Charles Jessup, Digital Product Manager, TechnipFMC, is a member of the Council’s Emerging Executives Committee. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.
COUNCIL: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?
CHARLES JESSUP: I was born in Houston, Texas, but moved away to California for a consulting job after college. While California is a very nice place to visit, getting a job offer from FMC was a chance to come back home and live in the great state of Texas once again.
COUNCIL: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?
CJ: Kim Glover is a former boss who continued to be a great mentor. She gave me helpful advice and was always supportive. Once I asked her what skill I should develop to help me in the long run, and she recommended story-telling. It wasn’t at all what I expected to hear, but I took her seriously and she was right. Learning to tell good stories is an extremely important part of communicating with people, and developing that skill is a key part of what led me to my next job in facilitating digital transformation.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
CJ: How nice everybody is! I was expecting mostly hyper-competitive Type A personalities, but this industry has taught me that business is a team sport and you only get people on your team if they like you. I have noticed that career success comes not to the bullies who always demand their way, but rather goes to those who help other people succeed
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
CJ: I like how we’re incorporating more cutting-edge technology into our industry. In some ways our industry is very conservative, and I believe we’re lagging other industries in terms of technology adoption. There’s tons of value to be created through digital transformation, machine learning, and the increased connectedness that comes with becoming a data-centric company.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
CJ: Many of the people employed in our industry currently use digital tools that are not user-friendly. We have a small army of people doing things like copying and pasting data from one application to another, or spending hours searching for information that they need, or manually doing the same steps when they know it would be much easier if it was automated. I want to help build the digital tools to make life easier for those employees so they can be more productive.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
CJ: I have heard many senior leaders say that networking helped them get to where they are now. The Council has helped me meet new and interesting people, building my network now for career success in the future.
COUNCIL: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
CJ: Joe Gourlay taught me to always be looking for continuous improvement, and Derek Smith inspires me to think bigger.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
CJ: I recommend doing three things:
- Learn all you can. Read, listen, pay attention. Hang out with smart people. Be curious.
- Help other people, even when it’s “not your job.” Sometimes important things need to be done but it’s not anybody’s assigned role to do them. If you step up and do those things, others will eventually recognize it and appreciate it. Doing those jobs is a great way to expand your skillset and add value at the same time.
- Set aside time to plan your week. Most knowledge workers jobs follow the Pareto principle, where the top 20% of your time generates 80% of your value, and the bottom 80% of your time only generated 20% of your value. I find that setting aside time to proactively plan the top value-adding things to do every week makes me much more productive.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
CJ: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” There are many people who “know” things about oil and gas that “just ain’t so,” and I wish they would take the time to educate themselves before publicly speaking about a topic.
COUNCIL: What do you do for fun?
CJ: I love the outdoors! My favorite hobbies are hiking, bicycling, swimming, reading and playing chess. There’s tons of great nature trails around Houston area that are fun to explore.
COUNCIL: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
I’d love to visit a historic site and walk around ancient ruins, learning about the history and culture of ancient times.
COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
CJ: I have 25 years of training in a Korean martial art called Soo Bahk Do.