Ford is a participant in the Council’s Executive Leadership Program. He recently shared his insights on the sector.
COUNCIL: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision?
TANNER FORD: When I went to Texas Tech for engineering, oil was a large part of West Texas culture. That led to a summer internship on a frac crew in West Virginia while in college and never looked back. I think the need for critical fast-paced thinking cemented what I wanted to do and be involved in.
COUNCIL: Which individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide you?
FORD: Brandon Smith and Bryan Wagner, both at SPM Oil & Gas, A Caterpillar Company, helped shaped my early career by entrusting me with a ton of responsibility and training me to independently achieve results. Currently, David Ducote and Simon Lawrie are challenging me to continue thinking differently.
COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
FORD: I thought its leaders weren’t as sophisticated in their thinking as digital trailblazers in big tech. The higher I get in organizations, the more I realize how wrong my initial impression was.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
FORD: How small it truly is, and that the industry works together as a whole. There is competition, sure, but most companies are involved with their peers in trying to create a safer and better space for their employees and the employees of their suppliers and customers.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
FORD: I want to see the industry develop its messaging and educate the public about the benefits of oil and gas, both today and in the future.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
FORD: I think my generation will pioneer the new oilfield. With the “great crew change,” there will be ample opportunities to impact the industry long-term and modernize it with data analytics, AI and decisions that have a positive impact on our environment and society.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
FORD: By equipping me for a changing landscape in 2021 and beyond. The Council is a positive force in honestly and maturely portraying the oil industry and working to change misperceptions of our critics.
COUNCIL: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
FORD: David Paterson, now President at Newpark Resources, and the Vulcan Industrial leadership of Simon Lawrie and David Ducote all have opened my perspective into next-level macro thinking. How decisions and trends impact businesses short, medium and long term. That you must adapt, admit that you make mistakes and never accept “good enough.”
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?
FORD: Carbon capture fascinates me. It has the potential to be a silver bullet where everyone wins. It could allow increased use of fossil fuels for developing countries by providing them reliable and inexpensive energy and boost the world economy, all while being environmentally friendly.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
FORD: Oil and gas is a lot of fun. You can be at the forefront of another pioneering age in oil and gas, and your ideas and creativity won’t get brushed aside because the industry is craving innovation.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
FORD: The industry isn’t a bunch of villain stereotypes. The leaders in this industry are regular everyday people that care deeply about their employees and are trying to better themselves and their families.
COUNCIL: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
FORD: My wife and I luckily get to travel quite a bit. Our best vacations are always a mix of relaxing days paired with experiencing a new culture, sightseeing, being outdoors and good food.