At first glance, Callie Mitchell's road from past to present seems like just another success story.
Mitchell graduated from The University of Tulsa in 1977, she took her
bachelor's degree in business management and - like thousands of other
newly-minted college grads - struck out on her own to find employment
in her chosen industry. And like thousands of other smart, driven,
high-achieving types, success and accolades soon followed.
that's where the similarities end. Now the vice president of enterprise
services for the Williams Companies, Mitchell has carved out a 30-year
career in the male-dominated, rough-and-tumble world of the oil and gas
"In the late '70s it was tough on all women in any
industry," recalls Mitchell. "But I went into an industry where I was
one of three, maybe four women in my area. I learned quickly to
understand the differences between the guys who had been in the
industry 30 or 40 years, and myself, a woman just out of college."
For Mitchell, it was just one more challenging opportunity in a career full of them.
was able to start at a time when women could really make a difference,
and not just in this industry," says Mitchell. "The whole world was
changing its viewpoint on diversity, not just toward women but also
with different ways of looking and thinking about everything. And I was
also blessed with great bosses and mentors."
the skills necessary to navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of
the energy industry were honed during her time at TU. Mitchell, who
grew up in Minnesota and Illinois, came to TU, having never before seen
"I came down here and just fell in love with the
place," she recalls. "The city, the school, everything. Tulsa was
probably the best thing to have happened to me at that time to prepare
me for my career. It was small, they treated everyone equally, and they
instilled a sense of confidence in us that I didn't see the big state
schools doing for my friends."
Mitchell majored in business
management, graduated in 1977 and attended graduate school for a year
until she got her first shot at a job with Mid-America Pipeline, a
Tulsa-based natural gas liquids pipeline company. From there, she went
to work for a natural gas liquids trading company before becoming part
owner of a marketing company.
Along the way, Mitchell managed
to juggle family and career with equal aplomb. She met and married
husband Murphy (BA '77), a "huge TU fan" and football letterman, while
at TU and raised two daughters.
"I actually kind of retired
with my girls a couple times," Mitchell says. "But eventually I ended
back at Getty, which subsequently was bought out by Texaco."
stayed with Texaco for almost 11 years, but after a transfer to
Houston, Mitchell knew what she really wanted was to come home to
Tulsa. When a job with Williams came open, she jumped at it.
"The rest," she says, "is history. I've been here almost 11 years."
her job as vice president of enterprise services - a position she's
held for four years - Mitchell oversees a corporate group with
approximately 100 employees, a budget of million and responsibilities
that include the company's real estate, supplier contracts and
community relations. She also serves as president of the Williams
Foundation, the company's philanthropic organization.
For her many accomplishments, Mitchell was named a 2006 TU Distinguished Alumna, an honor she holds as dear as any she's earned.
was really surprised and honored to be named one of the three
distinguished alumni," says Mitchell. "I didn't know anything about it.
They surprised me at a luncheon."
Mitchell says while some
may see the award as an affirmation of a successful career, she sees it
more as an affirmation of her love for TU.
"Now that I'm at a
point in my career where I can do more for TU, I want to be involved
more," she says. "The bottom line is that I love the school and I love
Tulsa. We have a lot of partnerships going on with the University, and
I want to continue those endeavors."
In essence, says Mitchell, the award says just as much about TU as it does about her.
the '70s there were a whole bunch of very successful women that TU
cranked out," recalls Mitchell. "I think it was just the magic of that
time, the sense of possibility. We were very lucky."
As for any future distinguished alumni still to achieve greatness, Mitchell has a few words of advice:
been a neat ride to have lived through and experienced almost 30 years
of the evolution of this industry," says Mitchell. "It's a roller
coaster. It can be frustrating, but the good news is it makes you
stronger, it makes you wiser, and you learn who your friends are. I
work with these young kids just out of college and tell them 'enjoy
this - savor every moment of it.'"