Monthly eNewsletter from the IADC

DC Perspectives: Sarah Kern, H&P – Engineering background opens doors to new opportunities in energy career

In the May/June issue of Drilling Contractor (DC), the “Perspectives” piece provides a snapshot into the professional life of Sarah Kern, Senior Industry Affairs Specialist at Helmerich & Payne (H&P). She is a passionate advocate for the industry, both in her current position at H&P and in her extensive involvement in trade organizations such as IADC. 

Kern’s father worked in IT at H&P, so she grew up around the industry. In high school she was deliberating between a number of career paths until she had an impactful discussion with her aunt, an engineer who was teaching at the US Naval Academy at the time. 

Kern recalled, 

“We were talking about college, and at the time I was considering the entire spectrum of what to major in. We got to the topic of engineering, and she said, ‘Sarah, engineering opens doors.’ That has been so true for me and my career. A degree in engineering gives you credibility and – as many with engineering degrees know – many times it will lead to a job where you’re not an engineer by title. But it teaches you how to think, and the engineering background in the energy space can really help you to excel in your career.” 

Kern studied electrical engineering at Oklahoma State University. She interned at H&P for many summers throughout her college years. Upon graduatation, she was hired by the company as an Electrical Engineer. Two years later she transitioned to a Performance Engineer position, which required frequent visits to drilling rigs to drive continuous improvement.  

Kern later moved to a newly created data-centric role of Marketing Analyst, which was a great fit considering her college minor in marketing. A few years later she moved into another newly created role — which is also her current role — of Senior Industry Affairs Specialist. 

Throughout the years, Kern has been involved in a wide range of IADC and SPE activities, including participating in program committees for many industry conferences. She mentioned that one of her favorite events to work on has been the annual diversity and inclusion session at the IADC/SPE International Drilling Conference. 

She stated, 

“That’s one of my favorite things about IADC. There’s just an eagerness to grow in areas of diversity and inclusion, membership, mentorship, this mindset of embracing what you don’t know so we can all grow from it. It’s so important that we have these events.” 

Kern served as inaugural Co-Chair of the IADC Young Professionals Committee. She now serves as Co-Chair of the Advanced Rig Technology Committee, alongside Blaine Dow of SLB. 

She mentioned, 

“There is so much going on with advanced rig technology, and the spectrum of topics we’re discussing just gets bigger by the moment. We want to look at splitting things down and look for projects with a defined scope and execution milestones. We want to make sure that all of those moving parts we’re seeing are actually moving toward a common goal. Blaine and I are hitting the ground running with the ART Committee.”