Crystal Heter directs the commercial strategy for Rockies Express Pipeline (Rex), which Tallgrass Energy Partners LP received from Kinder Morgan Inc. in a $1.8-billion divestiture in 2012. Heter also handles the profit and loss for the pipeline—Tallgrass’ largest asset—with more than $650 million in EBITDA per year.
Originally, the line flowed natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to Ohio, in a time before gas was produced from the Marcellus-Utica region. Once that was discovered and utilized, Tallgrass made it bidirectional to take gas to the Midwest.
In April of this year, Tallgrass acquired an additional 25% interest in Rex. Heter plans to possibly work on other pipeline projects for Tallgrass that are in the same region as Rex, and in acquisitions, but Rex remains her priority.
Career path: Heter spent 2000 to 2012 at Kinder Morgan Inc. after finishing college, first in project management and engineering and then as a director of account services for commercial operations. The latter role thrust her into customer relations and commercial and regulatory direction for Rex and other pipeline projects.
Heter acknowledges that today, such longevity at one workplace among young professionals “is not nearly as common [as it used to be]. A lot of it has to do with [the employee’s] willingness to relocate. [Employees used to go where the company asked them]. I certainly think there’s a lot of value to be had in being a ‘company girl,’ if you will, just in the depth of knowledge and experience [that you gain] and knowing the facilities that we have; there’s a lot of value in that.”
She advises young professionals searching for this same experience to find a company that lets them “reach out and grab anything that is of interest. … Some of the big companies have a lot of staff and your job is very siloed.”
Sharing: She aspires to one day be on a board of directors, either within industry or without, so she can share her knowledge of the industry with others. “The oil and gas business touches people in so many ways—from being an essential need in day-to- day life, to impacting job growth and economic development, to [impacting] landowners [whose land may be crossed by infrastructure].”