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Energy Workforce & Technology Council 90th Anniversary
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Faces of the Energy Workforce: High-Performer Spotlight, Kate Aschwege, Brigade Energy Services

Kate Aschwege, Corporate Accounting Manager, for Brigade Energy Services, is a graduate of the Energy Workforce Executive Leadership Program. She recently shared her insights on the energy services and technology sector.

Energy Workforce: What is your role with the company? What are your core responsibilities? What does a typical day look like?

KA: My role at Brigade Energy Services is Corporate Accounting Manager. My core responsibilities are preparing timely and accurate financial statements, operations reporting packages, and managing the accounting functions of accounts receivable, accounts payable, and fixed assets. Generally, the accounting close process and function. One project that I have enjoyed in the last year is developing a real-time rig-level P&L with our IT team. I have enjoyed this project because it has revealed areas where we can make improvements in our processes and procedures to get more accurate and timely data.

A typical day for me generally involves team meetings, ad hoc data or reporting projects and working with our operations team on anything they may need. My goal is to be a resource to the organization and make sure that our group can provide as much value as possible to operations.

EW: Why did you join the energy industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?

KA: My great-grandfather and my grandfather were both petroleum engineers, so the energy industry has been a part of my family’s history. However, I did not plan to end up in the industry until my junior year of college at the University of Wyoming. I attended a job fair luncheon with Anadarko Petroleum where they talked about oil and gas accounting and the industry. I was very interested in the operations of oil and gas and the unique accounting within the industry. I decided that day that I wanted to work in the energy industry. It was difficult to get my first oil and gas accounting job because of how competitive our industry is but I stayed the course. I am so glad that I didn’t give up!

EW: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?

KA: I have been so fortunate to have had several amazing mentors throughout my career thus far. I am not sure I could pick just one, however, the accounting team at Bill Barrett Corporation was one that I will always be so fond of and grateful to have been a part of. Our team was something that I will always try to replicate, and the foundation I gained working there is something I lean on every day. I think the two biggest lessons I learned at Bill Barrett are “Always be studying the business as a whole and understand why what you’re doing is important and what it affects” and “Don’t be scared to ask questions, people admire when someone is brave enough to ask.” These lessons have guided me for the rest of my career and are proving to be valuable time and time again.

EW: What has surprised you most about the industry? 

KA: I think the thing that surprises me most about the industry is the collective desire and necessity to be innovative. I am sure it is a mixture of ever-changing shareholder expectations, political environment, and economic landscape but there always seems to be a hurdle that the industry is collectively trying to get over. The tenacity of the professionals in our industry is so evident, and the ability to innovate and advance is inspiring.

EW: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?

KA: There are two areas I am excited to see develop over the next five years for our industry. The first is safety initiatives, which share information between companies and groups to find solutions that work for the industry as a whole and increase the safety of our workforce. The second is the area of carbon capture. I think that the innovative and proud spirit of our industry is going to be the ingredient necessary to find the right technology to move the needle on environmental stewardship.

EW: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future? 

KA: I hope that I can be a mentor to others and therefore have an impact on the future leaders of our industry. I hope that as I advance in my career, I can continue to advocate for our industry.

EW: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?

KA: I attended a COPAS event in Denver and heard Chris Wright speak about the influence that access to clean energy has on human development, health, and advancement. I remember being so proud of our industry and what we provide for our communities and the world. If you have not heard Chris speak, I highly recommend attending a conference where he is a speaker.

I think our CEO Justin Bliffen is another person who has influenced how I think. I think our culture at Brigade can be seen throughout the industry, but it is one of ownership and pride. We strive to not just be good but to be the best. Justin has high expectations for all of us including himself and I respect his leadership a lot. I am proud to work at Brigade and being proud of where I work motivates me to be a good leader to my team.  

EW: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?

KA: The technology that I have seen that is so impressive to me is the Direct Air Capture and Geologic Sequestration of carbon dioxide that Oxy is developing. I love the idea of a net zero barrel of oil, and I think that it really demonstrates our industry’s spirit of innovation.

Secondly, A technology originated from Kuala Beers in Australia is rejuvenating the old, depleted oilfields. Microbial/Organic Oil recovery is one of the differentiators for me.

The energy industry is evolving at unprecedented levels, so I can name many exciting new technologies.

EW: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the energy industry?

KA: I think that the advice I would give someone just getting started in the energy industry would be to learn about how we do what we do, ask questions, and then apply what you learn to the tasks that you do each day. I would tell them that a strong work ethic goes a long way and that they should be ready to ride the wave because there are ups and downs in our industry. The last thing I would tell them is to not get stuck in their ways but to always be open to new ideas.

EW: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?

KA: The things that I wish other people knew about oil and gas are that the industry is innovative with the environment in mind and that our industry is very generous.

EW: What do you do for fun or what’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

KA: The thing I love to do is ride horses. I grew up showing reining horses and I think there is nothing better for the inside of a person than the outside of a horse. My perfect vacation right now would probably be going to Norway or Sweden. I am interested in the history of the Vikings and currently, this is a big bucket list item for me.

EW: What’s a fun fact people would never guess about you?

KA: One thing that may surprise people to know about me is that I took a year off of accounting and pursued a career in nursing during the pandemic. Accounting worked best for our family and so I came back. However, I found that nothing makes me feel better than helping others and seeing how a small act of kindness can have a positive impact.

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