The Way Ahead Interview - Interview with Martin Craighead, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes.
What attracted you to the service sector of our industry?
When I spoke to our 200-plus interns [this summer], I explained to them that when I was in their shoes I followed what my gut was telling me, which was to pursue a service company career versus an E&P [exploration and production] career. I was comfortable in what I sensed to be a more commercially intensive environment [in a service company] versus a long-term engineering environment [in an E&P company]. A lot of logic can be presented to rationalize an E&P career. In fact, I believe 80% of my colleagues began their careers with an E&P company. It is hard to say how things would have turned out otherwise, but I followed my gut and I am glad I made this decision. The key is to trust your instincts and avoid over-intellectualizing the decision.
Thinking back to when you started working in the oil and gas industry, can you think of specific decisions and/or relationships that had a lasting impact in your career?
When I was a student [at Pennsylvania State University] and over the course of the first few years of my career, maintaining relationships to the degree of publishing technical papers with my professors gave me the confidence I needed in an otherwise intimidating workforce environment. People can be overwhelmed when they are surrounded by experts with a great deal of experience and academic reputations. Having that conduit back to trusted professors while I was a junior engineer in the R&D [research and development] function at BJ Services made it a nice transition, a tieback to a world that was familiar to me as I entered a world I was not so familiar with. I was also fortunate enough to form genuine relationships with my bosses early in my career. I found my first boss in this new environment to be of high integrity, and he was also very supportive and committed to my success. He created a learning environment that was very constructive. Had I been just one of many engineers and/or was in a hands-off culture, I don’t think I would have flourished in such a positive way.