The self-proclaimed new kid on the block, Kevin Vann, has never been one to shy away from a challenge.
Even his foray into accounting came about rather unexpectedly when he was persuaded by a professor to switch his degree to accounting after composing a formula for a friend’s cost accounting class.
Two semesters and 21 hours of upper-level accounting classes later, he walked away with an accounting degree from Oklahoma State University, an internship with Texaco and a job with one of the Big Five accounting firms.
It’s safe to say the switch paid off.
Kevin began his career in public accounting with Arthur Andersen in 1993, and came to WPX via the spinoff from Williams. During his career in the various energy sectors, Kevin’s experience has spanned the gamut from risk assessment and analysis to controller and CAO to his current role as interim Sr. VP & CFO at WPX.
“People say to never make a big decision around a life changing event, but I actually called to accept the position at Williams from the hospital the day my oldest daughter was born,” he says smiling.
“I couldn’t be happier with my decision that day because it helped shape my career and paved the way for where I am today with WPX.”
Kevin’s tenacious spirit and can-do attitude make him valuable at WPX.
“I believe my past experiences allow me to step into the role of CFO with a unique perspective,” he says. “I’ve worked for a business unit before that experienced both rapid growth and decline, so I understand what it means to work in a constantly changing environment.”
“The industry continues to fluctuate, which presents its own set of challenges,” he says. “Commodity prices by their nature bounce around, and part of my responsibility is to help WPX make business decisions that allow the company to succeed in any gas price environment.”
For Kevin, establishing a new direction is both a challenge and an opportunity.
“Change is a natural part of business, and I think I bring a certain amount of energy and perspective that can help influence that change. One of my challenges as CFO will be to help shape the direction of the finance and accounting group, and I’m fortunate that I have a rock solid team that I can depend on.”
“For me, it’s about trusting my people and giving them the opportunity to show their value. Great ideas and solutions aren’t created in a vacuum.”
Kevin’s leadership extends beyond the workplace. He is a member of the Oklahoma State Accounting Alumni Council, and has served on the board for Youth Services of Tulsa, as well as the advisory council for the American Lung Association.
Kevin also remains true to his small-town Oklahoma beginnings. His family is originally from Tahlequah, and he is a member of the Cherokee nation.
“My great grandparents were full-blood Cherokee. My great grandfather only spoke the Cherokee language, at least to me,” he remembers fondly. “That’s my heritage, and it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Outside of spending time with his family, Kevin enjoys fishing and hunting. He even secured a spot in the Pope and Young record books for the elk he shot with a bow in Fall 2013.
“I’ve been teaching my youngest daughter to hunt, which has been a lot of fun for both of us. She got her first deer at age 8, and now she’s hooked. She can’t wait until she is a little older and can go hunting with me in Colorado.”