Sally JewellWhen President Obama tapped Sally Jewell to be secretary of the Department of the Interior, she was CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI).

Her zigzag career made her an especially attractive candidate for the position, which involves an $11 billion budget, 70,000 employees and stewardship of one-fifth of the nation’s lands, according to The New York Times.

Jewell offers what The Christian Science Monitor called “a dual legacy as an environmental steward with rare ties to the oil industry.” At REI, which serves a market of outdoor enthusiasts, she was involved in projects that promoted stewardship of public lands, including trails, local parks, and recreational areas.

She first trained as a petroleum engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. in the oil and gas fields of Oklahoma, according to the Department of Interior.

After three years, she moved on to commercial banking, first as an energy and natural resources expert. Later she oversaw Washington Mutual’s commercial banking business, according to the The Seattle Times.

Her new gig as head of the interior department will involve caring for public lands, including national wildlife refuges and national parks, and overseeing the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy sources on public lands and waters.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Jewell sailed through her confirmation hearings. As a conservationist and businessperson who specialized in energy, she offers something for everyone, the business types and environmentalists alike.

Jewell has always been an avid outdoorswoman who likes skiing, kayaking, hiking, and climbing to high places–both literally and figuratively. You could argue that her latest two jobs—as head of REI and now the interior department—are examples of an approach to work that seeks to connect work with play. Each incorporates her love of the outdoors with work.


Sources: The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, and U.S. Department of Interior