ADA – Devon Energy Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer Jeremy Humphers has been named East Central University’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2021.
“It’s definitely humbling and it’s an honor,” Humphers said. “It’s hard to take individual credit for it. I have been surrounded by a lot of people who have helped me be successful, and anytime some kind of acknowledgement like this comes my way it’s easy for me to see a lot of people who helped me get there.”
Humphers graduated with honors from ECU in 1996, earning his degree in Accounting. Born in rural Pontotoc County, his first exposure to accounting came at Byng High School. His interest in that initial course would ignite his incredible career trajectory in the years to come.
“It was my senior year that I was able to take an accounting class,” Humphers said. “That class really interested me. When I came to ECU, I really had my eye on the School of Business and in particular Accounting. That’s where I ended up staying and I’ve spent my whole life doing it.”
Humphers has enjoyed a large measure of success in the field, working for two internationally recognized firms in 25 years. He accepted his first job after graduating from ECU with KPMG, one of the largest accounting firms in the world. It was an opportunity that would one day clear a path for more career success. In 1996, it was an early affirmation of his hard work at ECU and he was excited to get started in the business.
“Today when you have good news, you can share it on Instagram or Facebook immediately,” Humphers said. “My wife and I had been married a few months when I received my first job offer while in downtown OKC, and I really wanted to tell her immediately and didn’t know how. I knew there was a mall in Norman with payphones inside, so I drove 20 miles and called her.”
ECU Accounting graduates, widely regarded as among the best available in the industry, are a known commodity at KPMG’s Oklahoma City office. Humphers scored third highest on the state’s Certified Public Accounting exam that year, so he was certainly on the firm’s radar.
“KPMG is a company that has had good success recruiting ECU graduates over the years,” Humphers said. “There were a number ahead of me, some of which are also ECU Distinguished Alums, so that pipeline of people certainly helped. Once I started working there, I was actually able to help a few people who came behind me as well.”
During his early years as an accountant at KPMG, Humphers worked with the banking and finance industries. It was an area that felt comfortable to him because he had worked at an Ada bank while attending ECU, alongside fellow student and future wife Becky Smith.
“Becky is a Stratford girl,” he said. “She and I are the same age and started at ECU at the same time. Our very first semester, we actually had College Algebra together and she sat behind me. It’s the first time I remember us seriously engaging with each other. We also worked together at First National Bank, which is Vision Bank now, and that’s really where our relationship began to grow.”
After a few years servicing those industries, KPMG management – thoroughly impressed with the work Humphers was doing – called an audible. It proved to be a life-changing moment which would ultimately benefit several players.
“One day, all of the [KPMG] partners called me into the office,” he said. “I thought I had done something terribly wrong, kind of like going to the principal’s office.”
Humphers certainly wasn’t in any trouble. On the contrary, his excellent job performance had led to a challenging new opportunity which his management team believed he – among his peers – was best suited to tackle. That new accounting challenge was Devon Energy.
“They told me, ‘Jeremy, we are having trouble keeping the right people serving this client in the right way, so we would like for you to switch industries and work with Devon so we can have some stability serving them.’ It seemed like a great, important opportunity, so I became a person who was a part of the oil and gas industry,” he said.
In the summer of 2003, after a few years working with Devon Energy as a KPMG auditor, another opportunity arose for Humphers. Devon management had recognized and appreciated his good work and offered him a leadership position there.
“It was a time in my life when I wanted to try something different that would be good for my family, so I decided to pursue it,” Humphers said. “It’s been really rewarding. I came to Devon at a time when the industry was growing and flourishing, and I was able to be a part of that.”
It is common knowledge the oil and gas industry is cyclical, and Humphers understood that as he embarked on his new position. He has provided a stabilizing presence for Devon, just as he had while working at KPMG. He is now in his 18th year of service there.
“Today, I oversee the accounting and tax functions at Devon,” Humphers said. “It’s a big job. If it has a dollar sign, I probably have something to do with it. I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and puzzles, and I get to do that most days of the year. It’s fantastic. I have the blessing of working with a lot of really talented people.”
Outside the office, Humphers spends time volunteering his talents. He has served the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Norman Youth Soccer Association, and the ECU Foundation. He is also a deacon and treasurer of the Norman Church of Christ. Throughout all his success, he credits ECU for helping pave the way.
“I couldn’t get the type of scores needed to get a lot of scholarship money, so I was looking for value and East Central was an incredible value,” Humphers said. “I have told people that one of the greatest investments I ever made was my education at ECU. There are three things I think a student should apply to every degree program at ECU – be someone who is curious, be someone who has grit, and be someone who is optimistic.”
Above all, Humphers is a family man. That quickly becomes evident in any conversation with him. He and Becky have been married for 26 years and have two healthy, happy children – his son Jacob, 21, is in college and his daughter Kenady, 18, recently graduated from Norman North High School and is preparing for college in the fall.
“I learned the value of hard work from my dad and the value of giving to others to improve our communities from my mom,” Humphers said. “They wanted their children to achieve all they can and even more than them. When I look at my children, one of the goals I have with them is for them to be more successful and dream bigger than I might have even imagined for myself.”
Humphers has come a long way since that exciting payphone call to Becky in 1996. He knows exactly how important she has been to his continued success.
“Christmas Eve, our sophomore year at ECU, we went on a date and the rest is history,” he said. “She’s wonderful, a cancer survivor, a great mother, very caring of others. Our kids do well because of the care and guidance she gives them. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”