Educated Woman of the Week- Rebecca Winkel

The American Petroleum Institute; Economic Advisor

B.A Economics, Master’s of Public Policy, Brigham Young University

Rebecca Winkel works as an economic advisor for the American Petroleum Institute (API) where she has been for more than four years. As a member of the Policy Analysis department Ms. Winkel helps ensure that API’s research is defensible and of the highest quality.

She directs all research on workforce development and STEM education for API, with a special focus on promoting the industry’s work with non-traditional allies. This research includes studies on employment projections, educational attainment trends, building trades and labor unions, supplier diversity, and workforce development issues for minorities, women, veterans, and millennials.

Ms. Winkel works closely with API’s External Mobilization team on grassroots outreach and advocacy in these communities. She also works on a variety of other issues at API, including well activity counts, GHG emissions, LNG exports, and county development. She is an expert in the DrillingInfo database and provides GIS mapping services to all API departments.

Ms. Winkel graduated summa cum laude from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in economics and also holds a Master’s in Public Policy, also from BYU.

Briefly tell us about your life outside of School/Work:

My husband and I have been married for almost 7.5 years and we have a darling 9 month old daughter. She is happy and chatty and loves to explore, and we love helping her learn about the world. We love to travel as a family, especially to warm places—I grew up in San Diego and I love warm weather and the beach! I love to cook and experiment with new recipes, and I love to eat out and try new foods.

What was the greatest barrier on your path to awesomeness, and what did you do about it??

The greatest barrier I have faced professionally was being new, young, and inexperienced. I knew I could work hard and be successful, but nobody else did—I was the youngest in my department by quite a few years and was the only woman. I had to speak up, volunteer and insert myself into a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable with at first. I had to suggest projects and make the case on why they were important and why I should run them. A lot of this was outside of my comfort zone, but if I didn’t push for myself nobody else was going to (with the exception of my fabulous mentor mentioned below). By putting myself out there and accepting any work that came my way—and then doing a great job on it—I was able to build a solid network within my organization, gain a good reputation around the building, and build my own niche where I am recognized as the expert.

What do you think matters more in college: grades or networking?

I would say that networking matters more as long as you have respectable grades, though I have really found that networking and good grades go hand in hand. I was a pretty dedicated student and my grades were important to me, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, and I did very well in school. Every job and internship I have had during and post-college I found through networking, but my good grades were usually one of the top reasons people were willing to connect me or hire me.

Who do you go to for support when you are feeling really vulnerable?

Of course the first person I always go to is my husband. He can help me see the best in myself and reminds me of the bigger picture to give me perspective. Professionally I think it’s very important to have mentors that you can turn to when you need help or guidance, and who will fight for you if things are difficult. My first boss at my current job really took me under his wing to help me learn the industry and to establish myself in the organization. He helped me to find my niche and build my portfolio of work, and it’s so important to establish relationships like that. He was the one I always went to if I was concerned or struggling professionally.

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