How did you get into process management?
I actually went to Oklahoma State University to become a veterinary technician. I had worked in a vet clinic since I turned 16. I loved hanging out with the animals and seeing how they were cared for. My first year in college, though, I realized I was in over my head, and that I actually had a passion for the management and the back-office work of a vet clinic. I decided to switch gears and pursue my business management degree through the agribusiness school. Being in the ag college was really fun for me because I grew up in the city, and through the agribusiness school, I was able to take a lot of classes that took me to horse farms, pig barns and dairy farms. I was intrigued by it. I could have gone through the business school, but because I was still interested in owning or managing a vet clinic, my advisor suggested going through the agribusiness school. The classes were nearly identical, except the ag college uses agriculture examples rather than general business. As an added bonus, I ended up meeting my husband through the program, so I firmly believe that’s why God had me in the ag college.
Allison, her husband Jeremy and children Hailey and Jackson on a RV vacation.
But you didn’t end up working in a vet clinic?
No! Halfway through my senior year, I realized I had all my credits. Since I wasn’t interested in graduating early, I took volleyball and CPR, but I also took a couple courses in event management and coordination. I fell in love. It had all the aspects of coordinating a vet clinic, but it also pulled in my creative side. I heard Chesapeake Energy had an event coordination group, but it was small. I was able to get a different job there to get my foot in the door, with the idea of working toward a role in event coordination. My grandfather worked in oil and gas, so I knew a little about the industry. Chesapeake is also a huge employer in the area, and this was back in its heyday, when everyone was talking about how it was the best place to work with the best benefits.
Tell me about your time at Chesapeake.
It felt like I went from college to college again. It was so big and exciting with a lot of fellowship. I started out in their geoscience division, helping prepare documentation for well drilling. I worked in that department for about seven years, building up my knowledge and technical background, creating maps and learning how geology works. I ended up climbing the ladder as high as I could go on the admin side without getting my geology degree. It would have been fun, but I was having kids at the time and didn’t have the time, money or drive to do that, so I needed to find something else. I joined the new process improvement group at Chesapeake. I worked on helping understand process and the Lean Six Sigma methodology, which involves continuous improvement and understanding a process step-by-step to improve efficiencies. I ended up getting the top certification in Lean Six Sigma, a black belt, through Chesapeake and have a real passion for that methodology.
How did you end up at Blueprint?
Unfortunately, Lean Six Sigma was not well understood or utilized at Chesapeake. The company was also beginning to downsize. My previous manager was working at Blueprint, and she had tried to recruit me to Blueprint early on, but I was in my own little bubble that prevented me from seeing the opportunity that was in front of me at the time. When she tried again a year later, I saw the opportunity to not only do what I loved to do, which was process improvement with technology, but I could drive the direction and make an impact. I decided I needed to make the move, and now I look back and realize I made the best decision in my life.
What have you enjoyed most about working at Blueprint?
The attitude and atmosphere of teamwork here is amazing. Everyone here in the South Central region has a problem-solving mindset and works together to find solutions and support each other. Nobody is out for themselves – we are in it to help each other and solve problems together. And on top of that, I get to do what I love to do, which is process improvement and helping clients realize where they can save money and time.
What is the coolest thing you’ve done at Blueprint?
I worked with Andrew Redman (Blueprint software development lead) on a project with a water logistics company. It was the first time I really got to use my Lean Six Sigma background. I went in and interviewed people and got to understand their pain points and where they saw issues. From that, I was able to identify gaps that we could solve and work with Andrew to figure out how technology could help the company solve its problems. It was great because they saw the value in removing steps that didn’t need to be there, which is huge. We can automate a process, but if it’s a bad process, you waste valuable time automating it. Their current processes included a lot of manual effort. They’d check a ticket to make sure it was transcribed correctly, then send it to someone else to re-check it, then send it to accounting to make sure it matched the invoice – it was a lot. The way Andrew automated that process allowed them to perform a single quick check and then have the computer flag any issues. To see the confidence the company had in the automation was really cool. Andrew and I got to demonstrate how process and technology could come together to solve a problem.
What do you do outside of work?
I like to hang out with my kids. Because my computer can travel, we’ve been able to take several RV trips around Oklahoma and really explore the state. I’ve lived in Oklahoma my whole life but there are a lot of places I’ve never been and some of those places are only an hour away. We visited 10 different state parks and stayed at seven of them. Getting to hang out with my kids and see them enjoy nature and not be glued to a tablet or electronics has been really exciting. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with my family and watching them learn how awesome nature and the outdoors can be.
Allison and her family (including her biggest inspiration, her dad) on vacation in Colorado.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your life?
I’d have to say my dad. He doesn’t like to dive into the details, and I’m a very detail-oriented person, so he grounds me in the sense that life is much bigger, and I need to embrace life and enjoy it. He taught me not to get bogged down in all the small things. He also taught me I have to go after the things I want and about how to live life with my faith. Everything I’ve been able to achieve in my life is a testament to letting my faith guide me and just letting things happen.
If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, what would it be?
I wish I would have listened to some advice my mom gave me when I was younger. She told me to be myself, have confidence in my ability and go after what I wanted. I wish I would have had a little bit more confidence, so when I wanted something to be different, I could have made a change and not worried about every little thing. It is hard because I also strive not to regret anything. If I could change anything, I don’t know that I would. The past made me who I am today – I am more confident now because I had to fight for who I am.