WSPA Young Professionals Series: Part 7

Throughout California, innovative energy companies are working with talented young professionals dedicated to a safe and sustainable energy future. As in every profession today, young professionals choose to work for those companies where they can make a difference. In this case, our young professionals want to do work they value and enjoy and at the same time, better their local communities, environments and public health.  That’s the best kind of work to do.

Ashley Davis, a Georgia-born electrical engineer, works for Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers. Based at the Aera Belridge Producing Complex in Southern California, she focuses on managing electrical capital projects that upgrade and improve the site’s electrical distribution system.

I joined the energy industry so I could take part in building an energy future that values community, diversity and safety. I came in with eyes wide open because I saw the opportunity and wanted to help.

Growing up, I didn’t know much about the industry. I didn’t see an oil well until I was 20 years old. In high school, when I was preparing for college, I was encouraged to apply for the Fort Valley State University Cooperative Development Energy Program (CDEP) Scholarship; that program’s goal is to increase the number of minorities and women in the energy industry. Through CDEP, I was introduced to several oil and gas companies, including Aera. All of them spoke about their commitment to the students in the program, but Aera showed it through their actions. The company not only donated money but frequently visited our campus recruiting an eclectic group of students for an internship program.

After I graduated, I chose to work at Aera because I was impressed by how passionate Aera employees are about producing oil and gas in a way that not only benefits their community, but our surrounding communities too. I was also impressed with Aera’s focus on people, environmental safety, community involvement, diversity, and work-life balance.

Since working at Aera, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many of our community events. We donate backpacks and supplies to children in underserved schools; we raise money and collect gifts for local families in need during the holidays and support Honor Flights, a non-profit organization that flies U.S. veterans to Washington, D.C to visit memorial sites. I’m super proud to participate in all of these projects.

As they promised from the beginning, Aera shows a daily commitment to diversity and inclusion. I’m an active member of the Aera Black Employee Network (ABEN), where I was recently elevated to Vice Chair; the members are like family to me. This group has been especially helpful supporting the transition from Georgia to California.

When it comes to health and safety, we treat environmental regulations, public health standards and employee safety with meticulousness and urgency. Every Tuesday at 6:30am, every employee in the facility gets together to discuss compliance standards, updated regulations, and safety requirements.  All Aera employees have “stop-work” authority if we feel that something is unsafe or non-compliant, and we are respectfully encouraged to use it. Employees that flag safety or compliance issues are recognized and applauded, not ignored or reprimanded.  In short, a large portion of our day-to-day operations are dedicated to ensuring that Aera’s operations are safe, progressive, and environmentally-friendly.

I’m a young African-American woman.  I’m proud to approach the big challenges of today and tomorrow alongside my colleagues at Aera.  We chose this career.  We believe in what we do.  It’s time California recognize what we do and how we are doing it.  Today, the oil and gas industry is innovative, progressive and forward thinking.  We are dedicated to creating a sustainable energy future for everyone.

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