Advice from a CEO: Rig work is not a job – it’s a career

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about Lyle Whitmarsh’s journey from roughneck to CEO of Trinidad Drilling. During our conversation with him, Whitmarsh stressed that it’s important to understand that work in the oil and gas field can be a career, not just a job. Here are some of the insights and career advice Whitmarsh shared:

What advice would you offer to someone who’s green and just walking onto their first rig job?

Priority No. 1 is to keep yourself and your fellow workers safe.

I think the second thing is really believing and understanding that it’s a career. Back 20-some years ago, when I started, it wasn’t necessarily a career. Today, it is a professional career in my opinion – we work more days. And if it is a career choice, then you should take it as a career choice and apply yourself fully and really start to understand that the opportunity is very great for people entering into this business.

A lot of people see rig work as being inconsistent or unreliable. Is that the case?

The only reason we ever left the oil patch, back 20 years ago, was because the rigs would only work about 100 days and then shut down, and we all left because we were looking for, obviously, income. Today, when you get onto some of these bigger, newer, long-term rigs, they actually can stay and work for over 300 days a year, so it does absolutely turn into a career where you have scheduled, set days off, and I think the biggest thing that that allows the rig hands of today is to have a family life.

When you’re looking for people to move up and be leaders at Trinidad, is field experience something you look for?

It’s one of the leading things that I would look for. Although, I think you have to have a blend between that and determination and grit and also the ability to learn other parts of the business.

I think as much as I look for that operational background, I also look for financial people who are willing to learn the operational side, so I kind of blend it both ways. But, if you don’t have operational background within Trinidad, we will ensure you learn that side of the business. 

Why do you think Trinidad is a great place for, say, new Leasehands or Rig Managers to grow their careers?

The biggest thing at Trinidad, and I’ve said it since day one, is that we are an operationally focused management team here. We don’t only say it; we actually do execute and prove to our employees that we do care. We do offer an environment here where you do get recognized for good, hard work and everybody here does get rewarded for it.

Read more about Lyle Whitmarsh in this past post:

We’ll share more of our conversation with Whitmarsh in next week’s post, so check back to read about why safety really does matter to Trinidad’s CEO.

Check out our careers section (not jobs section) for more information on joining our team.

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