For Kevinn Matthews, safety is serious business. But around the office he’s known for his lighthearted personality and big smile. He can often be found walking the halls, popping his head into offices to say “hello.”
“Kevinn’s a cordial guy and an encourager. We recognize that and respect him for it,” says Kelly Swan, WPX spokesman. “Professionally, he’s very passionate about supporting the company’s values.”
Kevinn is the attorney for health and safety at WPX. His commitment to the people who work on the front lines of the oil and gas patch helped pave a career path for him when WPX spun off from Williams two years ago.
“When I joined Williams in 2008, I didn’t have anything that I considered my own in terms of a specialized niche,” he says. “Lucky for me, one of my first projects was reviewing the company’s mentor guide, which prompted me to seek out Bryan Guderian to be my mentor.”
“Bryan had a copy of E&P Magazine on his desk, so I figured if he was reading it then I should read it. That was the turning point for me. From then on I immersed myself in all things E&P – field visits, safety certifications, H2S training – basically anything that would give me the tools to do more in my position.”
You can still find a copy of E&P Magazine on Kevinn’s desk today. Upon closer inspection, you will also find his commitment to safety evidenced throughout his office. A printout of the “Ten Safety Secrets” from one of Bryan’s staff meetings hangs above his desk, serving as a reminder of how safety touches every part of the company.
And in the corner, Kevinn has a drop bag stored in case something happens in the field.
“You probably don’t see a lot of attorneys with a drop bag,” he quips. “I don’t just preach safety from my desk. I’m out there, in the field, conducting investigations, learning oilfield forensics, doing my part to ensure we understand why incidents happen, so that the company can take steps to ensure they don’t happen again.”
Kevinn put his legal prowess to work by helping establish a unique partnership for Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota’s Williston Basin, where WPX produces more than 15,000 barrels per day of oil. In 2013, WPX participated in 51 new Williston oil wells.
“We’ve all witnessed what follows an unexpected spill, and because of this WPX wanted to take a proactive approach by working with nine other operators in North Dakota to create an LLC to protect the lake.”
Kevinn took a leadership role on the legal subcommittee, and helped drive the focus on safety throughout the formation process.
All of the parties were trained on how to safely and promptly address potential oil spills, and oil spill response sites were created around the lake for easy access in the event of an incident.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy that WPX took an active role to help protect something special that is cherished by the community.”
In both his professional and personal life, Kevinn aims to be a leader.
“I don’t think you have to wait until you have a certain title to be a leader,” he says. “You can make the choice for yourself to step up and do more.”
Kevinn has proven this to be true. He is the President of the Cornell Club of Oklahoma, past Chair of the Tulsa County Bar Energy & Mineral Law Section Executive Committee, and President of the University of Tulsa College of Law Alumni Board. He also teaches Continuing Legal Education classes through the University of Tulsa College of Law.
“Professionally, I’m so lucky that I have worked for people that have encouraged me to accomplish more,” he says. “Even today, my current manager, Wendy Brooks, challenges me to not limit myself, and I’ve become a better attorney because of her support.”
Mentoring has played an important role in Kevinn’s life, and to show his appreciation he gives back to the community through various programs, such as the Pipeline & Pipeline Plus Program, Minority Law Awareness Day, and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).
“Because I’ve had so many people that played an instrumental role in my life, I want to pay it forward any way I can,” he says.
Kevinn’s caring nature even extends to his four-legged friends, two adopted Airedale terriers.
“I adopt the ones that no one else will take because they have medical issues or need special attention,” he says. “My dogs were both rescue dogs, and now they are healthy, loving and Canine Good Citizen certified.”