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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.]

A third-generation energy professional, Yuliya Olsen is the manager of the North America oil and gas practice in McKinsey & Co.’s global energy and materials practice and a core leader within the organization’s North America oil and gas sector. She is part of a group that develops strategy in tackling pressing industry issues to deliver analysis underpinned by an understanding and appreciation for clients’ fundamental business aspirations. In her current role, she advises energy investors and leading oil and gas companies across the value chain from E&P to fuel retail on strategy and operations, helping them navigate business cycles and unlock their full performance potential. 

Before joining McKinsey, Olsen worked in workforce strategy and executive recruitment in the energy investment and oil and gas sectors. In the course of her career, she has focused on developing extensive expertise in regulatory and policy matters and today is helping companies determine how best to achieve growth that is underpinned by sustainability and inclusivity.

Born into energy

“Both of my grandparents worked in some of the largest coal mines in Ukraine and one of my grandfathers led the development of the mining industry in Southeast Asia (in the 1960s), which expanded access to modern energy to local communities. My mother started her career in coal mining and then switched to natural gas. My father worked in the oil and gas equipment sector, which ultimately led us to immigrate to the energy capital of the world—Houston. Since I was a child, I’ve always had the utmost respect for the oil and gas industry, and I don’t think there is a more fascinating sector than energy.”

"There is constant guilt of not living up to my expectations of two competing ideal types: the ideal mother and family caregiver and the devoted career woman. I am perpetually learning how to balance these two competing ideals." — Yuliya Olsen

It starts at home

“For me, personally, the biggest challenge as a woman in the oil and gas industry is finding the balance between motherhood, a demanding dual-career oil and gas household and taking care of myself. There is constant guilt of not living up to my expectations of two competing ideal types: the ideal mother and family caregiver and the devoted career woman. I am perpetually learning how to balance these two competing ideals. However, I am fortunate to work for an employer that has incredible maternity leave and benefits, as well as colleagues and clients that have been and still are extremely supportive. But at the end of the day, it all starts at home, and I could not be doing what I am doing today if it wasn’t for my husband and my parents, who have been the catalysts in supporting my personal and career goals.”

Energy is the key

“I think, as a sector, we need to win back the hearts and minds of students, communities and future generations and educate them on the role oil and gas plays today and will play as we transition to lower carbon. We also need to ensure we are getting the best talent to help solve many of the problems in our sector and the world.”

“Globally we are facing complex crises: possible economic recession and energy supply shortages. We need to work together to create a recovery strategy—and the oil and gas sector is and will be key in addressing many of the issues.”

This is our chance

“Though in some ways the world has become more inclusive over the past few decades, billions of people still live in countries that could do far better on such measures as energy poverty, life expectancy, child mortality and gender parity in labor force participation.”
“As a sector, we have the privilege of shaping the future economy and environment, and this is our chance to lead by example and foster a long-lasting and equitable society. Achieving sustainable and inclusive growth will not be an easy feat, and it will require the support of our industry leaders, policymakers, technology, innovation, capital and education.”

Three more things

1. I speak four languages.
2. Inspired by the show “Treehouse Masters,” my husband and I designed and built a two-story livable treehouse at our ranch (with the help of only family and friends).
3. I am PADI certified (scuba diving).

25 Influential Women in Energy

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