Alumnus Myra Dria '76, named one of the Most Influential Women in Energy

 

Myra Dria'76, 2016 Meritorious Service Award Winner with Stephanie Hippo '15, 2016,
Young Alumni Leadership Award winner at the 2016 Innovation ShowCase.

Myra Dria, ’76, PhD, has been recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Energy, an honor that reflects her success as an entrepreneur and an engineering pioneer in an industry where there are few people like her.

Editors of Oil and Gas Investor say they long discussed recognizing the female geologists, explorers, engineers and founders who rose to the top of the industry before choosing the inaugural class in February. Dria and 24 of her peers were introduced at a luncheon in Houston.

For Dria, it was welcome recognition from an industry where she often felt isolated and marginalized and at times still does.

“Everybody’s experience is going to be different,” said Dria, the founder and CEO of Houston-based Pearl Resources LLC. “I will tell you that women face many of the same challenges today that I did.”

She was one of only a handful of women in her graduating class at the Case Institute of Technology, where she majored in polymer engineering. Her first employer, Cleveland’s Standard Oil Co., sent her to its play in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where she was the only woman in sight. She recalls not being allowed to travel with the men.

“I went up by myself,” she said. “It was company policy.”

She said she’s often been subject to slights and discrimination in her career. Still, she went on to hold high ranking positions at Royal Dutch Shell, Western Atlas Software, Schlumberger GeoQuest, Amoco and BP Amoco.

Today she runs a busy exploration and production company that operates in West Texas and sells oil and gas directly to the pipeline companies. Pearl Resources, which she founded in 2011, has expertise in geology, geophysics, well design, field operations, drilling and hydraulic fracturing, Dria said. She added that her teams drilled 92 wells between 2009 and 2011, sometimes running three and four rigs at a time.

Pearl is, in fact, the third oil and gas producing company she has founded. She is currently CEO of Ristra Energy (primarily an energy data company) and previously CEO of Opal Resources, which operated in West Texas.

She said entrepreneurship was her response to an “old boys club” where she never fit in and didn’t particularly want to. She was once denied an equity partner, she said, because she wouldn’t join a hunting trip to Montana.

  “The presence of women in oil and gas right now is primarily in larger institutions, like Exxon and BP, because that’s a corporate initiative,” Dria said. “Going out on your own, like I’ve been doing, is tough.”

In the oil fields of West Texas, she said, she’s still a minority “by light years.”

Still, she succeeded as an energy executive, as an entrepreneur and as a CEO. She credits her technical training at the Case Institute of Technology and at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her doctorate in petroleum engineering. And she gives some credit to competitive figure skating, which she excelled at as a young woman.

Skating taught her how to fall and get back up “and try again until you get it right,” she said, laughing.

Dria, who serves on the visiting committee of the Case School of Engineering, received the Meritorious Service Award from the Case Alumni Association in 2016. She said she thinks women can find good careers in the energy industry and should seek them out.

“There are lots of niches to work in, where you don’t have to fight the battles,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of neat opportunities out there, in property acquisition, geology, math, civil engineering, chemical engineering all related to oil and gas production as well as other downstream operations.”

To go her route, through the oil fields of the energy plays, requires a certain moxie, she warns.

“You’ve got to be tough,” she said. “You have to have will and desire of iron. If you crumble at the first adversity, it’s not for you.”

 

Myra reflected upon her career and her formative years at Case upon receiving the Meritorious Service Award in 2016. See the video here: