ConocoPhillips’ Ashley Raborn on why it pays to network — early and often

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    Ashley Raborn’s career is a testament to the power of hard work and a strong network — and starting early with both.

    Ashley, a functional analyst at ConocoPhillips, majored in industrial engineering and management at Oklahoma State University while minoring in mathematics.  She was an active part of the college community there and a member of the Kappa Delta sorority and the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) Student Council, CEAT Ambassadors (which gave tours to prospective students), and the Honors College.

    She also took on the planning for the CEAT Career Fair the summer leading up to her junior year. That role put her in contact with a lot of companies and allowed her to start building a network.

    And when it came to find a job of her own, all that networking worked in her favor.

    “I actually attribute me getting my first interview at ConocoPhillips to someone that went to OSU who works here,” Ashley says. “He knew what all was involved in planning the Career Fair at OSU and recommended I get an interview.”

    She got the interview and the job — and has been with ConocoPhillips ever since.

    Raborn did not always see herself going into the energy field.

    “The only person in my extended family that was even an engineer is one of my uncles and he works for Lockheed Martin,” Ashley recalls. “My family went to visit him in my senior year of high school, and we talked a lot about engineering and the types of careers that are possible.”

    She’s had the opportunity to experience quite a few of them since she joined ConocoPhillips back in 2009.

    Her first role in the company was in business process mapping, and Ashley was able to use her industrial engineering background to help teams look at their processes and find places they could eliminate waste.

    From there, she moved through several different roles until she joined the large group she is in now in January of 2015.

    “Since I joined the team, I have had the ownership of ServiceNow reporting,” Ashley explains. “ServiceNow is an application we use here in IT to submit customer issues, requests, manage infrastructure, etc. In being owner of reporting, I’ve learned a lot about data structure in ServiceNow and have been able to develop my analytical skills.”

    Moving groups a lot at the beginning of her time at ConocoPhillips, Ashley learned the importance of balancing self-initiation and assistance from her supervisor. She also collected valuable advice from her parents that continues to resonate as her career progresses.

    “My mom has been working for almost 40 years at the same company. I truly value the professional advice she has given me not only as my mom, but also a working woman,” Ashley says. “She always told me to never give up on what I want and that I’m my toughest critic.”

    And she credits her father with giving her the piece of advice she passes on the most.

    “The best piece of career advice I can give someone came from a quote my dad gave me, which is: ‘The best way to predict your future is to create it,’ from Peter Drucker. I firmly believe you have to take control of your future to get where you want and do what you want,” Ashley says.

    Ashley says she found ConocoPhillips to be the right place for her because of its focus on its people.

    “We have what we call SPIRIT [Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation, Teamwork] values where the P stands for ‘People,’ and I really believe that is one of the best parts of our company. I love our culture here and firmly believe in our SPIRIT values,” Ashley says.    

    Now, Ashley is looking to take a more active role in supporting the people around her.

    “I’m going to start participating in a mentoring circle here at work and am hoping to learn more about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and how it can help me in my career,” Ashley says. “I’m also part of the IT Inclusion Mentoring program that we are working to start here and have been able to talk with other women and men that see value of finding a mentor to help you along in your career, which I think is very helpful as a woman in the energy industry.”

    To that end, Ashley says never giving up and having self-confidence are essential for women trying to get ahead in a male-dominated industry like energy.

    “If you have an idea of what you want to do, don’t be afraid to try it and put yourself out there. I also think it is smart to surround yourself with other women that have the same goals/values,” Ashley says.