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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.]

When Megan Pearl was working on her doctorate in chemistry from the University of South Carolina, she thought she would become a forensic scientist. But a loss of funding from the Department of Justice opened up an opportunity for her to work on a project developing optical filters that would soon lead to an accomplished technology career with Halliburton and later Locus Bio-Energy Solutions.

“The possibility for innovation in oil and gas was and is a major driving force for me,” Pearl said. “To chisel away at the frontier of the unknown keeps me invested in this industry.”

Pearl lives in The Woodlands, Texas, with her husband (a chemist with Halliburton); her three children, Liam, Miya and Maverick; her three dogs, Max, Norman and Wilbur; and her cat, Harvey.

Laying the foundation

“After only nine months into my first job, I relocated to Rio de Janeiro. The next two and a half years would be some of the most formative for me professionally and personally. Although I was working for a Fortune 500 company with over 80,000 employees, I was one of the first members on the technology team in Brazil. I had the honor of building a team, a lab, a technology center and a reputation. I learned patience, adaptation, acceptance and perseverance. Perhaps the most important skill I learned was that I needed to trust my team because I could not control or do everything.”

Embracing humility

“I started both my career in oil and gas and every role in my career feeling completely lost. These transitions can be incredibly scary but can also present an opportunity to teach you how strong and capable you really are. I had one of these opportunities five years ago when I took a leadership role in a new organization.

“I went from an expert in one field to a novice in another and had to embrace humility as a normal mode of operation. But with persistence, reading and asking a lot of questions, one day I realized that I had learned enough to challenge the experts I was working alongside. It was a real moment of triumph for me and a moment that gave me the confidence to know that I could do scary things and come out on top.”

Defeating the doubt

“My previous role as director of technology is a significant milestone for me. Leaving my first big girl company after 10 critically formative years was a difficult decision and something I hadn’t even considered when my husband saw a job posting on LinkedIn. He knew the role was made for me, but my doubt kept me from applying. Like so many women, I poked holes in my experience until I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough.

“I went from an expert in one field to a novice in another and had to embrace humility as a normal mode of operation.”—Megan Pearl

“When I finally settled into my new company, I realized that I was wrong to doubt myself. Not only was I entirely capable, but I was deserving. Had it not been for my husband’s persuasion, I would have let this opportunity pass by and continued to wonder when it would be my turn.”

Taking ownership

“Throughout my career, I have had several mentors, both formally and informally. Some of the best advice I received, however, was at my first performance review. My manager looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘I’ll give you a rope. You can decide to climb it or let it go.’ I left that review in shock, not realizing how that moment would shape the rest of my career. Once I fully internalized his statement, I came to understand that my successes and failures will be up to me. I have to take ownership of my own career—no one else will do it for me.”

Staying honest

“[My advice to young professionals is] do not be afraid to admit you don’t know something. There is a lot of respect that can be earned by displaying humility.

“Remember that no one knows everything, and great leaders are great because they surround themselves with people of diverse skill sets, people who compliment their own knowledge as well as the rest of the team.”

Three more things

1. My childhood career aspiration was to be a coroner.

2. I was a collegiate competitive cheerleader.

3. I’m the first person in my extended family to graduate from college.

25 Influential Women in Energy

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