Title: A New Kind of Leadership
Author: John Robinson
Publication: The Outcrop, May 2002, p. 3
I enjoyed reading the article in the April Outcrop about Peter Dea, President and CEO of Western Gas Resources, Inc. I don’t know Peter well and he may not agree with all of the following comments. Based on the article, a few conversations with him, and the comments of others, I believe he represents a “New Leadership” for the oil and gas industry that utilizes a technology-driven methodology in combination with an environmentally sound ideology.
For this New Leadership, technology is the centerpiece of corporate growth whether the technology relates to geoscience, engineering, information or accounting. Technology will improve the success rate of raw exploration programs and will drive sophisticated acquisition evaluations to higher levels of accuracy. Think through a mental list of companies you know of that have been exceptionally successful in the last decade and there is a high probability that those organizations are technology-driven and contain a representative of the New Leadership. The New Leadership is not afraid to express a desire to be environmentally responsible and follow regulatory compliance. In my past experience, many senior managers considered most environmental and regulatory matters a threat to profitability that should be challenged at every opportunity. While fighting the morass of state, federal and environmental agencies is one way to proceed, I think a better approach is to communicate with the agencies in such a way that both parties get what they want, a true win-win result. Robin Smith, the VP of Exploration and Regulatory Affairs at McMurry Energy (now Jonah Energy) is the best I’ve ever seen at communicating with regulatory agencies. The reason he has been so successful is due to his thorough understanding of technical, environmental and regulatory issues. He has been able to explain to any government or environmental group the pro’s and con’s of each issue and could go toe-to-toe with them on the probable outcomes. Organizations that work toward a win-win framework will face fewer delays in their drilling programs and will maintain a positive working relationship with these important agencies. Robin’s approach has proven effective and is the model we should all use.
The New Leadership also recognizes that people are the key component to success and are at the forefront to implement technical and environmental progress. Smart, motivated, focused, and enthusiastic people who support the tenets of the New Leadership can be the difference between a mediocre company and an exceptionally successful company.