Kayla Ball

Chief Product Officer, Validere, Houston

Kayla Ball thought she would be a geologist, but years of reaching out and learning all aspects of the oil and gas industry have earned her the title of chief product officer with Validere. She believes the oil and gas industry impacts the smallest and largest aspects of the planet, and she is proud to play a role in that.

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?

“My father is a partner in an operating company in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin. I grew up visiting locations and running title all over South Texas.”

Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?

“I am proud of the many products I created during my tenure with IHS Kingdom. There were many firsts for subsurface interpretation with integrating new technologies and practices like geosteering with seismic and geologic interpretation. It’s incredibly fulfilling to know that products I worked tirelessly on are still used in practice every day in the industry.”

What has been your most challenging project to date, and how did you accomplish your goal?

“Establishing and growing a Houston presence for Validere. We identified the skill sets we would need locally and then pulled together a recruitment plan, all while choosing an office location. Building a culture and relentlessly prioritizing core values during a hiring process can feel like insanity at times. It really is a snowball effect; you add one rock star that brings other rock stars and before you know it, you have people actively asking to work with you.”

What qualities do you think are necessary for a good leader in the oil and gas industry?

“Grit, empathy, patience and resilience. We have a very cyclical business and when it is in a down cycle, it can be incredibly challenging, both mentally and emotionally. My favorite leaders were always in the trench with the rest of the team, not passing down objectives and ultimatums from an ivory tower.”

How have you exercised leadership to help shape your department and/or company?

“I like to think that I am highly relatable to my teams. We know each other on a personal level, [and] we have open and candid (sometimes painful) conversations because we genuinely want the best for each other. I also happen to be in a season of life where flexibility and compassion are important characteristics for me as a contributor. It is important to recognize the human first; the rest will take care of itself if you take care of them.”

What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry and/or in your sector?

“Don’t stay in your lane. Learn as much about the business as you can and always find people in other teams that will support and nurture your career ambitions. Nobody is going to chart your path forward, and the best opportunities will always present themselves when you feel unready and unworthy. Most of the best qualities are intrinsic to the person, the rest can be learned. I was originally planning to be a geologist.”

What do you think young industry members as a group have to offer that is unique to them?

“They are entering an industry that is very different from the one I entered into. This generation embraces technology, trying new things and questioning the status quo. Original thinking and driving results are key opportunities the younger members have to offer.”

Three More Things
  1. I’ve always strived to prove initial judgments of women in energy and women in tech wrong with knowledge, genuine curiosity and a sense of humor.
  2. I rejoice in being “The World’s Okayest.” If you see me killing it in one area of my life, know that another is lacking.”
  3. I cannot remember a person’s name to save my life unless I meet them three times.