Zach Wilbur, Vice President of Human Resources, NexTier Oilfield Solutions, is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program and a member of the Energy Workforce HR Committee. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.
ENERGY WORKFORCE: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
ZACH WILBUR: I am the Vice President of Human Resources. After a career focused on operations, sales and compliance, this is my first role in HR. I have an extremely strong team of professionals that support my many initiatives and ideas, and I lean on them to keep me straight on the path within our systems and processes.
At a high level, I would say my core responsibility is our culture. I oversee the implementation of our strategic direction and executing it for our employees in a way that shows them the value of NexTier strategy while also ensuring that the department is effective in supporting the business from day to day. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding roles I have ever held. I’m glad I was offered a role that was very far out of my comfort zone, and I was given the support and time to execute it well.
EW: Why did you join the energy industry?
ZW: I never considered joining the oilfield prior to getting a call from a recruiter in the industry. I graduated with a chemical engineering degree from Arizona State University and there is no oil and gas activity in the state, so it wasn’t even on my radar. However, I saw an opportunity to join an organization that would develop me, provide me opportunities and compensate me appropriately for all of the hard work I would put in.
EW: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like, and how did it guide your path?
ZW: I have a few individuals I can point to, but my first experiences with managers were not great, maybe even bad in some cases. I was then promoted to a role where I got to work directly with Natasha Cherednichenko, who truly showed me what a manager can be and what leadership looks like. That sparked something in me. That influence does not come from the level that you are at or title, but the actual leadership qualities that you carry.
Her ability to lead her team with communication, gratitude, support, advice and mentorship, accountability and most important of all … trust, had my buy-in and due to that we achieved some great things. I’ve tried to take that with me in all my roles, whether managing or not. What truly drives performance is your ability to lead. So, thank you Natasha for teaching me and showing me true leadership.
EW: What has surprised you most about the industry?
ZW: The people, they are highly driven and motivated to deliver results. We are also all very supportive of each other. Even amongst a highly competitive landscape, we share good ideas with each other, especially when it comes to safety. We all want our employees to make it home uninjured after a shift of working in a high-risk environment.
EW: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
ZW: I think as an industry we must continue to be capitally disciplined, that’s a key way we can try to reduce the size of the cycles that we will go through. That’s been the biggest challenge over the past 10 years, it’s been so cyclical with the highs being very high and lows very low. It built us a bit of a reputation amongst the people who have worked in the industry as a feast or famine. We need to rebuild that reputation in a way that shows it can be stable and attract talent that will stay for a long time.
EW: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
ZW: I hope a large one focused on continuing to innovate and grow our breadth of technologies. An emphasis on our people and developing their talent. Whatever role I play, I know that my performance will be the determination of my success.
EW: How has involvement in Energy Workforce supported your career goals?
ZW: It has given me some great connections to run ideas by, talk about issues that we have in common, and discuss leadership and how it continues to evolve. It’s been a great organization for the industry, and I see that continuing into the future.
EW: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
ZW: Leslie Beyer (former Energy Workforce CEO) – taught me that framing projects and initiatives properly can achieve buy in. Always know who you are selling to and align the sales pitch to that audience. Courtney Lynch – a true leadership guru who has taught me a litany of things on how to become a better leader. Her continued support with my growth and my team’s growth has been an important part of my success
EW: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?
ZW: The industry’s growth in the ESG realm has been exciting to see. The drivers of that evolution are many, but we have taken the challenge and found a way to convert diesel burning equipment into gas burning that delivers a safer, more efficient and cleaner profile than the predecessors. A continued evolution here will be key in our ability to deliver affordable energy to the world that also ensures future generations have a world that can be enjoyed as we enjoy it today.
EW: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the energy industry?
ZW: Performance will be the key to your success. Execute every task, project and initiative to your highest level and standards, and you can be very successful in this industry.
EW: What do you do for fun?
ZW: I like to get outdoors to hike, white water raft, canyon, etc. … anything around mountains and water.
EW: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
ZW: A beach with some crystal-clear water and a pina colada. Then a dinner that is worth posting on Instagram.
EW: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
ZW: I have climbed Mount Fuji in Japan, and it was an awesome experience with great views from the top of the 5,000 foot ascent.
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