Learning from people around him
Alumni Series Where are they now?: Mining Engineering alumnus Kevin Dickey
Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Surrounding himself with people he could learn from started early for Kevin Dickey.
“After retiring from the Air Force, my dad purchased a hotel and bar in his hometown, where miners would gather after work. I grew up hearing about the mining industry,” Dickey said. “I considered going into the Air Force Academy to become a pilot but my eyesight was imperfect, which impeded my acceptance. Taking my dad’s advice, I decided to pursue mining engineering.”
Dickey enrolled at WVU and quickly took advantage of opportunities presented in the Department of Mining Engineering.
“I was very active in the Society of Mining Engineers and took several leadership roles, including the president of SME,” Dickey said. “I always thought this was a way to develop skills that were important in the business world beyond the technical knowledge I was learning in my classes every day. I always found internships and co-ops through the summer, which helped me purchase my first car, as well as my first real estate assets.
“Being a mining engineer, I realized many of the skills I was learning were transferable to other areas/industries, and I leverage these skills to this day.”
After graduating from WVU in 1994, Dickey worked in various underground mining roles at Consol Energy, and then moved into the petroleum industry.
“I wanted an opportunity to grow my real estate business while having more structured work hours. I realized that the petroleum industry wanted mining engineers to help promote their products and technologies into the mining industry,” Dickey said. “It was a great opportunity for me because I stayed in touch with my roots but developed a wealth of knowledge that went beyond what I had been exposed to in my early years as a professional.”
After several years in the petroleum industry, Dickey was approached by Quaker Chemical (now Quaker Houghton), who was looking for someone to develop their global mining industry from the ground up. The position, Dickey said, was attractive because it allowed him to use the skills he developed in both mining and petroleum engineering.
“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit so the opportunity at Quaker allowed me to be entrepreneurial while working for a global leader in the chemical industry.”
As vice president for global energy with Quaker, Dickey manages the company’s global organization but is also invested in new product development.
“It is very important for our business to stay in tune with the everchanging needs of our customers and the demands for superior products that respond to the challenges they face,” Dickey explained. “These challenges can be operational, or related to health, safety and the environment. My experience working underground left a big mark on me, and I have always been committed to creating products that have mine and miner safety at the forefront. However, as a businessman I understand that in a commodity market it is important for companies to remain profitable, so my job at Quaker is basically to create products that respond to both. I develop our strategy on a global level, develop our product portfolio and lead a highly skilled global team of mining experts.”
Jim Dean, former director of mining and industrial extension at WVU, remembers Dickey as a student, having taught his section of Underground Equipment Selection.
“A lot of Kevin’s mentorship came from Calvin Kidd, who has a long history of working with our students,” Dean said. “Calvin has supported our chapter of SME and made sure that students like Kevin had the opportunity to attend professional meetings. Calvin actually joined Quaker in 2012 as global director of business development for the energy and mining division of the company and reports directly to Kevin.
“Kevin has been incredibly supportive of the Department of Mining Engineering as well as the Department of Mining and Industrial Extension,” Dean continued. “Quaker has made financial contributions to the Center for Mine Training and Energy Technologies, and has assisted us with start-up costs for WVU’s student mine rescue team.”
Dickey credits his professional and personal success to his ability to learn from the people around him.
“Learning from the people around me, whether it be from their accomplishments or mistakes, inspired me to become the person I am today,” Dickey said. “I always advise my children to surround themselves with people they can learn from, and I ask them to be positive members of their community who inspire others. As humans we have a responsibility to help each other constantly improve. Do not be afraid to think about the future and share your life with someone. At the end of the day, family is where I have found my greatest happiness, and you need to invest time into this area to truly understand what fulfillment really means.”
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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