Diana Hopkins is Vice President, Power Systems, Electrification + Advanced Power Solutions Division, Caterpillar Inc. and an Energy Workforce Energy Technology Committee Member. She recently shared her thoughts on women in oil and gas.
Energy Workforce: Why did you get involved in oil and gas?
Diana Hopkins: Caterpillar machines and power systems serve many industries, among them oil and gas. Not long after joining Caterpillar as a validation engineer, I was assigned to support a major engine emissions program, and much of my work was focused on validating systems on oil and gas customer worksites. I loved the field visits to customer sites to learn about how our engines, transmissions and generator sets were being used, and I especially loved the customer interaction. I went to work in Caterpillar’s Oil & Gas division shortly thereafter so I could work more closely with customers to help solve their problems using technologies that Caterpillar was developing.
EW: What are the major changes you’ve seen during your time in the industry?
DH: The cyclicality of the oil and gas industry over the past 10-20 years has changed the way many of our customers do business. So have exhaust emission reduction requirements. The technology investment and pace of technology change in response has been extraordinary. The energy transition is driving more change for the industry, and significant opportunity. Another marked change I’ve witnessed in the industry is the growing number of very capable women in leadership roles, at industry conferences and in the oil patch. It’s inspiring to see, and I think the industry will benefit in the long term.
EW: What do you think companies could do to retain female employees?
DH: The most important thing, in my opinion, is having the right leader and a supporting structure around women in the workplace. Many of the opportunities I had early in my career came through my leader taking a proactive role in my development and advocating on my behalf. That’s part of the equation to attract and retain top female talent. A workplace culture that encourages inclusion and celebrates diverse perspectives is another part. Coaching and mentoring are yet another.
I also sought and built supportive relationships with women and men in leadership roles and those relationships continue to enrich my work life and present opportunities for my personal and professional growth. And finally, external leadership training opportunities are so important to developing business acumen and networking with peers across industries.
EW: Do you have a mentor, and if so, how has mentorship helped you towards your career goals?
DH: My leaders and my peers provide a support structure that I can lean on and build from, and I value that tremendously. Mentorship can be extremely valuable for employees rising through the ranks of the organization. I’ve also seen very effective reverse-mentorships where senior leaders are paired with someone early in their career to share perspectives and foster generational awareness.
EW: What advice would you give women thinking about a career in oil and gas?
DH: First, no matter your skillsets or interests, there is an opportunity for you within the oil and gas industry. The energy transition is only increasing those opportunities. Oil and gas is playing a key role in the energy transition now, and it will continue to play an important role as we develop sustainable solutions for our future energy needs.
Second, your career development is in your hands. Seek opportunities to grow and learn, and when you are given a unique opportunity grab it and do your very best – the rewards will come, professionally and personally. And third, strive to leave your team and organization better than you found it. Women are change-makers in industry – seek your path to effect positive change and bring others along with you.
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