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Paula Harris: Engineering Success as Executive Director of the Astros Foundation

By: Sandra Ortiz

Uncover the dynamic career trajectory of Paula Harris, Vice President of Community Relationships for the Houston Astros. From navigating the challenges of the male-dominated oil and gas sector to spearheading initiatives in the Houston community, Paula’s journey offers invaluable insights for achieving success. Explore her inspiring story in this episode of ‘Her Money Moves,’ and discover essential strategies for overcoming obstacles and leaving a lasting legacy.

Paula Harris, the Vice President of Community Relationships for the Houston Astros and Executive Director of the Astros Foundation, offers insight into her present endeavors and her vision for a lasting legacy. With a background in the oil and gas industry and a history of serving on multiple boards, Paula now dedicates herself to making a tangible difference in the Houston community on a daily basis. Her narrative encompasses navigating the challenges of being a woman in a predominantly male oil field, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a stellar work ethic across industries, and leveraging board positions to effect meaningful change.

Her Path to Professional Success: A Journey of Achievement

Can you talk about your experience in the oil and gas industry?

Entering a male dominated field in the ‘80s was daunting for Paula, especially as a young black woman with limited connections in the industry. Paula explains that she often felt she had the responsibility to make others feel comfortable and to prove herself as a worthwhile engineer. Now, looking back, Paula knows that a lot of this was a desire to be liked, along with an insecurity around her abilities. By the end of her career with Schlumberger, Paula felt confident in herself as someone working in corporate America because she knew her worth and value.

How did you transition from oil and gas to baseball?

When Paula left the oil and gas industry, retirement was the only thing on her mind. She was volunteering on several company boards, but a new job wasn’t on her radar until she was offered one directly by the owner of the Astros. Paula credits her personal brand and her hardworking reputation after decades of working in oil and gas for earning her the positive reputation in the Houston community that led to her position at the Astros Foundation.

What legacy do you hope to leave, both professionally and personally?

Beyond her career in oil and gas and her impact with the Astros Foundation, Paula hopes that her passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) helps her leave a legacy for America’s children. Education has made a massive difference in Paula’s life and in the life of her family, her own children. Setting kids of color and kids from underprivileged backgrounds up for success with STEM education is a major passion for Paula, and she works everyday to expand STEM access for all kids in Houston and across the country.

Key Insights for Achieving Success

“I was very insecure at the beginning of my career (in a male-dominated industry) then I realized that not only I am a woman, I’m a really good engineer.”

“A lot of that (professional opportunities) is about my brand and me being protective of my brand my entire career. People knew how hard I worked, how long I worked, so I had a good reputation…Your reputation is your brand, how do people think of you, how do people know you, what is said about you?”

“If you want to stay young, if you want to stay mobile, if you want your mind to keep working you got to keep moving.”

“I’m really big on education, I come from a family of educators. If my legacy can just be that she helped educate generations, because having education changes trajectories of entire families, that changes your family for generations.”

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW:

About the author: Sandra Ortiz

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Sandra Ortiz Juárez studied Communication Sciences in her native Mexico and obtained a master's degree in Audiovisual Journalism in Spain. She has worked on radio, television and in digital media such as AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas and in the magazines Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres, where she served as digital director. She has interviewed celebrities such as Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, among many other personalities. In her free time she likes to dance and experiment in the kitchen. She confesses to being addicted to the internet and sushi.

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