1418 Operations Manager; Game Changer

By Ted Dieck | Featured Careers - Active Search - Oil and Gas - Pick | Jul 12, 2011

If you had virtually free rein to run the operations of a fast growing pipeline services company, could you keep up with an increasing avalanche of sales? Can you grow the operations side 400% in the next two years?

I caught up with the president of this company at a recent show. Here’s the first thing he said to me:

“I want an execution guy with enthusiasm and optimism, who knows the industry, and who can deliver anything we sell.”

Knowing the range of products and services – from hands on in-field pipeline monitoring, control, and SCADA services, to software products for measurement and custody transfer – I double checked that last statement. “ANYTHING you sell?”

“ANYTHING. If I sell it, I want a guy who will deliver it.”

OK, that said, I suggested we change the title from Execution Guy to Operations Manager. Could avoid a misunderstanding.


This is a Houston based company – actually, one of a group – providing upstream oil and gas measurement and automation systems. The core team has huge expertise. Very, very impressive. Services range across systems engineering, field automation, custody transfer management, SCADA, and information systems. And – in a particularly strong segment of their business – their software developers write and sell a fast growing line of oil and gas software products.

They have a tight relationship with their customers. Their visibility in the industry is high. They are building on a specific expertise in upstream oil and gas, creating a dominant reputation as the “Go To” experts.

It’s why I went to the show. I wanted to see how the customers reacted. Answer: It was a steady flow of booked presentations, running all the way to the closing bell.

The president publishes regularly, delivering papers to multiple associations.

Now, he quite deliberately finds himself in the middle of a powerful and growing industry with distinct and immediate needs.

Are you a part of the upstream oil and gas industry?


Here’s some of my research about this new position…

Super Project Manager – If you’re already a hands-on Project Manager in upstream oil and gas, but maybe not seeing advancement opportunities, I can tell you this company is a rocket with the engines ignited. The president wants to up his game now, with somebody who won’t be intimidated by swelling demands.

You have to be able to size things up, make a decision, show how the company will make money, and get the work properly and definitively delivered. No hand holding. The president and founder is deliberately stepping back, looking for internal management strength. He often says, “If I have to make that decision, then I don’t need that manager.”

That strategy, right there, makes this is an incredible opportunity.

As a sort of Super Project Manager for the whole company, you must be pre-saturated in all the intricacies of the industry. This team is pushing ahead into new territory. You have to know where the industry is coming from.

Attitude – This is big. As the company grows, it has to inspire ever-increasing confidence from its customers. So, performance standards have to rise even faster than sales.

And we have clearly seen the importance of a positive attitude for building an organization. This outfit was growing nicely back when the last hurricane hit. Amazingly, the team held together, regrouped, and pushed ahead. Now, survivors need to radiate optimism as the big, big winners they are. The money, organization, services, products, customers, and vision are all in place.

Confidence, competence, inspiration, and growth. Keep those words in mind.

This is not a mushy, touchy-feely environment. It’s a high-powered group of pros looking for traction, so the company can accelerate its growth and keep up with opportunities that are already exploding.  (If you’re from the industry, you know what I’m talking about.)

Hard Numbers – In the spirit of “not mushy,” let’s talk Earned Value. In this company, the new Operations Manager has got to be able to play the complete game. Job costing, execution, and all that, are fundamental; always weighing resources against opportunities.

The bottom line really is the Bottom Line. You’ve got to be pre-wired for resource management, profitability, and completed performance. The president will let you run, as long as you can explain instantly and consistently how the company will make money. Near term, intermediate, and long term.

Results – Here’s a tip: The president already knows that a task list doesn’t constitute action. He’s looking for completion. Hmmm. Maybe we should have kept the title Execution Guy, after all.


I’m going to leave this a little loose.  Like the president said, “If I have to make that decision, then I don’t need that manager.”

I’m just going to ask you to get back to me as quickly as you can and help me make sense.

I work a lot. You can reach me. I’ll do my level best to give you straight answers.

(I should mention, this is a position for U.S. citizens who are already fully active in the upstream oil and gas industry.  Unfortunately, the company is just not in a position to work through visa procedures.)

Please help me understand how you can step in quickly, help this team move to the next level, and make me and the president proud.

I’ve got tons more information.

What do you think?

Ted Dieck

careers@dieck.us  (Please include “1418” in the subject line of all e-mails.)