Alumnae Spotlight – August 2016

August’s Alumnae Spotlight highlights some of the amazing things our Soror Pragnya Maruwada is up to! Read about her story & the advice she has to share!

What are you doing today and how did joining Kappa Phi Gamma Sorority, Inc. prepare you for this?

Currently, I work as a product manager for an oil and gas service company based in Houston, TX. Prior to this position, I worked as a field consultant and traveled to many remote locations to supervise and make onsite recommendations for hydraulic fracturing services.

My time as a member of Kappa Phi Gamma has helped to prepare me for all of the challenges I currently face in my industry. Kappa Phi Gamma helped to build my confidence and taught me necessary skills to communicate effectively in various groups/situations. The experience also bolstered essential skills like networking, interviewing, and giving presentations to large audiences.

What were your biggest challenges and struggles?

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first joined the industry was being able to prove that a woman could perform the same job or even outperform her male co-workers. As a woman in a primarily male-dominated industry, I had to initially overcome physical challenges by proving that I could perform the same functions as a man while rigging up equipment on location, running pumps, strapping chemicals on top of large tanks, etc. The training process was also demanding in that it required an engineer to not only excel in all the examinations but also in leading a 30 to 40-man crew effectively while problem-solving under pressure. I struggled initially to balance all of these tasks and see myself as a leader, but I was soon able to prove myself and gain the respect of my peers and crew members.

With the most recent downturn in the industry, another challenge I’ve had to face is to remain positive and enthusiastic throughout numerous rounds of layoffs and seeing many of my co-workers and friends let go. I never anticipated that I would encounter such a traumatic turn of events so quickly in my career, but being in a volatile environment has forced me to re-tool and become stronger in areas that I never considered before.

What is your favorite part of your position?

Since I currently hold an office position, my favorite part is to still be able to go out to the field occasionally and consult on hydraulic fracturing jobs. The hours are long (12 hour shifts on days or nights), the locations are small, remote towns (usually with horrible food options), but the thrill of hearing pumps roar and watching real-time downhole pressure responses to the decisions you make on location are oddly satisfying.

What is your work/life balance?

I’ll have to admit, I’m still working to improve my work/life balance. I was always a workaholic which escalated to new levels when the industry took a downturn because it required me to wear multiple hats and perform additional duties. But after hoping for months and months that oil prices would recover, I slowly began to face the fact that these things are simply out of my control. Hence, I have started yoga, volunteering at the local animal shelter, and taking some much-needed time off to spend with family and old friends who I neglected when I was frequently traveling for work. It’s a work in progress and getting better!

What do you perceive are the benefits of joining Kappa Phi Gamma Sorority, Inc.?

I fully believe that if I didn’t join Kappa Phi Gamma, I wouldn’t have been as confident and as well-equipped to handle the challenges that come with working in the real world. Through all of the experiences with the organization, I built the necessary networking and problem-solving skills to not only acquire my current position but also move upward within the corporate ladder. Furthermore, the current actives and alumnae have put together a powerful and expansive network of sisters that are more than willing to go out of their way to help each other.

What advice do you have for women that are attempting to follow your career path?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it! Or that maybe you should follow a more “conventional” path. If you’re passionate and strong-willed, you can accomplish great things and pave the way for other women to follow in your footsteps.

How do you measure your success?

I hope that if I’m still in the industry in 20 years and I still find my job challenging and exciting, I’ll know that I’ve been successful in steering my career path in the right direction.