Whitney Salinas, Sustaining Engineering Manager, Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure, is a participant in the Council’s Executive Leadership Program. She recently shared her insights on the energy services and technology sector.
COUNCIL: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
WHITNEY SALINAS: I’m the Sustaining Engineering Manager at Solaris, and my team is responsible for creating fabrication drawings, configuring equipment layouts, designing custom equipment improvements for the field, and much more. Some days we’re at our computers for hours on end working on a single project, other days we’re in the field or back and forth to our shop to help solve new challenges that have just come up.
COUNCIL: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?
WS: My dad has been in the frac sand industry my entire life, so I was raised in that environment and have always had an appreciation for sand’s role in oil and gas. Growing up in Central/West Texas, I also have many friends and family members who have chosen careers within oil and gas. So, when I was presented the opportunity to join Solaris after college, I was excited to see firsthand the next step for sand after it leaves the mine. Today, my dad’s still in the sand industry, my career focuses on frac sites, and my brother works with pressure pumping — so it’s interesting when we’re all together and talk about oil and gas from different perspectives.
COUNCIL: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?
WS: I’ve been blessed with several mentors in my life, and specifically within Solaris. Vaughn Managan was the first person who really invested in me and had faith in me as a first-time engineer. He was always willing to take the time to walk me through conceptual questions I had, no matter how long it took me to catch on. His humility and kindness are something I strive to emulate as a leader myself today.
Scott Lambert has guided my path by giving me my first chance to step into a true leadership role, and by continuing to offer advice and support along the way. Chuck Pendry has also been a great mentor by being a sounding board and offering support and encouragement when challenges arise.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
WS: The networking! Oil and gas is a large industry, but everyone seems to know someone, wherever you go. I’ve been surprised many times by the mutual connections I’ve encountered along the way, and I’ve been impressed by the collaboration between different companies.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
WS: I’d love to see the industry improve its public image over the next five years. Oil and gas generally has a negative connotation with the public, largely due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the industry.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
WS: I hope to play a role in the innovation of the fracking industry over the next several years. I hope to look back 10 years from now and realize I was knee deep in helping support instrumental changes the industry faced as it continually evolves.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
WS: The Council has been phenomenal at providing networking resources within the industry. There’s a sense of camaraderie when talking with other members who work in different sectors but who share the commonality of oil and gas. The Council has also gone above and beyond to provide tools and support that help develop my personal leadership goals, from hosting forums to matching me with a personal mentor.
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the energy services and technology sector that impressed you?
WS: The use of artificial intelligence and remote monitoring to improve the performance of equipment while also reducing equipment failures and creating a safer work environment.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
WS: Be flexible because what you have planned today could change tomorrow. The industry is fueled by innovation, so always have an open mind and be willing to contribute new ideas — something that has not worked in the past could be the ideal solution today.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
WS: Oil and gas is more than the fuel in your cars — it’s fabrics, phones, contact lenses, medical equipment, products that you use every single day. The world depends on this industry that’s run by an entire community of incredibly hard working and resilient people. From derrickhands to CEOs, we all play a vital role in keeping the industry afloat.
COUNCIL: What do you do for fun?
WS: I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my husband and son, whether it’s going on an adventure or just sitting on the couch together – they’re my world! I also love spending time outdoors at my parent’s ranch – managing livestock, riding through the pasture, or working in the heat with my family. Taking care of the land and animals really gives a sense of purpose and accomplishment.