HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) --Step by step, her pink boots have led to the Energy Corridor, but it's a bike that gets Katie Mehnert to work every day.
One word can pretty much sum up Mehnert's personality: energy. It's also the industry she has spent her life advocating on behalf of.
"It powers everything. It moved us into the modern age," she said. "The reputation is terrible and that's such a challenge to me."
Mehnert's father, an oil and gas engineer, felt the pain of the bust of the 1980s.
"When my dad was let go, I remember him telling me do not get into this industry. It's a dead end," she said.
Now a wife and mother, she defied his advice and learned about tough times in her first job at Enron. From there she worked her way up within several more energy companies.
"I've been blessed to have crisis in my life because that has helped me grow into the jobs I've had since," she said.
Then came the question on a flight from London that sparked a new fire.
"I was sitting next to a gentleman who said, 'What's a pretty young lady like you doing in a dark, dangerous business like oil?' I thought women, energy, what are the stereotypes right here," she said.
PinkPetro was born on a cocktail napkin. As oil was plunging, she launched her company in 2014, trading in her big corporate chair for a pink one. The idea picked up steam.
"It just overnight became this thing and then it was like, I can't stop. There's no going back," said Mehnert.
What was born is a company to promote women and minorities in energy, educate the public about the industry and tell the stories to help change the perception.
"I don't even like using the word oil. I saw energy, because it's all energy. Oil is a dirty word," she said.
"I think the biggest misconceptions about energy and energy companies truthfully is that companies don't care and that's just so far from the truth," she added.
"We're at an inflection point where there's a huge encouragement to get women and girls to take risks. The stats in oil and gas and energy are horrific, we're dead last," she said of women in the energy industry.
It will take a lot of steps in those pink boots, but she has no intentions of walking slowly to get there.
"Find a place where you can make a difference. Don't run into something safe. Run into the fire a bit. Take some risks," said Mehnert.
13 things you didn't know about Katie Mehnert
- What's your Starbucks order? - Double tall peppermint non fat latte with one Sweet and Low
- On your days off, do you sleep in or wake up early? - Days off? I'm a Startup CEO. I'm always up! If I had days off I'd sleep in!
- Where is your favorite place to shop? - Some women like purses and shoes. My vice? Hermes scarves.
- What's one food that you absolutely hate? - Raw tomatoes. I'll eat salsa, ketchup and pizza sauce but don't ask me to eat them raw!
- Who is your celebrity crush? - I'm a big Sheryl Sandberg fan
- What is your favorite ice cream flavor? - Cookie Dough
- Where did you grow up? - I'm part Cajun... born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Do you sing in the shower? - Yep. Life's too short not to!
- What's one thing you can't live without? - I cannot live without coffee in the morning, my admin Linda at work who keeps my head on straight and my amazing family at home!
- What's a superpower you wish you had? - The ability to create more time.
- What do you order on your pizza? - Ham and pepperoni if I'm splurging.
- Where is the best place to take a date in Houston? - House of Pies.
- What would your walk-up song be? - Anything by U2