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7 Questions with Katherine Burk
7 Questions with Katherine Burk
Name: Katherine Burk
Current title: Account Executive
Current organisation: BCS Switchgear
20 years in oilfield & 7 years in the rebuilding efforts of Iraq & Afghanistan after the 2nd Gulf War. I've owned 4 registered companies; 1 of those companies went public on the NYSC. I am a single mother of a 9-year 14 minutes OK about eight sons and I live on the lake in NW Fort Worth, TX. I have lived in 9 states and have owned 11 homes, the one I currently own is the 11th. I went to college at UAH in my 20's working full time, going to college online and at night. I am 6 classes away from my BS in BA. I quit college and moved back home to help look for my little brother who's missing since April 2001. We never found him. A college degree (or lack thereof) does not define a person's skill sets in my opinion. The ability to successfully execute the position requirements with the least amount of fallout is how I rank a person.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
When I graduated HS I went to work at Delta Airlines at the Austin airport in 1994. For 2 years, I worked odd hours, holidays, weekends, storms and with all sorts of people from wealthy to poor. When I had enough of the big politics I went to a temporary agency, took a test, and based on my scores, I was placed as a temporary in the data entry basement for a mid-size O&G company which built offshore platforms, everything from the water's edge and above. The progression was:
1. Data entry clerk (temporary)
2. Purchasing (direct hire)
4. Inside sales
5. Outside sales
6. Field sales
7. City sales
8. VP of my wireline company
9. President of my crane company
10. President of my VRBO rental company
11. President of my consulting firm June 2020
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Daily devotionals with the Lord
Have a VERY positive and relaxed demeanor
Eat a small meal every 4 hours
Take multiple vitamins daily
Go to bed at about 10 pm
Wake up at 630am
Self-motivated & driven to successful output
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Starting over, at the bottom in a new career field is humbling and yet extremely rewarding. I went from TOP of my game, SME in drilling and completions to a green hat, a journeyman in training in electrical engineering. My salary is the lowest it's been in 20 years. I know with hard work and the adaptabilities I have learned in my tenure, I will be at the TOP of my game within a year.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Secret - I don't practice or follow all the content but the main reach of the book is to maintain a good attitude, positivity is key. If you put good vibes out, you will get good vibes back. There will be setbacks, those are growing/teaching moments. It's painful when it happens however I grow the most when opposition comes my way. How I deal with the drama, directly affects my entire life. If I say things are going to work out, they do. My tongue is my rudder in life. What comes out of my mouth is how my life will end up; if I speak positivity and creativity the rewards are positive and most definitely exciting. Every day is a gift from GOD, I treat it as such.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
Lead by example - 100% of the time. When you set your people UP for success and guide them to the promised land collectively we ALL win. When I am not the SME, I will find the SME and stick to them like glue. The smartest person in the room usually isn't the nicest. Taking one's ego out of the equation is KEY!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
At Key Energy, a company I worked for in-field sales purchased another company. They wanted me to train the owner's in completions, they were drillers. During the training, my boss' wanted me to find reasons to fire them. While in the field training them I discovered they were significantly talented and had a desire to become SME in my field of expertise. I couldn't find a reason to maliciously fire them. As time progressed our relationship became stronger. Later, the company I worked for went into an economic crisis and had to sell back the company they had purchased to the men I trained. If I had followed protocol and found fault to fire these men, I would have had to live with that decision. They successfully built their company back to a publically traded company. To this day, if I go to Louisiana I have a very very large family I can call upon at a moment's notice. Our families are still friends, 15 years later. If I had done what my boss wanted me to do, I would have shot my own reputation down. I love the fact, even after all these years 20+ if anyone speaks my name, my reputation as a businesswoman is solid. No one speaks negatively about me. If they do, people will defend my honor without me ever knowing. This is a testament to my character. I will not waiver, never have, never will. This is leading by example.