Production Engineer Kathy Hinkle wanted to be a doctor.
But a weak stomach and an aptitude for math led her in a different direction – eight, actually.
That would be Hobbs, N.M., Big Spring, Texas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Fayetteville, Ark., Houston, Independence, Kan., and finally to Tulsa, which is her favorite, by far.
It’s a familiar, well-traveled road for a lot of people in oil and gas. The transitions come with the territory. Now, Kathy’s embarking on another one.
She is one of 50 people at WPX who accepted an early-exit offer this year. In a few days, she’ll put the punctuation mark on a "nice, long career."
"For me, it wasn’t an easy decision at first. A lot of my identity and validation over the past thirty years was tied to my work," Kathy said.
"But you know what, the time is right and I’m blessed to be in a position where I don’t have to work. Hopefully it will also provide opportunities for others in the organization," she says.
Kathy, however, never really put her love for helping others on the shelf. It just took a different form.
Around 2010, she started mentoring at Catholic Charities’ Madonna House where she helped young women work on GEDs, resumes, life skills and developing healthy relationships.
Over the course of three years, she worked with some 20 women, meeting with residents once a week for three hours.
"Volunteering is where my heart is," Kathy says. "The experience was rejuvenating."
For the past five years, Kathy has been involved with Emergency Infant Services where she joined the board of directors and ultimately became the president. She credits former WPX friends Neal Buck and Danni Morris for getting her involved there.
"I’m always surprised by how much need exists," Kathy said. "We serve families from all over town. It’s not just one part of the city over another."
Emergency Infant Services recently completed a $6.8 million capital campaign during Kathy’s tenure that allowed the organization to move into a space that is four times bigger.
Post WPX? The sky’s the limit, according to Kathy.
She enjoys traveling and has been to France, Italy and China. Greece and Ireland are on her bucket list.
Would she have done anything differently in her career?
"That’s a good question," she said. "I was always the type of person who put my head down, worked hard and got after it.
"I probably could have networked more and made more connections across the industry. We can all learn from each other, both inter-personally and with our technical skills."
Her advice for young professionals?
"Don’t be afraid to be challenged or questioned. Your best bosses are the ones who want to maximize and hone your talent. It’s how you grow."
Kathy’s boss, Scott Armstrong, applauds how much she’s contributed.
"Kathy is the consummate professional. She cares about her co-workers, how she represents the company and what she puts into her work," Scott said.
"She’s always been extremely analytical and thoughtful about how she approaches things."
“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 GEDs by tutoring them in English and math, so I can really help get them through that testing process.”