Education: BS, Mineral Engineering Mathematics, Geophysics Specialty, Colorado School of Mines; MBA, Finance and International Business Specialties, Rice University
First Job: Geophysicist, Phillips Petroleum Company
What I'm Reading: The Korean War in Color, Recollections and Photos of a Combat Photographer, written by my dad, M. Edmund Vallejo
My Philosophy: Make the most of your God-given talents, have life balance, and give back.
Family: My #1 priority! Husband Scott Irvine and kids Elise, Elena and Eli.
Interests: Travel, piano, and gardening.
Favorite Charities: Teach for America, United Way, my kids’ schools
Frances Vallejo • ConocoPhillips
Vice President and Treasurer2010 award winner
When I was a child, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I envied those who did. Fortunately, my loving and supportive family gave me opportunities to explore and learn and choose what I wanted to do.
I was good at math and science, so I chose the best engineering school in my state, the Colorado School of Mines. It wasn’t until I was forced into a decision that I chose my major – engineering mathematics with a geophysics specialty.
After graduation I joined ConocoPhillips and spent six years as a geophysicist. I enjoyed it, but felt I had other things to offer. So I moved into natural gas supply. It was a learning experience, but still not home. So I pursued an MBA, not to change my career, but to gain the knowledge. I was hired back into our treasury function, then moved into the strategic transactions group while our company was growing through mergers and acquisitions.
Today I serve as vice president and treasurer for ConocoPhillips. To me, it’s the best job in the company. I didn’t plan this career path, but I was open to change, and management was open to trying me in new areas. It has turned out well.
The bottom line to me is choosing work you are passionate about and enjoy, doing your job well, and focusing on the task at hand. Trust in yourself and your abilities, and trust that you will be recognized for them. People who spend too much time worrying about their next promotion probably aren’t doing their job.
My parents told me growing up that it was okay to be anything, high or low on the ladder, but to be the best at it. This is all the guidance I’ve needed. I’ve also benefited from the support of my husband and three children, and our shared success at allocating our time to the activities most important to all of us. I’ve also had supportive managers as well as employees.
Further, I’ve benefited from seeking out “not-my-job” activities. Whether serving on a cross-functional team of colleagues addressing a work need, or assisting a community or charitable organization, you will expand your skills and demonstrate your talents to a wider group of people. And one day, these new skills or people may lead to your next opportunity.