Kristin Smith’s work ethic was apparent to the Vista Proppants and Logistics LLC team even before she joined the company. When Smith was an audit senior manager with Whitley Penn LLP, one of her clients was Vista, an in-basin provider of frack sand and logistics solutions throughout the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale and Scoop/Stack. Their close partnership helped Smith to gain knowledge of the oil and gas industry and allowed Vista to recognize her talent and potential.
After a 10-year career with Whitley Penn, Smith joined Vista in 2016 as its chief accounting officer, and less than a year later was named CFO.
“Being promoted to CFO was always a goal of mine; however, the opportunity came sooner than I had envisioned,” she says. “I attribute that to a lot of hard work and dedication—and a little bit of luck.”
So far, Smith has been responsible for the financial oversight of more than $300 million of capital growth and $325 million of capital expansion projects at Vista, which include two greenfield sand mines and multiple transload facilities.
Road to leadership: Shortly after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 with a BBA in accounting, Smith began auditing for Whitley Penn. She built a substantial career in public accounting with the company, overseeing financial audit engagements for private companies across all industries.
But when the Vista opportunity appeared, Smith hit the ground running as Vista’s chief accounting officer, overseeing an accounting team of roughly 30 members. “I am incredibly loyal, so I thought I would stay in public accounting my entire life,” she says, “When I finally accepted that I had different plans for myself outside of public accounting, it was liberating.”
“I managed to finish the MBA program in two years while juggling mom duty and my new role as CFO. It wasn’t always graceful, and my laundry turnover rate was atrocious; however, I got it done.”
After a few months, Smith was promoted to CFO— just as she started work toward her next professional milestone at Texas Christian University.
“I was promoted to CFO right about the time I started the Energy MBA program at TCU. With the help of my husband and both grace and understanding from my two girls, I managed to finish the MBA program in two years while juggling mom duty and my new role as CFO. It wasn’t always graceful, and my laundry turnover rate was atrocious; however, I got it done.”
Doing it all: Early in her leadership role at Vista, Smith was tasked with enhancing its internal operations reporting and accountability. She proved integral to the preparation and filing of the company’s S-1 and notes that developing the file “was a beast of a project” that she completely immersed herself in to complete.
In the new position, she was responsible for rethinking Vista’s organizational structure, which initially started as three separate operating companies. “Bringing the three divisions together and filling key positions that were vacant at that time, while challenging, [was] rewarding and insightful. I got to mold my group. Hiring new talent was fun and challenging, but watching many of our loyal, long-term employees grow into bigger leadership roles has been the most inspiring part of it all.
Career goals: “The sand environment has gone through such a transformation in the last few years, and I want to see that through,” she says on her agenda for Vista. “I love where I am now. I am at home with Vista.”
Advice to young professionals: “Embrace the ups and downs. Learn to adapt quickly to change. Think ahead,” she advises.
“The cycles that come with the oil and gas industry provide so many growth opportunities, especially for young executives early in their career. The opportunity to soak up knowledge in such a dynamic environment keeps things exciting, challenging and rewarding.”