From the U.S., the United Kingdom, Norway and eventually back to Texas, native Houstonian Terri King of ConocoPhillips describes her career journey in the three following words: “A wild ride.”
“I started out wanting to be the best engineer that I could be,” she said. After receiving her bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Trinity University, King became an engineer. Now, she is a commercial and supply chain leader who works by a specific code.
“I’m listening for how I can support the success of the people that work for me,” King said. “I’m not listening to intervene.”
Early in her career, King found her way back home, becoming a Coog in University of Houston’s Master of Business Administration program and graduating with a finance degree after countless hours of night school.
“It was almost like a mini classroom within itself,” she said, delighting in the diversity of her peers that allowed her to learn from the variety of their experiences.
When asked ‘why Houston?’ King attributes this to the unique vibrancy that the city contains.
“It is a very exciting mix of people. Not a lot of people that live in Houston were born in Houston, and it’s exciting to have a group of people who didn’t all have the same experiences throughout their life,” King said. “Houston – and the U.S. in general – possesses a one-of-a-kind environment that really encourages entrepreneurship. When it comes to the energy industry, you see more of an overall community in Houston.”
Describing Houston as a place with the power to draw people through its promise of opportunity, King works as a member of the Energy Advisory Board to help make it a reality and touts UH’s “orientation to the future as built on the foundation of technical strength.”
“[Vice President of Energy and Innovation] Ramanan [Krishnamoorti] is bringing together students and staff with a broad set of backgrounds and recruiting professors who are multi-disciplinary,” King said. “It has a fantastic purpose and mission. UH listens so much and works with the advice [provided by the board] to see where it takes them. The way the committees work is very effective.”
As someone working on the forefront of the energy transition, King is excited by the challenges that the transition currently faces. Areas like regulatory framework and infrastructure agreements due to a lack of what King termed as a “centrally-planned economy” present themselves as hurdles and puzzles. King advises students to look to these challenges as opportunities.
“For those considering work in the energy industry, you’ve made a good choice by even considering it. Keep an open mind, come in and see what the work is all about,” King said. “Students pursuing this career path will be working with very high [levels] of technology and innovation [to aid in the] responsible creation of energy. Sometimes people don’t think about the quality-of-life improvements that stem from this work.”
With vast experience across the globe, King derives her continued passion from the ability to enable people to have their best career with no regrets. While transforming a struggling business, King undertakes many strategies, but the one strategy that she keeps constant may be particularly useful to any ambitious individual.
“Create within an organization, a dissatisfaction with the status quo,” King said. “To get from good to great you have to be really dissatisfied with good.”