As a mom to a 15-month-old and President and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, Erin McDonough isn’t worried about finding a balance between the two worlds, her only concern is being the best she can be at both. Appointed President and CEO of The Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA) three months ago, McDonough is settling into her new role and learning everything she can about the trade. “I’m learning to understand everything, but more importantly I am learning to explain it,“ McDonough said. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, and I work to teach people there is nothing to be afraid of. Our members and I do a lot of work speaking and educating on the protective regulations in Michigan, so people can really understand what we do.” A typical day for McDonough can include almost anything from a speaking engagement to strategic planning. Her days book up fast but the constant action of her position keeps McDonough on her toes and solid in her career choice. “Oh gosh, when I was younger I would never have thought I would be doing this, but every day is different and that is really what I love about it. The diversity of things you get to do in this position is what keeps it interesting. There is marketing, administration, education and communication. That is what I find appealing and most fulfilling,” said McDonough. But regardless of her daily agenda, her main goal every day is the meet the needs of her members. “I love our members, they are so passionate and they are very family-oriented. They care about our state. A lot of them are family businesses, so this is their history. It is interesting meeting their children or grandchildren who are getting ready to take over the business and how much they care about what they do,” said McDonough. But the MOGA isn’t just about business, it works to support and protect the state as well. McDonough explains it isn’t as black and white as some people make it out to be. MOGA members work together to make a difference in Michigan and supply jobs across the state. “We serve the whole state of Michigan. It’s not just about putting in a well, it’s about the communities, the businesses and the people. Our industry is made up of some amazing people and it’s my job to let people know that. It’s really interesting how diverse our field is and how diverse the career paths that connect in our industry are. We have geologists, CPAs, engineers, builders, I mean the list goes on and I am lucky, I get to represent them all,” said McDonough. McDonough holds a bachelor degree in geology from Central Michigan University, a masters in policy from the University of Michigan and worked for more than a decade with the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC). Before joining MOGA, McDonough was Executive Director at MUCC and learned how to navigate the governmental jungle like a pro. “When I started here I learned a lot about oil and gas. But when it comes to political systems and the process you would use to move legislation and regulation, that process doesn’t change. The process by which you do things is the same, the people I work with are different, but really the two groups share a lot of ground, so I feel comfortable here,” McDonough said. Though McDonough’s position with MOGA is fairly new, her experience has made the transition easy and her positive outlook and dedication keeps her driven. “You’re only limited by creativity and your ability to raise money. And if you have a good group of people, work to be creative and put a little elbow grease behind it you can take a concept and make it a reality and that is fun,” said McDonough. “Even if it doesn’t work, at least we tried something new and kept moving forward.” McDonough says she didn’t get where she is today alone, she credits friends, family and mentors for helping guide her to find her passion. Two individuals she notes as influential people in her career are Donna Stine and Dennis Muchmore. Each gave her the confidence, courage and support she needed to find her place at MOGA and make an impact as a female leader in the community. “As women we have to get it in our heads that our opinions and our leadership has value and we have to act that way,” said McDonough. As a powerful woman she also places her role as mother above all else. McDonough believes you can have your cake and eat it too. Or in this case, have a high profile, exciting and diverse job and have a happy home too. “We have a 15 month old and we like to joke that we are a high-functioning team. And really we are two professionals who love our jobs and are making it work to have a family too,” McDonough said. “Before we had our daughter I don’t know if we had balance, but now that we have her it has brought us together. We love our jobs, we just love her more, so we make time and it’s worth it.” McDonough and her husband, Rob, are proud parents to baby Arden Ruth and credit her for making them even better at their jobs. “You’re never going to love someone like you love your child. Having her has only made me better at my job. My members are family-oriented and now I really know what that is all about. Having a baby reminds you to give and to have fun. I would tell people you can do both and do both well,” McDonough said.
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.