Getting gritty with Elizabeth Gerbel

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We sat down with our Lifetime Achievement Award winners to get an inside view of how they view grit and leadership.  This week we met with Elizabeth Gerbel.

At ALLY we define GRIT as — Growth. Resilience. Innovation and Talent.

What part of grit resonates with you most personally?  Professionally? And why?

Personally, I see grit as taking the initiative to succeed in an area where I feel uncomfortable or unprepared.  Initiative in these instances means finding ways to learn to do what is right especially when it’s hard.  Grit is being comfortable with being uncomfortable and being willing to look foolish to achieve what’s important. 

When my mother was simultaneously diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons', I couldn’t worry about what I didn’t know.  I had to rally to find resources to help her and my dad.  I learned that I needed to take her to restaurants and shops and spend time with her in venues that she loved even though she struggled to walk and eat, and people stared at us.  I had to learn to stop worrying about everyone else and just laugh, sing, and dance with her wherever we were because watching her light up and smile were worth it.  Even though it was hard, exhausting, and overwhelming, we had so many wonderful moments together.

Professionally, grit is taking the punches and never giving up.  Sometimes, you don’t need to be smarter than the other person.  You just need to keep showing up.  Grit is also accepting that no matter how much you plan and prepare, something is going to come out of nowhere to rain on your parade.  When that happens, I just give myself 24 hours to recover and then go at it again.  Every hour of every day passes whether you spend that time crossing the next minefield or hiding under the covers.  Might as well face the minefield.

Who in your work and life have been role models of GRIT?  Can you tell us who they are and what you learned from them? 

My grandfather had a 6th-grade education, but he moved his wife and 5 children from their farm in Argentina to Buenos Aires and started a factory manufacturing parts for motors.  He started that company and failed multiple times.  Ultimately, he built a solid business.  His children are all educated, and his sons still run the company.  There was no reason to even believe he should leave his farm to start a business.  He just knew that he could do it, and eventually, he did.  


As a lifetime achievement award winner, if you look at what the end of your career might look like when you retire – what will you be most proud of in our quest for a lower carbon future?  What does that look like for the industry?  What does that look like for you?

Our business is to provide IT and back office services to the energy industry, and I feel that it is my responsibility, before I retire, to ensure our team members become experts in renewables so that they can help our clients who are already in or are entering that market niche scale profitably.  Our strength is in designing efficient processes and finding creative ways to use technology to improve profits.  Therefore, our participation in a low-carbon future makes perfect sense.   

I anticipate that the Majors will shift rapidly to low-carbon energy generation which will create new opportunities for upstream organizations.  However, I also anticipate new environmental regulations to minimize carbon emissions from traditional fossil fuel producers.  If we can minimize restrictions on new refineries and pipeline development projects while collaborating as an industry on effective methods to reduce emissions, the U.S. Energy Industry has the potential to drive significant economic growth and employment opportunities for decades to come.

Personally, I am excited and energized by the opportunities I see within our industry and look forward to continuing my career and participating in these industry shifts over the next decade.

Rapid Round / Getting to Know You

Favorite band or song and why?

My favorite artist is Pink.  Her music and concerts align with her philosophy that you should love and respect yourself.  I love that!  The world becomes easier to navigate and more joyful when you are confident in yourself and authentic.  It is great to see Pink communicate that to thousands of people through her concerts and documentaries. 

The cost of gasoline when you got your first car?

$0.90 per gallon.  LOL!

What person you would be keen to have dinner with (dead or alive) and why?

Jerry Seinfeld.  I watched his show from my late teens through my early twenties, and reruns still make me laugh.  He’s smart and funny.  I think dinner with him would be a fantastic and memorable experience.   



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