and informative reporting of non-financial information for corporate responsibility.”
Advice for young professionals
“Become an expert in your field. Be the person that understands the details and the why, so that people go to you when they need answers. But be humble, collaborate with and learn from others, and ask for help when you’re unsure. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and learn everything you can from them. Also, everyone’s career path and track is going to look different. Just like in CrossFit, there are going to be stronger and faster people than you; try to do YOUR best, and focus on your own development and progression.”
THREE MORE THINGS
Click here for a full list of “25 Influential Women in Energy” honorees for 2022.
2022-08-04 - Today’s featured 25 Influential Women in Energy honoree is Anna Scott, co-founder and chief science officer of Project Canary based in Austin, Texas.
2022-06-15 - In an exclusive interview with Hart Energy, Travis Wofford, chair of Houston’s Corporate Department at Baker Botts, discusses what ESG investing for the energy sector looks like in the next few years.
2022-07-22 - Industry executives gathered at the IPAA’s annual meeting to tell why fossil fuels are still important, and why investors are taking notice once again.
2022-07-08 - One-fourth of the total global hydrogen demand—about 150 megatonnes per year—could be met through international trade, the International Renewable Energy Agency says.
2022-06-10 - “Exxon made more money than God this year,” Biden said in a speech to dockworkers and union representatives at the Port of Los Angeles. U.S. oil companies are not using profits to drill more but to buy back stock, he added.