The year 2007 has been one of celebration for the Oklahoma City (OKC) chapter. As the commonwealth of Oklahoma celebrates its centennial, we are reminded of the significant role the oil and gas industry has played in the development of the state. Oklahoma is the third-largest gas producer in the United States, with more than 80,000 producing oil and gas wells. This year also heralds the 50th anniversary of the SPE Mid-Continent Section. Last but not least, the OKC Young Professionals (YPs) Section had its second successful year, and membership is now well over 200.
In 2005, a group of YPs frustrated with low young-member turnout and involvement in SPE activities decided to do something about it by creating their own YP chapter. Since its inception, OKC YP involvement has increased dramatically, and young members are actively registering with the group and with SPE. “We have seen a 100% increase in SPE membership for people in the 20–35 age group,” said Stephen Ingram, YP Committee president. “We started this group with the purpose of keeping young professionals’ interest high by focusing on their specific needs.”
In a recent visit to the SPE OKC Chapter, 2008 SPE President William Cobb, recognized the efforts of the YP chapter and its members. The YP chapter believes its success results from to a consistent approach to excellence and involvement. The group started with a vision of maintaining YP involvement outside the university student chapters. Efforts are constantly maintained to keep a balance between three pillars of success—educational programming, networking events, and community involvement.
The OKC YP Chapter hosts monthly luncheon meetings open to oil and gas professionals of all ages and experience. The goal, while emphasizing issues concerning YPs, is to also to facilitate sharing and learning by experienced members. Monthly topics typically alternate between E&P basics, soft skills, and technical discussions.
The second pillar of the chapter’s success, networking events, comes from the commitment to build a large, active YP membership base. This is being accomplished through several networking opportunities, including the annual YP Executive Evening— a business formal held at the Oklahoma Museum of Art. This event is designed to allow networking opportunities with the most successful local executives within the industry. There have been additional monthly networking events as well, and the chapter has made a point of expanding activities beyond Oklahoma City, with encouraging participation levels.
SPE Ambassador Lecture Series
The Ambassador Lecturer Program is designed to connect university students with the oil and gas industry through programs and lectures presented by YPs in the industry. Two local YP members have made presentations within this format, John Daniels to Oklahoma University and Stephen Ingram to Texas Tech University.
Involvement with Oklahoma University
At Oklahoma University, encouraging students to be a part of SPE is second only to emphasizing the importance of doing well in school. SPE is the bridge connecting students to everyone else in the industry, providing contacts and an atmosphere for learning the challenges and their respective solutions in the industry today.
However, SPE does not end after college, and YPs in OKC have stepped up to the challenge of embracing students to ensure the best transition into the workplace. YP and student interaction gives students not only friends but mentors who have recently answered questions students are asking about the workplace. The interaction drives these bonds, and the OKC YP Chapter has teamed up with SPE the Oklahoma University (OU) Student Chapter to provide as many opportunities as possible. The involvement is almost incredible. OU SPE members attend the OKC YP luncheons and dinners, OKC YP supports the OU SPE golf tournament every year, and YPs have many of their own mentors building relationships with students.
Oklahoma City High School Annual Science
and Engineering Fair
The SPE parent chapter has long been involved with the Oklahoma City High School Annual Science and Engineering Fair, supporting hard sciences at the high-school and younger levels. The YP group, through volunteering, has supported this event at the Oklahoma City OmniPlex since inception. This full-day event draws thousands of Oklahoma City students ranging from elementary to high school. For the oil and gas industry, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase engineering complexities that can pique the interest of young minds and provide the community with insight into the industry.
SPE/YP International Workshop
Three active OKC YP members were directly involved with the 2007 SPE Young Professionals Workshop, titled “Realizing Your Potential,” held in Kananaskis, Alberta. Two members, Aaron Ketter and Stephen Ingram, were committee members for this second-time annual event, which was structured around career management, team skills, and networking. This workshop generated the highest survey rating ever for an SPE event, an A plus.
The third Pillar of the chapter’s success comes from its dedication to the community. The chapter has championed the Willow Springs Boys Ranch (WSBR) as its special philanthropy. WSBR is a long-term residential childcare facility for boys in grades 7–12. Boys are able to live on the ranch until they graduate from high school or obtain their general equivalency degree, or they can participate in an independent-living program after their time at WSBR. The ranch takes boys who are orphaned, abandoned, in need of supervision, or from broken or dysfunctional homes.
SPE YPs Host Mardi Gras Gala Benefiting Oklahoma Youth
The chapter wanted to do something specific to support WSBR and decided to hold a large event. Colby Fuser, former chapter charity coordinator, came up with the idea of an Oilfield Mardi Gras Gala Benefit. The gala, hosted at Nonnas Ristorante, brought together more than 80 people for an evening on the town. Dressed to the nines, partygoers had the opportunity to bid on silent-auction items or simply make donations. The event brought in more than USD 6,000 for WSBR, but more importantly raised awareness about the diversity and needs of the community. Given the great success of the gala, the chapter has chosen to make it an annual event.
For more information on the OKC YP Chapter, please contact the chapter at OKC-YP@spemail.org.