As women and business leaders, one of the most important responsibilities we have is to share our knowledge and experiences. Mary Boroughs, President of Chevron’s Environmental Management and Real Estate Company, took the time to do just that.
Mary and I sat down and had a remarkably candid discussion about what inspired her in her career path to how she sees the role of women evolving in the energy and real estate industries. As our discussion went on, three underlying keys to success emerged: be authentically you, diversity and inclusion yield success, and always surround yourself with talented people including those you choose to work for and those you choose to work for you.
Mary shared she was inspired at a young age to “follow her passion” which led her down a path her family considered non-traditional. She says she went against the advice of her parents for a future they considered safe, to choosing something different – something she was good at. Because she followed her passion, she found herself in a leadership role as an Operations Supervisor, running her own business, with her own P&L and her own workforce. She excelled and her company recognized her contributions.
“Follow what you are passionate about, focus on what you are good at, succeed as your genuine self. There will be lots of pressure to fit in and conform, but you can only be your best when you are authentic to yourself,” Mary advises.
Mary shared one of her fondest memories of her parents joining her at a career day. They had never been to an offshore platform. When her dad asked her to take pictures of the two of them in front of the equipment, he was so proud. Because she was true to herself, her parents could not have been prouder.
Leading with Diversity and Inclusion
Mary beamed as she talked about Chevron’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. She strongly believes that diverse thoughts and perspectives have enhanced the employee experience at Chevron, and it is always at the forefront of how she leads.
“Different ways of thinking elevate the conversation,” Mary went on to say. This belief drives her to work on understanding and listening to those around her, and she has personally experienced how it influenced positive change and diversity of thought in her organization. The recent events in our country have had a profound impact on her. She has made it her goal to not only be better herself – but to encourage and influence those around her, and ultimately dispel racial bias in our society.
“A positive employee experience doesn’t cost anything. It takes us listening and being empathetic to their headwinds, their challenges and removing those barriers. If we can do that, we will compete with the best and we will win.” Mary said.
Surround Yourself with Talent
Above all, and it speaks to her unassuming character, Mary credits her success to the people around her. She knows where she excels. Her ability to empower the talent around her to be their best has given her the opportunity to grow as well as lead throughout her career.
She advises women to keep their options open and look for new opportunities, especially if you know they will challenge you. Her stint overseas in Sumatra, Indonesia, is a great example of how broadening her world internationally has brought both personal and professional growth. In each of her roles, she depends on and learns from the expertise of her diverse teams and is so appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the leadership team in an industry that has typically been male-dominated. She will say she is not an expert in the functions she currently leads, but Mary is surrounded by people who know their businesses. She succeeds when they do and her job is to empower them.
Becoming the President of the Environmental Management and Real Estate Company at Chevron is not where Mary envisioned her career path to lead. She laughingly compared her journey to more of a jungle gym than a ladder, however, she is grateful she has always gotten to do what she loves and follow her passion. And when I asked her what she would like her legacy to be, Mary quoted Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I want to have a positive impact on the people I come in contact with, so I’ll be proud if people remember me for how I made them feel,” she ended. We can all learn from Mary’s selfless leadership style, and her kindness, what a gift for our next generation of women leaders.