NEW TOWN, N.D. — Erin Wanner grew up in a family that owned an oil service company, but she never thought about the industry as a career option for herself.
That all changed after the Dickinson native earned a master’s degree in business and the best job she could find was managing a Walgreens.
“That was the only choice I had. There were not jobs,” said Wanner, who was working in Dallas at the time. “And I had a master’s degree and it was really disappointing.”
In 2005, Wanner decided to return to North Dakota and work with the company owned by her father and uncle, now known as MBI Energy Services.
That led her to opportunities with other oil companies in North Dakota. She began as a landman, pulling deeds at the courthouse and doing title research. After gaining experience with mineral rights, Wanner began working with landowners to negotiate surface use agreements to drill for oil on their land.
Wanner now works as a land professional for Whiting Oil and Gas in Dickinson, overseeing surface operations in North Dakota and eastern Montana. That includes working with landowners and helping implement a program to control dust on gravel roads near the oil activity.
“We work really hard to be a good neighbor and do whatever we can as far as the roads and the fences and all those sort of things to do the right thing,” she said.
Wanner, a graduate of Trinity High School in Dickinson and Dickinson State University, spoke last week to a teacher education seminar at Whiting’s offices near New Town. She encourages other women to consider the oil industry as a career option.
“People need to realize that there’s not just working a shovel or working a wrench in the oilfield,” Wanner said. “There’s every aspect of every industry, there’s finance, marketing, IT.”
While many jobs in the oilfield require long hours and rotating shifts, Wanner said her job allows her to work Monday through Friday. She also has enough free time to participate in rodeos and coach high school girls’ basketball.
Although she didn’t expect to wind up in North Dakota’s oil industry, she said she’s now proud to be a part of it.
“The whole world is watching at this point and to be a part of it, it’s really exciting,” Wanner said.