Rod Walton: Robyn Ewing, Allison Bridges excel as energy execs
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 7:03 AM
Robyn Ewing and Allison Bridges didn't have a lot of role models to help map their career paths in the energy industry. Women numbered few and far between on the corporate ladders of oil and gas companies.
Even so, Ewing and Bridges have risen to preeminent positions at Williams Cos. Inc. Ewing was promoted to senior vice president and chief administrative officer last year, while Bridges is senior vice president overseeing the company's West operating area.
"Honestly, I never really focused on the fact that I was a female in what historically might have been considered a more male-dominated industry," Bridges said. "Instead, I focused on being the best I could be."
My column in last Sunday's Tulsa World noted that gender diversity is still lacking at the top levels of most oil and gas companies, including locally. Williams, WPX Energy, ONEOK, Matrix Service Co., Helmerich & Payne and Magellan Midstream Partners combined had 41 men in executive positions and only five women, according to company websites.
Ewing credited her parents for giving her encouragement to make her name in the industry.
"My dad was in the oil and gas business, and it felt very natural to pursue my career in this arena," she said.
Bridges and Ewing lauded Williams, which is more than 100 years old, for being out front in hiring and promoting women. Traditionally, Ewing noted, oil and gas companies were run by engineers, and those degree programs weren't pursued by women to the extent they are now. Women sought finance and accounting degrees and gained success there.
"Women in finance and accounting historically found the big accounting firms an attractive place to pursue their careers," Ewing said. "The firms were better about designing policies that give flexibility to work schedules. They also stay in contact with women who leave to raise their kids, so as to leave the door open for a return."
Bridges worked for Transco Pipeline when it was bought by Williams. Her subsequent route to upper management included making her mark in various jobs for the company.
"My experience is that the work has always been interesting and challenging," she said. "Over the years I've been fortunate to have worked with so many great fellow employees and talented leaders at Williams, many of whom I consider mentors and role models that helped shape me as an employee."
The stories of women like Ewing and Bridges should give hope to others who want a chance at breaking through the glass ceiling.
Original Print Headline: Women excel as energy execs