Being in the petroleum industry as a Black woman is rare. But for Bernita McCann, it provided the opportunity to do what she loves—and inspire younger generations of female leaders, too. After working at Hightowers Petroleum and then HP Energy, she co-founded her company, for which she currently serves as the CEO: Next Generation Fuel.
Through her position, she can empower and unleash talent in her employees, the communities they serve throughout the country, and globally. Right now, Next Generation is among the top five women-owned energy companies nationally—and they are working every day to build their business and brand.
Here, McCann chatted with The Ladders about trends, what stands out when a candidate applies, and more:
What are the trends you see within your industry currently?
The petroleum industry is undergoing a shift, through infrastructure and technology. Most companies are focused on improving and repairing their existing networks so that they’re better able to meet needs. Investing in technology can allow you to increase capacity while delivering products at a faster time frame.
How would you describe your company culture?
We make sure our employees know we care about them and their families. They know we are invested in their success, and when they succeed, we succeed.
What can a job applicant do to catch your attention?
They must have a basic understanding of the company and know what they can bring to the role. Leadership skills and understanding emotional intelligence, taking the initiative, asking questions are all important, too.
What’s the most challenging part of being a leader/manager?
Having to deliver bad news and letting someone go who is a great team player. The best part is when your employee thanks you for helping them resolve a problem, and you know that they have your best interest in the company! They are making sure you look good all the time, especially when we get positive feedback from our customers.
What’s your advice for tackling big projects at a company-wide level?
Choose the lead for the project, then bring on a supporting team. Communicate together, create the outline to understand the action items, and set deadlines, and follow up meetings with the assigned team.
How do you keep your staff motivated? How do you motivate yourself?
Empower your employees, be supportive and congratulate, and celebrate them with the entire team! Being part of groups composed of leaders throughout various communities, other business owners, and I listen to Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Dr. Myles Munroe, and Lisa Nichols.
How do you find a balance between work and life demands?
This is not easy! Every day I try to remind myself to schedule and manage time wisely. Since we are in quarantine mode, finding a balance is crucial, but I am not successful daily.
How do you feel about the current climate in America right now in regards to race?
Black people are tired of being ignored! America is not ready to deal with the root cause of injustice for Black people. Until we can get on One Accord for Human Rights, I don’t know how we can get to equal rights. Sadly, people do not see the urgent need for change when it comes to the Black communities.
Is it changing your work culture?
I centered my work environment around love. Our values are still the same, love, respect, and transparency. Amid any conversation, or outside social matters, we must be respectful, show love, and invite trust by allowing them to be their authentic self.