Taking culture to new heights

Spotlight on Robin Follman-Otta of RA Industries

Member company RA Industries is a family-run aeronautics outfit based in Orange County, California. What shook up the company, however, wasn’t the cutting-edge technology that sends parts to the International Space Station. It was the fact that the reins were taken up by the daughter of pioneer founder Robert Follman.

“Everybody was in an uproar,” Robin Follman-Otta said. “Nobody wanted to make a change. They were devoted to doing things the old-school cowboy style. They didn’t understand the world around them was changing.”

When he decided, in his early 70s, to retire, someone had to be anointed. He himself had worked for his dad’s small business providing parts and machinery to the oil and gas industry. But daughter Robin was trained as a professional opera singer and had spent three decades on the big stage – not a boardroom.

Touring with singer, songwriter, and record producer Andrea Bocelli taught her many skills, but she figured if she was going to make a go of the family business she needed to go back to school. So, about five years ago, she stepped away from music and worked full-time at the company, earning her MBA at Chapman University.

Follman-Otta started changing the way the company did business. Now about half of the employees are women.

She started hiring outside leadership and diversifying the company. She acknowledges making a culture shift wasn’t easy, and many had to get used to her in this new role instead of her brother. Jack Follman is currently the executive VP of manufacturing.

“It was baptism by fire, Follman-Otta said. “They treated me more as a dilettante than an experienced and educated woman.” But the company remains profitable and in business.”

 

Robin exemplifies GRIT – growth, resilience, innovation and talent. For the original profile of her story, go here.

GRIT Awards℠ & Best Energy Workplaces℠

The GRIT Awards honor difference makers in energy- women who lead and the men who champion their progress. Often unsung, these leaders are in the trenches making positive change happen regardless of what recognition may come their way. They take bold steps forward, advancing the sector.

Experience Energy launched the GRIT Awards in 2018 to overwhelming response. Hundreds of applications poured in from across the world. The ceremony attracted not only a live crowd of hundreds in Houston but also, more than 74,000 people online.

For more on how to nominate a person, team or company for our GRIT or Best Workplace Awards, go here.

Speaking up, Fighting Glass Ceilings and Giving Back

For Monica Baistrocchi, the Health, Safety, Environment and Service Quality (HSE&SQ) Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA) Region Manager for Halliburton, safety is her No. 1 priority. Monica, who was honored with a GRIT Award, oversees about 5,000 employees, both directly and indirectly, in the ESSA Region.

Monica’s mission, in her own words, is to “send every employee home safe every day through inspiring them to do the right thing and adopt safe behaviors when no one is watching!”

Read below for more from our conversation with Monica:

EXPERIENCE ENERGY: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

 MONICA BAISTROCCHI: In my previous role as Continental Europe Area Manager, we faced a dramatic increase in the number of vehicular accidents at work. Management called the HSE department for action and challenged me to get to ZERO recordable vehicle accidents.

So, I designed and implemented the Safe Driving Campaign, which involved all management levels and all employees in the area. We reduced the RVIR to ZERO in one year. It has been over four and a half years since we had a recordable vehicle incident in Continental Europe!

EE: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

MB: I made the mistake of not speaking directly and openly to my manager about my career. This resulted in him choosing someone else to cover a role that I wanted. My Manager then changed, I had that conversation right away with my new Manager, and I was recently promoted to the role of HSE&SQ, ESSA Region Manager for Halliburton.

EE: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

MB: The most rewarding part of my career was in 2013-2015 when I was nominated to participate in the BLD I-II-III training (Business Leadership Development) and PLEP (President Leadership Excellence Program).

Through the program, I was exposed to high-level education for executives and learned the functioning of a global company like Halliburton. I met the Halliburton Executive Committee and worked on team projects with the colleagues also that were selected for the same program together with me.

The company selects 20 to 30 high potential leaders per year for PLEP, and only five of them happened to be women during my class, so I was truly honored to be part of that program!

EE: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?

MB: My gritty role model worked at Halliburton for over 20 years and fought the “glass ceiling” for years. She would speak up, report misconducts, create alliances, expand her network, smile a lot, have fun and establish strong relationships with women around her. She was my role model!

EE: Which community service activities/organizations have you been associated with and in what capacity?

MB: I’ve been a Scout Leader for many years and learned that one of the most important things for a Leader is to serve others with joy, passion and care. To help them be safe and realize their potential gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I’m now a volunteer in the Caritas Community that helps poor women with little children in my hometown, and I have a mission as a safety manager: “Send every employee home safe every day through inspiring them to do the right thing and adopt safe behaviors when no one is watching!”.

GRIT Awards℠ & Best Energy Workplaces℠

The GRIT Awards honor difference makers in energy- women who lead and the men who champion their progress. Often unsung, these leaders are in the trenches making positive change happen regardless of what recognition may come their way. They take bold steps forward, advancing the sector.

Experience Energy launched the GRIT Awards in 2018 to overwhelming response. Hundreds of applications poured in from across the world. The ceremony attracted not only a live crowd of hundreds in Houston but also, more than 74,000 people online.

For more on how to nominate a person, team or company for our GRIT or Best Workplace Awards, go here.