Jamie Neil’s relatively young career has already come full circle, and she’s climbing higher professionally with every step.
A decade ago, she spent a summer as an intern in West Texas with another company learning the ropes about oil and gas from lease operators.
Today, she finds herself supporting that same region again, but this time as the team lead for WPX’s completion activities for all three of the company’s basins, including its highly prized Permian assets.
Her role places her among WPX’s top female technical professionals. These leaders include geoscience managers Lee Steinke and Amy Richardson, Reservoir Engineering Manager Marcia Brueggenjohann and Production Foreman Ashley Goletz.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Jamie comes to her new role following her third promotion since she joined WPX in 2008. She’s also taken a couple of lateral transitions along the way to boost her knowledge base.
The completions group is responsible for finishing or “fracking” new oil wells after they’re drilled. The strategy and tactics that are used benefits from a variety of voices.
“Our big theme at WPX is making sure we’re getting integration and collaboration across disciplines and across basins,” Jamie says.
“One of the things we’re doing in the completions group is working with our drilling, reservoir, geology, production and regulatory teams — and all of the pieces that go along with it. Everyone must be involved in some capacity to make our wells successful.”
Through that process, Jamie says you learn about org structure – what works, what doesn’t, and ways to fix it.
“There are still some constraints, but there’s progress, too. Most importantly, people understand that we can’t work in silos or just mind to our own corner of the world,” Jamie explains.
“Collaborating reveals any blinders you didn’t know you had. New ways of thinking are good for the company and increases the productivity of our wells,” Jamie said.
THE ARTSY ENGINEER
Art and energy go together like oil and water, right? Well, in Jamie’s case, this petroleum engineering product from the University of Tulsa has another first love – art.
She has an affinity for painting, drawing and interior design. She actually started out in architecture at another school, but says the program was so structured “it took all the fun out of it for me.”
A family friend who Jamie looks to as a mentor suggested she switch to energy. “I valued that advice and jumped right in,” Jamie said.
“I realize there’s somewhat of an irony here given that I went into engineering because I didn’t like the structure and rigidity of the architecture pursuit I was exposed to, but I love the aspect of discovery we have in oil and gas.
“Take a place like the Permian’s Delaware Basin. We have so much to learn. So many trials and intervals to test. In many respects, it’s like a blank canvas at this point. Its potential is daunting.
“But little by little, well by well, we’re piecing together data points to develop road maps for how to complete our future wells,” says Jamie.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE
Jamie likens her return to completions as a “homecoming” of sorts because of its similarities with her prior work in the discipline and in the field (vs. an office setting), recalling her very first days as an intern.
“It feels familiar while still providing plenty of challenges,” Jamie said. “I’ve always liked being close to the activity near the wellhead where there’s a lot of hustle and bustle.
“You’re working with a slew of vendors, and all kinds of personalities inside and outside the company. I enjoy project management and working with groups of people,” Jamie says.
She describes herself as being a classic split right between blue and gold on personality color charts – someone who’s compassionate, detail-oriented, helpful, prepared, confident and imaginative.
“Leading others is another growing experience for me,” she says. “My focus is to help them be successful. It requires a fundamental shift in your daily approach and how you prioritize.”
Consistent with WPX’s model for employee development, Jamie has now worked in all three of the company’s operating areas, including seven years in the San Juan Basin and a year in the Williston.
“Jamie has always taken personal ownership of her projects, ensuring that feedback from the field is considered in our procedures and analyses,” says WPX’s Jay Foreman. “She has a great work ethic that continues to prove its worth today.”
“Collaborating reveals any blinders you didn’t know you had. New ways of thinking are good for the company.”