Jackie Strange Palmer

CEO, GeoVision; and President, DataLog Geological Services, Houston
Palmer, Jackie

Starting a business was just an idea in the back of Jackie Palmer’s mind until it was pushed to the front when she was laid off (on her honeymoon, no less). Now, as a geologist who employs geologists, she derives the most pride from job creation and providing career paths for her staff. “My short- and long-term goals are the same—to try to stop the devaluing of geologists in the industry.”

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“I entered the oil and gas industry completely accidentally. My resume was found by a mud logging company on Monster.com (this may be 40 under 40, but I still feel old typing that sentence!) and a couple weeks later I drove from Gainesville, Fla., to Waynesburg, Pa., to work my first night shift.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.
“The best days I’ve had are not really mine to share—they’ve been when one of the employees have succeeded and I just got to shine next to them.”

What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“There is only one way to earn the respect of others—by out-working them. If you work harder than everyone on your team, then even if they don’t like you, they will respect you as a leader.”

How have you exercised leadership to help shape your company?
“I really try to just make the space for my employees to showcase their talents. Think of it like this: what if, instead of posting for a job, you built a position around a person’s talents? That’s what we try to do at DataLog and GeoVision.”

Who is your mentor?
“I wouldn’t be who I am without Ernest Fuhrmann. I don’t just mean GeoVision wouldn’t be where it is without his business acumen—I genuinely mean who I am as a person. He is not that much older than me, but if you ask me who I want to be when I grow up, my answer is Ernie.”

What professional advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?
“Don’t just pitch an idea—do the idea. In this industry, words matter less than actions.”

What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“Oil and gas to me is all about the hustle. It’s one of the only industries where hard work directly correlates to results. In the public sector and many private industries, it’s so difficult to enact change. I feel like I’m effective and able to innovate at DataLog and GeoVision—and I also think that would be stifled anywhere else.”

What do you think young industry members have to offer that is unique to them?
“Young industry members have been through more downturns at the beginning of their careers than a lot of our predecessors. Instead of being bitter about being numbers on a layoff spreadsheet, we’ve celebrated the freedom that comes from it. We are a very dynamic workforce that has perfected the art of pivoting.”

Which transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“I would like to speak to the transformation needed for geologists in the industry. We know more about the reservoir, about the rocks, about the field than most other professions; but we have pigeonholed ourselves to exploration. We must become more active in all aspects of the process—predrilling, drilling and post-drilling (completions) to thrive in the future.”

Three More Things
  1. I’m mostly busy at DataLog and GeoVision.
  2. I moderate Taylor Swift fan chat rooms.
  3. I enjoy my collection of humorous taxidermy.