Cindy Kyle, president and CFO of Kirkpatrick Oil Company Inc., keeps a small jar of oil in her office to remind her of her company’s rich history and the oil and gas industry’s deep roots.
The jar is labeled “Oil from the Blake Well,” a well drilled by M.B. Blake in 1945 that’s still producing today. Blake was the father-in-law of John Kirkpatrick who started Kirkpatrick Oil in 1950.
Kyle said the company remains committed to profitably finding, developing, producing and selling oil and gas in the Mid-Continent region, as well as exploring drilling opportunities there and in other focused areas. Kirkpatrick Oil recently made a small acquisition, she said, and is about to close on another.
Kyle, who joined the company in 2009, has more than 30 years of experience in financial analysis, accounting, and planning/forecasting in the energy industry, including 22 years as a domestic and international manager with Kerr-McGee. With Kirkpatrick Oil, Kyle oversees an Oklahoma City staff of 28 and a branch office in Hennessey. She succeeds Mike Steele, who retired Sept. 1 after 25 years’ service.
From her third-floor offices at 1001 W Wilshire, Kyle sat down with The Oklahoman on Monday to talk about her life and career. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: I’m from Duncan. My dad was an executive for Halliburton Services and my mother was a stay-at-home mom to me and my two brothers, who are three and seven years older, and today live in Houston and Choctaw. My parents grew up in Durant. My father attended Southeastern and was recruited by Halliburton to play on the company’s basketball team. He also loved to golf; we spent many family vacations in Bella Vista, Arkansas.
Q: What was your thing as a kid?
A: I played softball, first and second base, and forward on the six-on-six, half-court girls’ basketball team. My father had me shooting hoops in the backyard early. Meanwhile, my mother carted me and my friends all over the place, and volunteered for the county election board, the PTA, my high school social club, and everything else we were involved in. She taught me tolerance and leadership. My mom was my hero and my best friend.
Q: Do you think you’re a better professional and manager because you played sports?
A: Absolutely. I learned to be competitive, to set goals, to work with others as a team, and to get things done through others. At OU, I played intramural basketball, and in the workplace, for Kerr-McGee’s coed softball team. In one memorable softball tournament up north, we took second or third place after fighting back through the losers’ bracket. I played until my early 40s.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I went to work for the Duncan Banner at age 14. I was the newspaper librarian, in charge of maintaining the microfilm files, and wrote a yesteryear column with highlights of happenings 10, 15 and 25 years ago. I also worked throughout college at OU; I liked the independence of helping pay my way through school and feeling responsible. I worked part-time for a title company my freshman year. The next three and half years, I worked full time for the Owl’s Nest at Sooner Fashion Mall and took night classes. Initially, I worked in the front of the store, but moved to the back office, doing books. I took my first accounting class in high school, loved it, and decided to major in accounting. Kerr-McGee interviewed me on campus at OU, and following graduation, hired me for the corporate management training program.
Q: What were some of the highlights of your 22 years with Kerr-McGee?
A: I helped implement financial systems in our China office and traveled to Beijing two separate times for two weeks. I also was the acting supervisor for Indonesia and others. In preparation for Y2K, I worked for a year and half to move us off the mainframe and then, of course, the feared millennium bug of the year 2000 turned out to be no big deal. For four years, I worked for the Kerr-McGee subsidiary KM Chemical, which focused on the titanium dioxide pigment in white paint. It was good experience to see a different financial and accounting system. I also got to see Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. For the four years prior to retirement, I came back to oil and gas, and worked in Houston. I once visited an offshore rig on the Gulf Coast. I love being where the action is.
Q: What brought you from Houston home to Oklahoma? And what led you to Kirkpatrick Oil Co.?
A: I decided to retire from Kerr-McGee when we merged with Anadarko. I was offered a permanent position in Houston, but I wanted to get home to family in Oklahoma. My mother was in failing health with complications from diabetes, and I was coming home frequently to help care for her. Sadly, she died the year before I moved home in 2007. (My dad died in his early 60s of brain cancer.) Once back in Oklahoma, I took a two-year breather and, when I felt drawn to go back to work, wanted to try the private side of the business. Fortunately, Kirkpatrick Oil had an opening for a brand-new CFO position. Within the year, I not only was overseeing finances, but also human resources, risk management and information technology. The private side of the oil and gas industry fits me best. I’ve been able to touch all aspects of the business, and have learned so much. I’m honored to join the ranks of an exclusive group of women presidents to lead an oil and gas company.
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