3 career lessons learned with Bill Dunbar after 44 years in drilling

Bill Dunbar, Senior Vice President, Trinidad Drilling Canadian Operations

For many of those in the drilling business, starting in the patch fresh out of school was a no-brainer. Some chose this life for their love of iron, some for the money and freedom, and some to be part of a long-standing family tradition.

Starting on the rig as a Floorhand was all Bill Dunbar wanted to do in 1972 – all thanks to his dad who worked for Imperial Oil in the 1950s and 60s when they operated their own drilling rigs.

Dunbar, who had been a co-owner of Saturn Drilling since its inception in 1982, came to Trinidad Drilling in the acquisition in 2003. Now the Senior Vice President of Canadian Operations, Dunbar oversees the operations of 72 rigs in Canada.

After four decades in the drilling business, it’s safe to say he’s seen a thing or two. One can’t help but wonder what’s kept him around an industry that’s seen its share of choppy waters all these years. Read on as he shares his reasons for sticking with it and a few important lessons learned over the years.

Never a dull moment in oil and gas

It may sound cliché, but we can assure you there’s never a dull moment in this business and the people we work with are just as interesting as the work we do.

“Career oil and gas people are just as unique as the industry itself,” chuckled Dunbar.

Dunbar admits he’s worked with and been mentored by some of the very best in the business. The kinds of leaders, co-workers and clients that have turned into lifelong friends.

The work is also rewarding. Starting Saturn Drilling in tough market conditions and turning it into a successful company that was acquired by Trinidad was unforgettable for Dunbar, explaining that there was “really nothing quite like it.”

Since the Saturn Drilling acquisition, being a part of Trinidad’s growth from a small private contractor to one of the largest drilling contractors in Canada has also been hugely rewarding for him. “I’m very grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to be part of the growth of such a great company,” said Dunbar.

Lesson learned #1: industry ebbs and flows are inevitable

Dunbar has seen many industry boom and bust cycles. Although the industry has evolved in every way, shape, and form since his Floorhand days, one thing has remained constant: with good times come bad – that’s just the way life works.

“Our business is simply on and off. When it’s on, some believe it will not end – but it will. History has proven that.”

Lesson learned #2: keep a positive attitude – tough times don’t last

Keeping a positive attitude through tough times is essential. If you consider each difficult day a learning opportunity, good things will happen. You just have to be patient.

“The difficulties I’ve been through proved to be good experience and provided positives going forward in everyday business decisions,” said Dunbar.

Lesson learned #3: always manage your finances

A break in steady income can cause personal, professional and family stress that can be incredibly difficult. Dunbar’s advice to everyone working in oil and gas? Always manage your finances through the good and the bad.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the boom but know it won’t last forever. You need to plan your finances accordingly no matter the economic situation – good or bad.”

Are you as committed to the drilling business as Bill? Remember, boom and bust cycles are inevitable and this too shall pass. Bookmark our careers page for future opportunities to join our team!

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