Jill Sharp Enjoying Halliburton Adventures
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Jill Sharp, an Oklahoma State grad and business leader, has enjoyed quite a career journey in a rise with Halliburton that spans 26 years and now features her as Vice President of Finance – Western Hemisphere for the oilfield services company founded in Duncan.
The first in her family to attend college, Sharp earned a degree in accounting from OSU in 1992. She connected with Halliburton during an on-campus career fair and was working at the company less than a month after graduation, beginning a run that took her family – husband James, son Jaxon and daughter Jaden – on an adventure as Jill took on several roles across the globe.
Sharp recently returned to her alma mater for an Eastin Center Speaker Event, detailing her climb with Halliburton in a talk aimed at Spears School students.
Afterward, we caught up with Sharp for a Q&A.
As you reflect on your career with Halliburton, what really stands out to you?
"I think just knowing that I was lucky early to get connected with a company that was how I behaved. So just fitting into that culture – every company has a culture – and that fit was just super special. Knowing that happened for me early just allowed me to have a really long career there."
Staying with a company for so long, that’s not all that common anymore. Why is it good for you?
"It’s worked for me. I’ve had people say, ‘How have you stayed with that company for so long?’ My friends who either graduated with me from OSU, or have been with me through the times, they ask, ‘How are you still with Halliburton?’ Because I moved. And when you move, and you’re flexible, it’s like starting another job, although it’s the same company. I had the respect that got me to those interviews, to those jobs, but then once you get there, it’s like starting over. You’ve got to prove yourself again."
You emphasize the word flexible. Is that the key word for you?
"I use 'we' so much, because your family is helping make these decisions. Dragging my family would not have been the way. We did it together. Having that flexibility, we always talked about it in advance. Those opportunities are going to come, we need to be ready when they come, because they want to know quickly when they offer; again, knowing that’s the culture of the company, that if you want to get somewhere, you’re going to have to be flexible."
Do your children remember all the stops in the journey?
"My husband is a graphic designer and he has taken on photography as his hobby. He has kept very good record of all of our travels, from Calgary when they were young, through all of their travels. We just made the best, nothing that we ever thought that our family would do, but because we moved we were able to experience that. I’m interested to see later in life what that does to my children. Their minds are so open to the world. Even this summer, my son came home from his first year of college and we have these books laying out – these photo books are so easy to produce now – and we all sat around one night and said, ‘We cannot forget. We can’t forget the memories that we made.’ We are trying to keep that spirit alive, for sure."
You were the first in your family to go to college. How has that played out over time?
"A story: my mom and dad wanted to go to Las Vegas this summer. It came out of nowhere. My dad called me and said, ‘I want to go to the Golden Nugget and I want to go to the poker room table.’ I said, ‘OK, I haven’t heard you guys ever talk about this, so I’m taking you to Las Vegas.’ So my dad was playing at the Golden Nugget, at the poker room table, sitting next to a Halliburton guy. They started talking about Oklahoma and the guy said, ‘Hey, I’ve been to Oklahoma a lot, I work for Halliburton.’ And my dad said, ‘My daughter is Jill Sharp.’ The guy said, ‘Your daughter is really important.’ My dad said, ‘I know.’ So this guy is a maintenance manager and I saw him about two weeks ago in Denver at a retirement party. He came up to me and said, ‘Jill, I’ve got to tell you, your father is so proud of you. I enjoyed playing two hours of poker with your dad because he could not stop talking about you.’ How cool is that?"
You grew up in Bethany and went to Putnam City High School. What about those years helped form you?
"I’ve had the question before, do you feel like you were born to be a leader, or did you learn to be a leader? If I have to pick an answer, it’s born. Even in high school, I was on the drill team and I ended up being captain my senior year and just loved the responsibility. So responsibility and taking care of people has never been something I’ve run away from. I saw that early in high school, that I had some leadership skills way back then. I look back and realize I was already figuring out what kind of person I was going to be. Those memories are great. I took accounting in high school and I left knowing that was always what I wanted to do. I was fortunate to have that clarity early in life. And I just kept after it."
What’s it like to be back on campus and talking to OSU business students?
"It’s really refreshing. I haven’t been a great alumni, because my career has taken me out of Oklahoma. You know as your family is growing up, it’s difficult to set priorities. But my family has always known that I’m the Cowgirl in the family. You never lose that school spirit. And even though it was away from it, OSU was always a part of me. It’s taken me a while, but I’m so glad that I’m at a level now that I have a story to tell. Maybe it worked out like it was supposed to. I didn’t have a story before, to get me back on campus. But it feels really good to be here."
What are your impressions of the new building?
"I told everyone at lunch that it felt like I was coming into executive offices. It didn’t feel like a classroom. Really nice."