Every position Sarah Kern has held after her first engineering position in 2010 has been the first position of its kind for H&P. From being the first woman engineer at H&P in North America and US Land to the current senior industry affairs specialist she has always upheld H&P values in all aspects of her life.
As part of the many H&P families, Kern grew up in Tulsa watching her dad, Ron VanCamp, go to work each day in the H&P IT department as the manager of desktop operations. He recently retired after 25 years. She remembers going to Bring Your Children to Work Day in the 90s with her dad and meeting people who are still at H&P today.
“Being a part of an H&P family says a lot about H&P as a company. What a legacy,” she said. “H&P is over 100 years old and there's so much commitment from all these generations of H&P families. It's a huge honor.”
Seeing the Helmerich family’s impact across the city, she was always aware of H&P as a company.
“In Tulsa, you're surrounded by the Helmerich name and the good that family has done in philanthropy and supporting community development,” she said. “That has always been special, and I think most people in Tulsa can attest to that.”
Kern began as an intern in electrical engineering under Dewayne Speer. This was prior to the technology acquisitions like DrillScan, MagVar and Motive. H&P’s primary focus was drilling rigs, and all the engineering offices were still located in Tulsa. After a few summer internships, she joined full-time.
“Every job I've had since my engineering position hasn't existed before,” she said. “When you start in these new positions there's usually an incredible need for them. It’s an opportunity to establish a sense of ownership in the role.”
Kern’s current job in industry affairs centers around thought leadership. She is strategizing how H&P should represent itself at industry events and in publications.
“We have so many great minds at H&P, people who can take ownership of some significant movements in the industry,” she said. “My role in industry affairs exists to be strategic about promoting and using that to our benefit, making sure we're looking for unique ways to intentionally partner with industry organizations and our peers and operators to communicate and highlight the technology and innovation in our industry.”
As H&P increases its conference involvement in areas such as Norway and the Middle East, we can’t assume people understand H&P and its values. It takes months of planning to decide which publications or technologies H&P should highlight in technical papers and who should present or speak on panels. Industry affairs also takes into consideration who is listening to presentations, attending a conference or sitting alongside H&P employees on a panel. Diversity in both thought and representation are priorities.
“People who are seeing us now may have known about H&P since they were young, because they grew up in Tulsa," Kern added. They might have been in Texas and found H&P when they were in college getting their petroleum engineering degree. Maybe they interned on an H&P drilling rig or they’re in the Middle East and don’t know anything about us. They may be in the North Sea, working in Norway or Scotland and don't know anything about land rigs. We have to account for all backgrounds and anticipate what will or will not resonate.”
At a national level H&P’s presence is notable within the industry due to our market share in the U.S. Internationally, Kern oversees what technologies and papers H&P presents that will pique interest for a new audience. She notes it’s important to have a diverse group of people in attendance at these conferences.
“As H&P has evolved over the years, it’s led to new technology developments, new goals, new priorities, new opportunities, and new ways to demonstrate our value as thought leaders in the industry landscape,” she said. “The future of energy is exciting!”