Kathy Hinkle always has been drawn to wide open spaces – from her rural roots in northeastern Oklahoma to her new role as manager of completions and production for WPX’s San Juan Basin.
Kathy grew up in Copan, Okla. – just over an hour’s drive north of Tulsa – and working at WPX headquarters has allowed her stay close to family and enjoy a career she loves: petroleum engineering.
But early on, Kathy envisioned a different career.
“At first I wanted to become a doctor. I thought I’d work in a rural community and provide medical care to others who didn’t have access to a major city,” says Kathy, who was recently promoted.
“However, I soon realized that I wasn’t cut out for the medical field; I wasn’t a fan of the sights and smells,” she says, laughing. “I learned that I had a weak stomach.”
But she did have a strong aptitude for math, which helped her pursue an engineering degree at the University of Oklahoma, where she worked her way through college.
“Math led me to engineering, but at first I just didn’t know which discipline to study,” she says.
“Since my mother worked at an energy company, it seemed natural for me to study petroleum engineering. And I’ve never looked back or questioned it.”
Kathy remembers her roots as a student heading to college, so she volunteers today by mentoring young women through local nonprofits.
“I feel like I have a very blessed life, and I’ve found my niche helping young ladies who find themselves in hard financial situations.
“I help those who are working on their GED’s by tutoring them in English and math, so I can really help get them through that testing process.
“I tell them that math shouldn’t be intimidating at all – they do it all the time at the grocery store or teaching their kids.”
Her first job in the energy industry was at Texaco in west Texas. Eighteen years and another job later, Kathy made her way to Williams as a reservoir engineer. WPX spun off from Williams in late 2011.
Kathy’s manager prior to her new role, Marcia Brueggenjohann, says her communications skills and strong work ethic make Kathy a terrific asset to WPX.
“She’s one of those quietly strong people, who will always go the extra mile,” says Marcia, manager of reservoir engineering for WPX’s San Juan group.
“She’s very dedicated, and she asks really good, clarifying questions. She’s a wonderful addition to an extremely talented group of people.”
In her new role, Kathy manages five engineers, and her team is responsible for designing and executing hydraulic fracturing jobs in our San Juan assets, as well as overseeing well workovers and designing lift equipment. They also work to design and install production facilities.
“Once the drilling rig is released, we take it from there all the way to gathering and transporting,” she says.
The San Juan Gallup oil discovery, which we announced earlier this year, is bringing a new enthusiasm to the San Juan team, where WPX historically only produced only natural gas.
“The oil production is certainly exciting, and has an extremely competitive rate of return,” she says. “And we already have the team in place to develop it and take it into the next phase.”
Providing an open arena to share ideas is what Kathy says solidifies her team.
“I appreciate the openness and the inclusiveness of our management at WPX,” she says.
“That desire to collaborate is a reality here – we’re not in silos or isolation. I think that brings great ideas forward because people respond to that energy.”