Introducing Maitri Erwin
GRIT Awards℠ winner Maitri Erwin is a talented geosciences and technology teams leader who has worked for some of the biggest names in the energy business. As a graduate student, she carried out summer assignments at BP America and Mobil Technology. After earning her second master’s degree, she began working for Shell Exploration & Production, contributing her skills as a geophysicist to several upstream projects in the Gulf of Mexico. She is now Manager of Global Exploration New Ventures Latin America at CNOOC International where she worked her way up from exploration geophysicist to technical team leader to her current position as the technical and administrative leader of a team that was formed to pave the company’s way into Latin America and the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, she’s also an active member of professional associations. She serves on the board of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Foundation, was first vice president of the Geophysical Society of Houston, and is a founding member and former chair of Women’s Network division of the Society of Exploration Geologists (SEG). Additionally, she gives generously of her time to the University of Wisconsin, where she earned two graduate degrees, acting as a senior advisor to the Department of Geosciences’ Board of Visitors.
Maitri is a leader – not just because of her credentials and qualifications, but also because of her ability to make the most of her own innate qualities. She describes herself as “an unabashed extrovert” and says one of her chief joys is fostering the talent of young co-workers.
“I love people and helping them realize and bring out their best possible selves. Be it at work or in my committed involvement with the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Women’s Network and Geophysical Society of Houston, it is so rewarding to watch a young professional discover their abilities, take the baton that was passed to them, and run with it. There is no greater feeling than knowing you contributed to someone else’s success.”
Maitri’s emphasis on empathy, enthusiasm, and empowerment serve her well in her current position where she leads the technical team tasked with evaluating exploration opportunities in Latin America, while also serving as the representative of CNOOC’s Global Exploration group in Houston. When she first took the position, she said, she had to build her new unit from the ground up while also securing the trust of every member.
“At the time, the infrastructure for such a team did not exist, and I was faced with creating from scratch technical and administrative work plans, and budgets. A complicating factor was being a younger woman of color in a new managerial role, which brought with it the added work of having to establish my ability and authority at almost every turn. Professional persistence, genuine care for my team and the support and trust from my own leaders was how I overcame it — and still do on a regular basis.”
She also said that taking a wrong turn on the career track had helped her realize the full extent of her skills – not just as a scientist, but as a manager. “Six years into my career, I briefly stepped away from the world of oil and gas to live closer to my family and to try my hand at research and business development for a small geospatial engineering company,” she explained.
“While I soon discovered that the job was not a fit for my skills and personality, the variety of business opportunities that I managed revealed that I am not just a scientist, but one with commercial and managerial aptitude. Returning to the oil and gas industry soon after, I was essentially reinvented, with a renewed sense of purpose and fresh career goals and aspirations.”
We look forward to hearing more about Maitri as she moves ahead with her career. She’s not just pushing CNOOC International forward, but also nurturing the next generation of GRIT Award winners!