KBR Inc.

12/02/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/02/2020 20:11

Recognizing Women's Impact on Business and Leadership

Monica Ruiz joined KBR in 2000 and currently heads the Global Procurement and Supply Chain for the Technology Solutions Business Unit for Proprietary Equipment (PEQ) and Catalyst. She also serves on the ASPIRE Board as an Advisor.

From Agriculture to Industrialization to the Digital Economy we are living in now, the human race has more to learn and grow from a balanced workforce than ever before. Our society has come a long way, 50% of Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees are earned by women; 50% of the global workforce are women and 29% of senior roles in companies are held by women. So why is there still a gap?

I joined KBR in 2000 as a Procurement Specialist directly from the University of Houston, starting my career as an Expediter on an international multi-billion-dollar megaproject. I often found myself the only female and the youngest in the room. But it didn't stop me. I actually saw that as an opportunity to learn and grow. From the very beginning, KBR empowered me to take ownership of the direction of my career. In just six years, I was leading the procurement for KBR's Instrumentation Commodity Group where I learned critical lessons for my future as a leader. One of those important lessons is the acceptance that mistakes happen, and what distinguishes effective leaders is how they embrace and learn from those mistakes. I credit mentorship and sponsorship by key decision-makers as contributory factors that helped me achieve my goal of becoming a Project Procurement Manager in 2010.

Later in 2012, with the recommendation of my past managers, I was asked to assume a challenging role and stretch assignment in the Technology group, although I had limited experience in the field at that time. The courageous decision to take that challenge propelled my career to the level where I'm today.

As a woman and a mother of three, working in the oil and gas industry comes with its own fair share of difficulties. The participation of women in the industry is lacking, and it starts from education. Most students who pursue a degree in STEM are men and it continues to be that way. We need to encourage and empower women to say, 'Yes I can do that too.' According to www.catalyst.org, only 22% of the industry workforce are women. Of the 22%, 27% are entry level; 17% hold position in a managerial role; 16% hold a higher management position, and then those percentages decline the higher we go into executive management. We must help to change those numbers.

Organizations must lead the way to help create real and lasting change. I am proud that these conversations around lasting change are happening at KBR and the progress we are making to develop and train the next generation of female leaders.

Inclusivity and diversity will make a difference not only in our work, but to the entire world. The advice I give women at all levels include:

  • Trust in yourself and step out of your comfort zones.
  • Be your own biggest advocate and encourage others along the way.
  • Have the courage to speak up about creating a more diverse and inclusive work culture. Organizations are focused heavily on cultivating sustainable practices which includes their workforce. Be a champion for change whether managing a team or contributing to a project - you have a voice that can make a difference.
  • Build a good team. I would not be where I am if it were not for the people around me. Trust in the people around you, empower them and in turn you will also be empowered. This applies not only to work but also with family members, trusted friends and neighbors. It is such a good feeling to have a strong and supportive team behind you.
  • Create a work-life balance that works for you. This is one area I personally struggled with the most. The perception that I had to do both, and I had to them perfectly, is what held me back in some places. You do not have to be perfect at both. And now more so than ever, with the global pandemic at large, as we work remotely from our homes, we as women can try to better balance our personal and professional life without compromising on the other. Remember your roles outside of work, do not be anything that you are not. I am a mom, with that comes responsibility, don't make excuses for it, don't be ashamed about it.

Women play a profound role in the workforce today and the progress we continue to make to close the gap depends on the work of the individual. KBR has created various resource group for members to connect with each other. For example, ASPIRE, which is committed to the development of women and the promotion of gender diversity for the benefit of employees and KBR. The aim is to build a culture of inclusion and respect which enhances team performance and makes KBR a more efficient business. Inclusivity and diversity will make a difference not only in our work but to the entire world.