High Performer Spotlight: Matt Eckl, VP Finance – Energy Group, Gardner Denver
What influenced your decision to enter the oil and gas industry?
Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize”. A friend in the patch recommended the book, I read it, and took the first opportunity I could to make a career move.
What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
That OPEC had a superior influence over the market. I’m convinced, now more than ever, that capitalism, free market economics, and technology advancement will diminish OPEC’s influence in my lifetime.
What have you found to be the most surprising about the industry?
The resiliency of companies and employees in this downturn to survive as well as the amount of new capital sitting on the sidelines waiting to be reinvested at the first hint of a rebound.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about the industry or your work?
The most challenging has to be managing through the downturn. As a Finance leader, forecasting our future and explaining our past to shareholders and employees is very challenging. The rewarding part is being active in the industry; reading Simmons, World Oil, Credit Suisse, and TPH every morning, attending PESA events, and getting out to see customers and understanding their needs. All this, in hopes of adding more “color” to our forecast and steering our company in the right direction.
Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next 5 years?
Kevin Neveu, CEO at Precision Drilling, recently said it best at PESA’s 2016 Annual Meeting, “If we’re going to evolve as an industry, we have to work together.” The industry’s supply chain needs to improve. For U.S. energy independence’s sake, for our employees’ sake, and for shareholder value we have to do a better job of customers and vendors sharing industry best practices. This takes customer trust and vendors living up to their commitment.
What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
I believe over the next decade market forces will drive a technology shift toward “Big Data” and the “Internet of Things” as well as a cultural shift toward “Information Sharing” and “Customer Connectivity”. Creativity to remain competitive in a global market will drive this change. Our generation will lead this change and I’m excited to be a part of it.
How has your involvement in PESA supported your career goals?
Imagine arriving to a trillion dollar industry with only a high curiosity level and a willingness to engage but minimal avenues to reach out. That’s where I was 5 years ago. PESA has been a networking catalyst and educational resource that I’ve relied upon to open career and business opportunity doors.
Tell us about some of the people you’ve met while working in the industry and how they’ve impacted your thinking.
I’ll always be grateful to my Gardner Denver mentors, Saeid Rahimian, Larry Kerr, and Duane Morgan. They’ve encouraged my curiosity, shown me the ropes, and given me opportunities to win and fail. I’m thankful for the PESA Emerging Leaders Committee, the friends made, and the opportunity to bounce ideas off them. Lastly, Pete Huddleston, President of Huddleston & Co from Oil & Gas 101, who said, “Remain Humble when the market is up… Invest and take care of others when it is down.” I’m living that today!
What are you most excited about for your career, your company and your industry?
Long term, I’m excited for what this generation (X, Y, and Millennials) is going to do to revolutionize the industry. Pairing an industry, sometimes slow to adopt new technology, with a generation of new leaders that have never known life without the Internet or an iPhone is going to bring creative destruction, sweeping product displacement, and new business models to supply the worlds’ energy demand. Everything will change at staggering rates.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about entering the oil and gas industry?
First, attend PESA ‘s Oil & Gas 101 Seminar. I vividly remember the leaders/presenters and have applied their 30+ years of experience throughout this downturn. Secondly, read Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize” if you want to understand the Industry.
What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
How good the people are. I’ve spent time in Aviation, Medical Equipment, General Industrial, and Financial Services. People in the O&G industry know how many lives they touch and they take that seriously.