In 1980, Diana Chance was looking to make a career move. Having worked for a drug manufacturing company for 10 years, Chance was in her early 30s and she wanted work that was more challenging, more exciting and more meaningful.
She entered the oil and gas industry by way of Crystal Oil, later moving to Shlumberger and finally settling at Donner Properties where today she is the directing manager. Chance oversees the company’s half million acres of property across four states with the help of a small staff, a contract geologist, geophysicist and two surface managers, as well as serving as the primary negotiator for all deals made by Donner Properties across the nation.
When entering the oil and gas industry, the only women she knew of in the field worked in clerical positions. While she didn’t know anyone personally in the field, she was determined to work through the various positions in the industry to find her niche.
“I knew this was the field I wanted to be in because it touched every single life in the country; it just happened to be a male-dominated industry,” said Chance. “This is still a male-dominated business today, but it has changed significantly. Sometimes I find myself to be the only woman in the room, but that happens much less often now.”
Chance was the first and only female to ever serve as chairman of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and continues to serve as a board member today. She works regularly with legislators regarding bills to solve problems relative to the oil and gas industry, and she served on the transition teams for former Governors Bobby Jindal and Kathleen Blanco.
Chance said building relationships with people has been the most important part of doing her job well.
“One must develop mentors, network and remember to constantly stay updated in the knowledge of this ever-changing industry, but the key is building and maintaining relationships.” Chance said.
The most challenging aspect of her job is also the thing she enjoys the most: negotiating.
“Without a doubt, it’s easier for a man to succeed in this job. Even today, when you get into a negotiating position with someone you’ve never met, they tend to make assumptions about you simply because you’re a female. I have to work harder to prove that I’m the right person and I know what I’m doing,” Chance said. “Being able to effectively bring different people with different personalities and perspectives to one common goal is the fun part for me.”
Chance has worked much of her adult, professional life shattering and exceeding the expectations others have had of her, only to find that the expectations she has had of herself have been harder to meet. She comes to work each day prepared to work harder and do better than the day before.
“The diversity of opportunities and experiences this field has brought me is astounding. While I have been in the minority as a woman in this field, working with the guys in this business has been a joy for me,” Chance said. “It’s the men who gave me a chance in this business and I feel blessed to have served here.”
After nearly four decades in the business, Chance finds encouraging young women coming into the industry to be one of the most rewarding aspects of her career.
“It’s an exciting time for women to come on board in this industry. We bring something different to the table. We’re detail-oriented. We don’t mind speaking our piece and we bring ideas that haven’t yet been explored. And that’s a benefit for this business,” Chance said. “I don’t think women coming in need special treatment or special favors. They just need opportunities to prove themselves. When it comes down to it, it’s all about doing the job well.”