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Oil and Gas Investor

[Editor's note: Influential Women In Energy 2023 is a supplement to the February 2023 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine. Subscribe here.]

Kathryn Roark hadn’t planned on entering the oil and gas industry. In fact, as a 24-year-old law school graduate, she had wanted to “work on issues involving people,” according to Roark. “If you’d told [me] ... that I would be discussing emissions, green-house gasses protocol and climate risk, I would have told you that was crazy,” she said.

But a cold call from a Baker Hughes recruiter changed Roark’s professional trajectory and opened up opportunities and challenges she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now, after years of mentorship and guidance and taking on the role of vice president of diversity and ESG at Patterson-UTI, she wants to continue to grow and be someone that others continue to trust and seek counsel from.

Roark lives in Houston with her husband of nearly 20 years, Adam, and two children, Ted (16) and Mary James (12). She is an avid sports fan, especially of North Carolina basketball and the Houston Astros.

Glass half full

“In my experience, any challenges have been far outweighed by the positive. I’ve always tried to find the people that are willing to listen, teach, explain and don’t at all mind fielding the ‘dumb question.’ Those people have far outnumbered any blockers I met along the way. I try to be a glass half full person in all areas of my life, while also being practical. For as many challenges as I think there are today in our industry, these are all also so many opportunities.”

Better ways to operate

“We will be reliant on oil and gas for a long time, and yes, we will continue to develop additional reliable sources of energy. So, for the future and for new professionals starting out in the industry, I think we should all be excited about being part of a better, smarter path forward.  Those just starting out will be a part of identifying new ways to operate that are better for the environment, working through how companies and their employees can continue to support local communities where we all live and work. There are just so many opportunities and different types of work for those that are paying attention, are and interested, and want to learn.”

Someone you can trust

“When my career first started, it was all about soaking it in and ‘not messing up.’  As I progress, while I certainly want to be respected and relied on for what expertise I am bringing to the table, I think more and more about what messages and lessons others may be observing from me—with my words but, even more, my actions. I hope to continue to be someone that others around me continue to trust and seek my counsel and opinion.”

Freedom to say ‘no’

“[To the young professionals in energy:] listen, be yourself and be kind. Be open to others’ ideas. Look for the good, even when it’s hard to find. Have a sense of humor and give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone thinks you are ready for a new challenge or opportunity, believe them, but also decide if it is the right time for you personally. I am a big believer that it can be hard to excel at everything (professional life, being a spouse, parent, PTA volunteer, Sunday school teacher—whatever it is!) at the same time. That’s a lot of pressure. Give yourself the freedom to make the right decision at the right time for you personally and professionally, which may mean sometimes saying, ‘no.’”

For the future

“I am excited to see how the industry transforms and evolves in methods of attracting a new generation of talent as the energy industry opens itself up to more diverse jobs than it has had in the past.”

“I also look forward to watching so many new technologies become more affordable, ultimately benefiting everyone as companies like Patterson-UTI continue to provide energy to the world in a responsible way.”

Three more things

1. My husband and I have known each other since we were babies.
2. I am an information junkie, and I love a good internet rabbit hole.
3. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by good, smart, hard-working and fun people by my side every day.

25 Influential Women in Energy

View the full list of this year’s honorees at Hart Energy LIVE.