On Episode 2 of the Oil and Gas Elevate Podcast, hosts Sean McCoy and Eric Johnson interviewed Halliburton Labs Executive Director Scott Gale about the company and its mission. In this Industry Edge article, OGGN contributing writer Stephen Forrester got a chance to talk in more depth with Scott about his incredible life and career journey. In Part I, Scott explores a childhood growing up among eight siblings, the influence of his father on his personal development, early career interests and college studies, and an amazing 2 years as a missionary in Brazil.
Scott Gale was the first of eight siblings, born in the city of Provo, Utah. At around 6 months old, his parents graduated college, packed their bags, and headed to Camas, Washington, a small city of roughly 6,500 people about 30 miles outside of Portland, Oregon. His father was something of a rags-to-riches story. One of the first in his family to get a college degree—a double major in finance and accounting from Brigham Young University, and later an MBA from Washington State University—he worked at a small, family-owned pressure washer manufacturer before eventually becoming the company’s CEO.
The family transitioned from living in a double-wide mobile home to a nice house as his father achieved more and more success, and it was this early example that paved much of the way for Scott’s own journey.
“I got my first corporate paycheck,” he recalls, “before my thirteenth birthday. I would spend every summer at work with my dad; I’d leave at 5:30 in the morning and go to the office each day. I worked in the mailroom, I did small projects, whatever needed to be done.”
An interesting early project was Scott’s “digitization” of instruction manuals for how to use the pressure washers.
Of course, at this point, there was no such thing as truly digital media, so Scott spent a painstaking amount of time faxing each individual page before stitching them together into a single file, which he could then put on a disc. “That fax ringtone,” he says, laughing, “yeah, that’s forever embedded in my head.”
Making minimum wage—at the time, somewhere in the range of $5 an hour—Scott learned early on the value of hard work and being rewarded for your efforts. Looking back on these projects, Scott also realized that they taught him the importance of efficiency, and he’s all too thankful for how far we’ve come with technology.
“I often reflect back on how it took me the entire summer to take these bound instruction manuals, cut the binding, and scan each page in,” he notes, “which would eventually result in a compact disc that we could send out to customers. That would take me an afternoon today instead of an entire summer.”
Through several summers, Scott did it all, working in customer service, helping sales with orders, and even spending time on the assembly line making pressure washer accessories. He also worked in shipping and drove a forklift for logistics. By the time Scott was 15, his father was the CEO, and he later sold the company to a private equity firm. In a twist, Scott had no interest whatsoever in following in his father’s footsteps. “I decided early on that I didn’t want to do what my dad did,” he admits, “but he instilled in me a work ethic that’s always been there.”
In a paper mill town like Camas, the career options were limited—you were either a lumberjack, or you worked as a chemical engineer in one of the mills. In a rural area, the former wasn’t as uncommon as you might think, but the paper mills dominated local employment and economy. With these mills touching many aspects of the peoples’ lives, Scott remembers a few early figures who got him interested in engineering: a neighbor who came over to do a simple repair on the door and then made high-quality paper airplanes out of the construction paper, and a high-school teacher who taught chemistry and trigonometry that happened to be a retired mill worker.
Scott appreciated the act of creation and understanding how the world worked, and he realized that chemical engineering was the glue holding it all together. Scott admits that the path to being an engineer wasn’t particularly clear, as he had many other passions. One was cooking, which he was fond of because of its repeatable nature: follow a recipe, use the right ingredients, and get a result.
“We had a trade school day at the local high school,” he says, “and there were chefs there talking about culinary school. So, I told my dad I wanted to go to the Portland Culinary Arts School. His response always stuck with me: ‘How about you do something that doesn’t end up with you living in my basement?’”
Being a chef, in his father’s eyes, wasn’t a career but a hobby, and he wanted more for his son, which Scott understands now. Scott had an idyllic childhood, growing up playing sports, studying, visiting family in Washington and Utah, and overall, just being a happy kid.
He also visited the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, as his mother had grown up around and eventually graduated high school from the Navajo Nation. The confluence of all the factors affecting his life and personality led to Scott pursuing chemical engineering at Brigham Young University, promising his father that he’d spend at least a semester trying it out before he considered jumping ship to another university, where most of his friends were. He ended up loving Brigham Young, and stayed there for the full degree.
Of course, the high-energy Scott wasn’t content to sit still for too long. After completing his freshman year, he decided to become a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 2 years.
It wasn’t a terribly difficult process; “After determining if you’re fit enough, they really only asked you two questions,” Scott recalls, “‘Do you speak another language, and if so, what is it; and, would you be willing to learn another language?’”
Not too long later, Scott wound up in São Paulo, Brazil, to begin a journey that would inform his character in ways he couldn’t have ever foreseen. “It was absolutely formative,” he says confidently, “and as a 19-year-old kid, showing up in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you hit the street and find people to teach and help and serve. And you do that every day, 7 days a week, for 2 years straight. You focus on the work. There’re no breaks, there’s no vacation; it’s 6:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night, working, doing something, all day every day.” Oh, and Scott could email his family once a week and call home on Mother’s Day and Christmas. How generous of them, right?
The rigor and regime meshed nicely with Scott’s personality, as he appreciated structure and organization. The missionary work also taught him incredible lessons in humility and perseverance, as rejection was the norm. “You’re in the living rooms of strangers,” he says, “talking about religion, talking about their lives, and you really learn to read the room; you don’t understand every word that’s coming out of their mouths, but you can read their faces.” More times than not, you needed to know when to make an exit instead of continuing to pursue the discussion.
Through the 2 years, Scott not only became fluent in Portuguese, but also gained a set of intangible skills that he admits he could never have picked up any other way. Scott was with a companion missionary all day, every day, which though challenging at first, really helped him understand the purpose of such organizational rigidity, of working more closely with someone to achieve a narrow, focused goal.
Brazil was broken up into zones and districts, much like those that sales and operations personnel in oil and gas businesses oversee, with different missionaries offered the opportunity to rise up and effectively manage people in other areas. Scott, during the last 6 months of his mission, was managing 28 missionaries covering an area with roughly 8 million inhabitants. “And at 21 years old,” Scott says, “that was an incredible leadership opportunity.” Another interesting aspect was that the metrics for success were almost entirely personal, an encouragement to pursue meditation and reflection on purpose.
There was, of course, some measurement of success—people met, lessons taught, baptisms—but for Scott, success was self-discovery.
“It’s super hard to walk around in a shirt and tie in the Brazilian heat and stay motivated, engaged, and mentally healthy,” Scott recalls, “especially when you could go weeks and weeks of getting told ‘no’ 12 hours a day. And so, for me, a big part of the success was maintaining my morale, learning about myself, and making it to the end of the journey.”
In an environment where staying is entirely voluntary and you’re paying for all your own expenses, this stands as a testament to Scott’s strength of character and will.
Be sure to check out Part II of the article, where Scott details how he charted a path from Dow Chemical to Halliburton, nurtured his passion for entrepreneurship and networking, and transitioned from managing Halliburton’s hydraulic fracturing strategy to overseeing the company’s clean energy technology accelerator, Halliburton Labs.
This article was written by Stephen Forrester.
In Episode 1 of the Oil and Gas Elevate Podcast, hosts Sean McCoy and Eric Johnson interviewed experts from Texmark, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and CBT about the evolution of Texmark’s “Refinery of the Future.” In Part II of the article, CBT CEO Kelly Ireland takes a closer look at the remarkable partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CBT, Intel, RealWear, and many other tech companies at Texmark’s “Refinery of the Future,” where the entire plant is connected via IIoT technologies and platforms.
When Kelly Ireland graduated high school, going to college just seemed like the thing to do; with a father who was a football coach and a mother who was a teacher, education—and respect for it—ran deeply in the family’s blood. With six siblings all interested in sports, Kelly originally planned to be an athlete, but she found that after 2 years in college, it just wasn’t for her. One thing she always likes to highlight is that leadership and talent don’t require a college education.
“Everyone talks about their degrees, and that’s wonderful,” she notes, “and there are definitely places where you need that; but I think that especially in [informational technology] IT and [operational technology] OT, there are a lot who don’t need that.”
With preference for math and science, the general education required by a degree bored Kelly to death, which drove her to work for a local company as a programmer. This was the 1970s, and Kelly was an IBM RPG II and III programmer—quite early to be a female in that profession.
Moving to California, she started a lifelong journey in the tech industry. Working for General Electric, she laughs about what is now antiquated technology: “I actually worked for them when there were 300-baud modems and phone couplers where you’d take the phone and put it on the cups, and that’s how it transmitted.” As a member of the instrumentation and communication group, Kelly was part of a team that was trying to break into a brand-new market—renting out modems, the first IBM personal computers, and so forth, which was truly cutting-edge at the time.
From there, she moved away from the developer side and into working for resellers like CompuCom, ComputerLand, MicroAge, and many others who were part of the original microcomputer revolution.
“I focused mostly on aerospace,” she recalls, “and I remember, 30 years ago, I was asked why I was working with aerospace. I was told they were impossible to work with and that I’d never get anywhere. Well, about a billion dollars later, I can tell you that’s just not true.”
An early relationship with Boeing, which now spans multiple decades, ignited her passion and carried her forward, even as a later client for CBT.
When founding CBT in 2001, Kelly saw that the culture inherent in tech companies—male-dominated, insane hours, no work-life balance—wasn’t ideal for building and nurturing successful relationships, much less a successful business enterprise. This, combined with an appreciation for the value of teams that stemmed from her father and time in sports, informed a vision for a different kind of company.
“So, when I founded CBT, I believed it was very important that work-life balance be something we fostered,” Kelly says, “not necessarily for me, but for my team. It’s not rocket science: take care of your employees, they take care of your customers, and your customers buy more. And I can tell you that’s extremely true; we have really happy employees, and really happy customers.”
Learning how to integrate IT and OT has driven the company to new heights in the past 4 years, much of their success on the back of the Texmark Refinery of the Future project in Galena Park, Texas.
Originally a standard value-added IT reseller, Kelly saw in the mid-2000s that Boeing was venturing into high-performance computing, and she felt that CBT needed to do the same thing. Bringing in resources that could support high-performance computing and all that goes with it, they added a new facet to the business, which paid off big time in the end.
“This helped really build out what CBT is all about,” Kelly explains,” which is doing what the customer needs and being proactive about it.”
With one of the longest-standing groups in high-performance computing, Kelly is confident about her team’s experience and what they bring to the market. Continuing to ask what more they could do brought new accounts to the fold, including Ford in 2011, which needed a B2B portal that was entirely customized.
Built upon Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) platform as a foundation, the two companies partnered to build a portal covering 40 foreign countries with trade block adjustors, currency exchange calculators, and a myriad of other bells and whistles. For Kelly, it also afforded her and the company a new way to manage a business, to ensure that the right service level was consistently delivered. Today, they keep expanding the portal, and the relationship is stronger than ever.
Kelly knew that CBT needed to get into the cloud computing market, but she wanted to take a different approach. Early on, she tried to find a unique group ecosystem where all the pieces could fit together without depending on Google, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure. “This was at the time when the big, public clouds were skyrocketing, but as much as we proved that we were half the price of everyone else with better offerings, it fell on deaf ears,” she comments, “because we were a small company, and even though we had big ecosystem partners, it wasn’t really an ecosystem environment back then.
Fast forward to today, and working on the Refinery of the Future, I saw something that made a ton of sense, and decided to double down.” Investing $4 million in the project to bring on experts in OT instead of effectively borrowing talent, Kelly hired control systems engineers, design engineers, and mechanical engineers to be full-time staff members—possibly the only such team employed by a value-added reseller in the world.
Be sure to check out Part II of the article, where Kelly takes a closer look at the remarkable partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CBT, Intel, RealWear, and many other tech companies at Texmark’s “Refinery of the Future,” where the entire plant is connected via IIoT technologies and platforms. Kelly ends with her thoughts on what’s next for her and CBT in 2021 and beyond.
This article was written by Stephen Forrester.
In Episode 2 of the Oil and Gas Elevate Podcast, hosts Sean McCoy and Eric Johnson interviewed Witting Partners Founder and Executive Coach Joe Sinnott in their Talking Points section. In this OGGN Blog article, OGGN contributing writer Stephen Forrester spoke more with Joe about his passion for coaching and unique career path.
Growing up in New Jersey, the oil and gas industry wasn’t exactly the first place that Joe Sinnott thought his career would take him; despite the presence of a few refineries and petrochemical companies in the state, he was largely removed from the world of drilling rigs and hydrocarbon extraction. In an interesting anecdote, Joe shares just how far away—literally, in a sense—the concept of exploring and producing oil and gas was:
“The state of New Jersey is currently the only state in America where it’s against the law to pump your own gas—so, underscoring the fact that I had little idea what I was getting into, I went from a world where I didn’t pump gasoline in my own car to a world where I’m on an offshore rig drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It was quite a shift into an environment I was completely unfamiliar with.”
Going to college at Notre Dame, Joe had a math and science bent typical of technical professionals in the oil and gas industry; always trying to take things apart and put them back together, he was drawn to engineering as a degree path. Chemical engineering, as it were, made the most sense to Joe. “It was the broadest,” he remembers, “and it seemed to overlap with many different industries and with many of the other engineering disciplines; and, of course, it seemed to have the highest earning potential, as well.” He also knew that it would be challenging, but he figured if he could survive chemical engineering, he could survive anything. Despite the degree path, Joe often overperformed with classes on the other side of the spectrum: English, philosophy, history. This informed much of his later development and passion.
Early on in his college career, Joe assumed he might wind up at a pharmaceutical company back home, but several months after Schlumberger was on campus doing interviews during his senior year, he ended up moving to southern Louisiana and working for them as an offshore field engineer.
“With the interviews,” he notes, “it was less about your academic abilities and achievements and much more about whether or not you could stay up for 36 straight hours; and they really want to make sure you understood that you’d be working for a company where you might not have a set schedule, and where you might have to high tail it to some remote location at the drop of a hat.”
This sounded perfect to “college Joe,” who had zero geographical restrictions and no significant other to consider. He also remembers—speaking again to his lack of familiarity with the industry—landing in Houston for his second interview, getting in the car from the airport, and ignorantly asking the driver in which part of the state Houston was located. As Schlumberger vetted the group of roughly 20 candidates Joe interviewed with on that multi-day trip, he realized that what the company wanted were primarily “hard-working thinkers” that they could send around the world to do these challenging jobs—a far cry from many service companies today as they place a higher value on PhDs to fill the increasingly technical roles that today’s industry demands.
As a newly minted Schlumberger hand, Joe provided MWD and LWD services offshore, splitting time between mostly deepwater rigs and his home in Lafayette. He recalls that working offshore at this time in his life was perfect, commenting,
“You could focus not just on the operations but on building relationships, while seeing and appreciating how critical those relationships were to get the job done. Forming those relationships and communicating effectively with everyone that was out there—from the roustabouts and the roughnecks all the way up to the company man and the toolpusher—really carried forward throughout the rest of my career and even into my personal life.”
As for that personal life, Joe knew that being in the middle of the ocean wasn’t the best place to meet a future life partner, so he joined eHarmony in hopes of finding the future Mrs. Sinnott. With a potential match in Pittsburgh, the only tool Joe really had at his disposal to learn about this match was long-form, written communication, which affirmed for him the value of writing and its ability to more meaningfully connect people. “You could have 20 dates at a restaurant, chatting back and forth, and not cover some of the things that the process of writing reveals. To this day, I really value the power of writing because of that experience; and, more broadly, I recognize how the power of communicating in as transparent and as clear a way possible translates into end results, whether that’s in a personal or a professional environment.” For Joe, the results in this case are 10 years of marriage and four children; all of which occurred after he packed his bags and moved up to Pittsburgh in 2008 to start a career with what was then Equitable Resources, now EQT.
The time with EQT was a period of immense personal and professional growth for Joe. Starting off as a rotational engineer, he benefitted from having worked for 3 years on the OFS side, which provided diversity of experience and perspective that helped him thrive and helped EQT continue to evolve through the years. Many of his new colleagues had also spent their first few years in oil and gas working for service companies, experiences that Joe feels contributed to the intensity and productivity permeating the office environment, while also helping to build sustainable relationships with their service providers.
“Starting at EQT was definitely an adjustment,” he remarks, “because I went from working offshore on operations that could cost upwards of a million dollars a day to sitting in an office working on wells whose total cost might only be around a million dollars. But even though the size and cost of individual projects was smaller, the quantity of wells being developed each year was impressive.”
Joe’s first rotational role was in reserves development—coordinating logistics, working on AFEs, doing reservoir engineering analysis, supporting the annual reserves audit—primarily for assets in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Those horizontal Lower Huron wells that EQT was drilling in the late 2000s were the bread and butter of what the company was doing at the time; and the horizontal drilling expertise EQT established while drilling hundreds of those wells gave it a huge advantage as it transitioned its focus to the Marcellus Shale, which was only just taking off when Joe arrived.
And as he looks back on those early days of Marcellus development, Joe counts himself—along with a litany of talented and dedicated former co-workers—as extremely fortunate to have experienced something that’s shaped much of the leadership perspective he carries with him today: continuity.
After moving from his reserves development role into a drilling engineering position, Joe began the fairly typical duties of well planning, field coordination, monitoring well costs, and so forth; but about 6 months into the role, he got an added challenge: helping the company replace an antiquated operations reporting system with new, more effective technology. A combination of research and project management duties, as well as the logistical planning required to roll out the product to the field, meant that Joe would need to interface with multiple internal groups and onsite personnel to make the magic happen.
This need helped Joe build deeper relationships across the organization within departments like IT and Accounting who he wouldn’t have otherwise worked so closely with as part of a more traditional drilling engineering role. Collaborating with such a diverse array of people brought home Joe’s original thoughts on the power of communication and the need for transparent and authentic dialogue to build rapport and trust; without it, he knew that the project would fail. By working together to foster meaningful conversation among the groups, Joe was ultimately successful, as evidenced by the fact that the system is still in place over a decade later.
Be sure to check out Part II of the article, where Joe dives deeper into his time at EQT in drilling engineering, completions, and asset development, his founding of Witting Partners and the Energy Detox podcast, and how his appreciation for building sustainable careers drives him to coach others to be more effective leaders, communicators, and decision makers.
This article was written by Stephen Forrester.