These are difficult times for all of us. The corona outbreak has disrupted normalcy around the world and it is quite overwhelming that the oil and gas industry remains one of the hardest-hit sectors. It is in such times, we need to tell stories that inspire hope and courage. It is in such times that we all need to remember how the oil and gas industrial landscape has been built – brick by brick – with the efforts of its people. Yes, it is a novel strain of virus which has wreaked havoc but has it broken our spirit, I am confident that the answer is No. I got the opportunity to speak with Mr. David Reid, the Chief Marketing Officer at National Oilwell Varco, at ADIPEC 2019. With the conversation around Oil and Gas 4.0 dominating the arena, we discussed some crucial aspects that make the industry larger than life. It is in these difficult times, that we all need to hold on to the good things. Here’s Mr. Reid’s story and I hope we all cherish the industry’s resilient spirit and learn something in the light of his experiences. Aren’t we all in it together, after all?
In Conversation with David Reid
How has your journey been so far in the oil and gas industry?
Well, I started as an Architectural Engineer and someone met me and offered me a job at a drilling equipment repair shop which was surprising for my training. They were different in how they thought about the company and the employees, so I was really intrigued. This is 27 years ago, that’s how long I have been with this company. They had a lot of technology that was very interesting and the approach to people was also very interesting, so I got very excited about it. I got involved in the design of offshore drilling rigs and continually had a vision for what we could do as a company, for different products, different applications.
I constantly made an effort to move on in my career and I grew with the company. I have always been very interested in growth and development.
How does it feel being at ADIPEC?
It’s really good, I enjoy it. I have been here a number of times before.
You meet a lot of new people and you also see a lot of old friends. You get a good understanding of the industry and the market.
It’s always interesting interacting and engaging with our customers.
We are discussing Oil and Gas 4.0. How do you envision the industry with new technologies, in the times to come?
I think what gets interesting is that data is going to change everything, which it will. What it does is it creates opportunities for new business models. There’s also lots of resistance, with data being more available, the problem is everyone’s planning on controlling more data, instead of the need to make it more open. So that challenge is in the industry. We will have to learn to share that data and let systems talk to each other.
There’s room for brand new models, for people who work in oil and gas. So I think that’s going to happen in the next five years.
We will also see a lot of cultural change. People will have to learn to be more organized, how to collaborate, how to have systems in place. I believe it’s going to be very interesting.
Do you think data should be seen as a crucial business paradigm?
It is true, but I think what is implied there is the problem that I am describing. If you see it as a crucial paradigm, you could only see it as how to make money. I think that’s the wrong model. I am not sure how we are going to make money. I think it is an important question for everybody, but not as important as the lawyers tell the company, because they want to protect all data to make sure that they have the value. There’s different learning in a collaborative model which we all will have to learn. I think it’s going to be natural, it’s going to be destructive to some businesses because I think a lot of user data will also lead to a change of jobs. It is also going to change how we operate. That change model is very hard for people to move to.
A lot depends on who wants to lead this big change so that we can shift to a more collaborative model.
I think it is the most critical thing but also it is important to analyze how we will make money out of it when our systems are being shared. It’s a challenge and also an opportunity. I think the models will change too.
Traditionally the big companies have been quite dominating in this space but I think smaller companies should be enabled to rise up, to bring their agility. I think facilitating innovation in smaller companies is crucial.
Where do you see the challenge in digitalization?
Sometimes people will gather tons of data, so what! The question is – are you doing something valuable with that data? We need to find methods to communicate, between systems and find models that will work.
How we capitalize on data is the real challenge.
It is very difficult. You got to have a vision. I have been actively involved in automation and a lot of people ask me what is the business scale and where is the value. It’s like asking in the early days of the internet, where is the value. Truth is you will know and it is a leap of faith that you have to take in the early days. If you don’t then you will miss the opportunity. Some people don’t have the desire to take this risk.
You have to take risks, you have to ask questions that are hard.
I believe a lot of value cases are blocked by resistors. There is plenty of resistance across the industry. You got to push through automation and big data.
As a company, we had a big value case and a big vision. If you have a big vision, you can execute the strategy. So for us, we have pushed all our businesses towards having a standard form of edge computing, to make big data decisions later easier and integrated.
What kind of change are we looking at with the Great Crew Change?
I think a lot of people worry too much about this.
I believe letting millennials design their own space is a better idea than telling them how it should be. I really think empowerment is a part of that.
We are building a future for millennials and their future is for Gen Z. With the older generation retiring and young people coming in, it is a new problem but there’s no need to worry about it. All generations have faced this. The transition comes naturally. It is important that we let the coming generation move into their roles of influence and contribution and not resist it too much.
The work experience of the older generations combined with the energy of the new – I see immense potential in this.
We need to communicate well what we do, why we do, and the environment we offer. People like a great environment.
If we communicate well, people would come up and work for the kind of companies we are.
What is your take on Work Life Balance in the industry?
I think work life balance is critical in the industry and in the modern world. When we push people into an imbalance in their work life, we are doing the wrong thing.
Many can say “that’s how it was for me” but just because we did it at a certain point of time, in a certain way, doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. I think there are much better models for giving people the balance they deserve.
It is true that sometimes, we do have to work for longer hours, sometimes we do have to travel, but that can be a big positive in developing your work life balance. It is more about understanding what work life balance looks like and how do we create it. I think in the early years everyone is clear that they have to work very hard because they are proving themselves, there’s a time when you can evolve and manage it better.
All through my career, even though there were intense times, I have always been able to get to a good work life balance, and that helped me look for my employees to have a better work life balance.
Having a good life is very important, making sure that you are doing good things as a company and as an individual and also doing good things with your family.
Your best learning and skills come from what happens at home and when you come across as a good leader, it is because you have let your home life cause personal change. As an individual, you are able to build strong relationships and this empowers you to grow professionally.
On The Dais: David Reid
Recently, I had the pleasure to connect with David Sir for a detailed discourse. During the conversation, he discussed his 28 years long journey with National Oilwell Varco and the myriad ups and downs in his personal life, that went on to add to his professional success story. With the discussion around COVID 19, David Sir shares his message for the start-ups and entrepreneurial community and also talks about career challenges and the way forward in these trying times. Watch the interview for the full story. I am confident his journey will touch many lives and hearts.
(This is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with David Reid and Energy Dais reserves all rights of publication.)