In 2021, Buffalo, N.Y., native Jacqueline Gerst was just the fourth employee to join Carbonvert. “Joining a startup, especially one that was truly just starting, felt a bit like jumping off a cliff while assembling your parachute,” she says. “However, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Which career milestone did you reach sooner than you had expected?
“I was in my early 30s when I started having direct reports, which was much sooner than I had thought. My department manager was a huge part of that, not only giving me the opportunity to try my hand with people management, through managing our interns, but also signed me up for ‘soft skills’ classes to help prepare me. This quickly escalated and before I knew it, I was running a team of over 50 people.”
Describe a memorable professional experience.
“Very early in my career, we had Japanese clients and I was part of the team that went to Tokyo to present our findings. I was the only technical woman in the room and was terrified to present my seismic interpretation of their data, but it was my work and my boss said it was mine to present. In the end, our clients were happy with what I had shown. It was one of the first times that I truly felt like I had the confidence to explain my technical work.”
What has been your most challenging project to date?
“The most challenging thing I’ve done is being part of the shift from research to commercial applications that CCS [carbon capture and sequestration] is currently going through. As an early career scientist, most of my work was focused on the basic technical questions, things like how do we track injection reservoir quality rock across an interval that no one ever logged, to which wireline tools would give us the presence of CO2 near the wellbore, to how do we permit these wells. In the last five years, CCS has really moved to a commercial business, albeit one in its infancy. Those of us that have done this for a long time have had to refocus away from pure science and towards economically viable projects.”
What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“One of the most important characteristics is the ability to remove obstacles. I have been blessed in my career to work with a lot of people way smarter than I am and I’ve found that I can help them be their best by making things as easy as possible.”
What advice would you give other young professionals?
“For professionals looking to get into CCS, I would recommend a subtle shift in thinking. The questions you need to answer for a CO2 project aren’t different than more traditional E&P, they just require you to keep at it. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong and don’t be afraid to admit as such.”
What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“I love working in energy. Our carbon emissions, as an entire society, are so great that it really needs to be ‘all hands on deck.’ All the technologies are needed all of the time to make a real difference. I enjoy getting to work in carbon reduction, but with a focus on getting things done in a way that only raises quality of life.”
- I decided I wanted to be a scientist when I was 12 and was fascinated with 7th grade science.
- I am a classically trained pianist and violinist. I do keep up with the piano, but rarely play violin anymore. That being said, my biggest fear going to college was I wouldn’t pass my audition for the school orchestra.
- I love being a mom and have turned into quite the sports mama! My daughter plays catcher for a travel softball team and my son is a competitive gymnast. You can almost always find me at a kids sports event.