Michael Sumruld recalls that after investing 10 of his career–building years in oil field services giant Baker Hughes, he found a deep fog settling on the career path before him. Unlike the case with BH engineers—who could always be confident of being able to place a foot on the next rung of an ever-present career ladder—the climb upward for finance executives was becoming less and less visible.
Or at least such was the case for any of BH’s finance rank-and-file who aspired to advance beyond the ranks of middle management.Read More
Rather than land a more senior finance position at another company, Sumruld set out to leverage some of what his 10-year BH investment had afforded him.
“In a decade’s time, I had developed relationships with different senior leaders, so I spent time with them and interviewed them to try to get a sense of what it would take to become CFO of Baker Hughes,” comments Sumruld, who adds that a research document highlighting his discussions with senior leaders later would later land on the desk of BH’s vice president of human resources.
Part of what the document highlighted was the different experiences and knowledge sets that finance executives can gain when they are rotated into different positions.
Says Sumruld: “We were able to put this in play—not formally, but informally—with a number of executives who were in my situation and had also become siloed as they had gone down a particular career path.”
Along the way, Sumruld remembers, a number of his finance peers became mystified by career jumps that didn’t always align with their rank or tenure within the organization.
“They’d say, ‘Mike, why are you exiting a finance VP role to become a director of IR?,’” recalls Sumuld, who notes that he views the director of IR role as a worthy prerequisite for any future CFO.
Ultimately, Sumruld’s career with BH would end up spanning two decades, with his last 3 years spent as company treasurer—a position that the CFO granted after Sumruld expressed great interest in the role.
“He gave me a shot,” remarks Sumruld, who observes that the CFO was confident that if needed, his team had the bandwidth to support BH’s newbie treasurer.
“It’s uncomfortable to take on new roles,” reports Sumruld. “It’s not easy, but I think that this is what we need to do if we want to become leaders.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Parker Wellbore … what sets this company apart in the oil and energy sector?
Sumruld: Well, let me step back a little bit. Parker Drilling originally was founded almost 90 years ago, so we’ve been in business for a long time. Those in the energy industry would know of Parker as a creative and innovative kind of global oil field service provider. We were the first international drilling contractor in many of the countries that you hear about that produce oil and gas today.
We have some of the world records on some of these extremely complex, extended-reach drilling wells—the #1 world record, as a matter of fact, in terms of length.Read More
As a drilling contractor, we’ve set milestones in many, many cases. You think of rigs and the guys who run these rigs, and we’ve done this for that entire time frame. But we’re really more than this and have been so for a long time. As a matter of fact, we have the #1 market share position in several locations with our premium drill pipe offering, with our pressure control equipment, with our tubular running services. A lot of these terms are probably foreign to you, I know, but we operate in more than 20 countries to provide these goods and services.
The point is that we’re more than a drilling contractor. All of these services that we provide are in the name of constructing a wellbore—putting a hole in the ground, right? This is why we went through a rebranding exercise in 2021. Before I actually went to work at Parker, I was thinking “drilling contractor.” In one of the first interviews that I had, I was unaware of all of the services that we provided at the time—all in the name of putting a hole in the ground.
This is really not an easy task. Some of these wellbores go down over a mile in depth, and then they shoot off in multiple directions for many miles to hit some pay zone, to hit some reservoir. And they do this without the benefit of some radio frequency, which doesn’t work underground. They use what’s called “mud telemetry,” which is a whole other story. The way this industry has evolved has been quite sophisticated, and costs are critically important to managing these wells. Probably more important, though, is how you manage all of the associated risk and how you maximize or optimize performance. What we strive to be is that partner that minimizes your risk and optimizes your performance.
Parker Wellbore | www.parkerwellbore.com | Houston, TX