Alumna’s career built on dedicated work ethic and TU principles
(This article was published in the Winter 2015 issue of the TU College of Engineering and Natural Sciences Magazine. Click here to view a complete copy of the magazine.)
Tamy (Travis) Pollard’s story didn’t begin at TU, but it’s where she wrote the best chapters of her college career. A native Tulsan, she was accepted to TU after high school, but family tradition led her to Oklahoma State University. After three semesters at OSU, a family friend gave her a tour of the TU campus where the caring faculty and small class sizes convinced her to stay.
“I loved it,” said Pollard (BS ’84). “I found it very refreshing because the courses were taught by instructors and professors, not graduate assistants,” which had been her previous experience. For her, TU was a much more conducive environment for learning and asking questions.
Despite being the “lone sheep in the family” for transferring to Tulsa, she followed their footsteps in other ways. Her mechanical engineer father and industrial engineer sister were the inspiration behind her choice to study in TU’s prestigious petroleum engineering program. She remembers fondly many of the faculty, past and present — Mohan Kelkar, Kermit Brown and Jim Brill. These dedicated professors mentored students who later became some of the world’s leading energy executives, including Pollard.
As a young alumna, she accepted a position in the reservoir engineering division at Placid Oil Co. in Dallas but soon realized she would need a backup plan. “In the mid to late ’80s, things were not great in the petroleum industry. I was quite cautious with the steps in my career, because good people were losing their jobs,” she said.
Pollard pursued a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, a program geared toward working professionals that offered night and weekend courses. Soon after receiving her MBA in 1992, Pollard’s graduate degree proved to be a smart move. Placid underwent realignment, and she was promoted to manager of corporate planning. She was tasked with ensuring the allocation of capital to the company’s most efficient projects while overseeing assets in the United States, the Dutch North Sea, Canada and several offshore deep-water regions.
Following her time at Placid, Pollard expanded her horizons globally and served as a vice president for the London-based advisory firm Lovegrove & Associates.
After an exciting international schedule that was “different than anything else (she’d) ever done,” Pollard served briefly as the corporate planning manager for Snyder Oil Co. in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1997, she was invited to join several of her Placid colleagues at the small, independent oil firm Rising Star Energy, LLC. With a base of private equity support, the company prospered. Pollard and her partners worked closely with long-time industry peers to grow Rising Star’s assets and attract new opportunities. The business had successfully grown and sold two previous companies and was on its third private equity investment when it was presented with its biggest opportunity to date in 2010. Rising Star offered the highest bid on a package of Permian Basin assets valued at $320 million, so Pollard and her partners quickly prepared for a new phase of development in west Texas.
With the addition of three new partners and the acquisition’s closing, RSP Permian, LLC was formed. The company locked its sights on exploration and development in the Permian Basin and hired additional employees as the company’s drilling program excelled.
“We were very successful and started to outrun our private equity investment model. We needed to go public,” Pollard said.
Three years after debuting in the Permian Basin and with strong encouragement from its equity partner, RSP Permian’s executive board made the decision to access the public market to continue developing its unconventional reserves, a move that requires both horizontal and vertical drilling.
“I had worked for private companies most of my career but had never been involved in a public offering,” Pollard said. “It was quite a whirlwind.”
In the year leading up to the public offering, RSP Permian grew from 26 employees to more than 75 by the end of October 2014. Since the company’s inception in late 2010, its number of producing wells has increased by more than 400 percent. As executive vice president of planning and reserves, Pollard oversees the reserves and development forecasts of the Wolf Berry Play where horizontal drilling has commenced in five different horizons. She is responsible for budget and reserve management, comparing drilling predictions to realtime production, and is involved with analyst meetings and presentations.
Pollard and fellow executives celebrated the company’s initial public offering with the ceremonial ringing of the New York Stock Exchange bell on October 27, 2014.
“The most exciting part of my job is looking at the big picture,” Pollard said. “I like visiting with analysts and bankers, monitoring our well performance and strategizing how we’re going to grow the company.”
When TU introduced her to the oil and gas industry, her interest in reservoir engineering was sealed. She always enjoyed studying energy economics, but Pollard’s success can be traced back to her sincere work ethic.
“I work long hours, but I love wearing a lot of hats and putting sweat equity into my projects,” she said. “When opportunities are presented, you must be able to quickly evaluate and make a decision. I like working with people who aren’t afraid to work hard and take a little risk.”
Throughout her career, Pollard has carried the support of a certain TU alumnus who shares similar values. She met her husband, Tracy Pollard, a 1984 electrical engineering graduate and private defense contractor, in their differential equations class. The couple lives outside of Fort Worth where the extra space allows them to share their love of animals — four horses and a small army of cats and dogs. In addition to following professional and college sports, Pollard competes in amateur three-day horse trials, and her husband plays in a classic rock band.
“It’s a juggling act, but we’re blessed to be where we are,” she said, amidst a career and life that began three decades ago in Tulsa. “TU turned out to be a phenomenal decision with wonderful memories. My education taught me to never stop learning and growing, to continue adding value to projects you work on and the people with whom you work.”