Zac Mahlum, Well Construction Business Line Manager, SLB, is a member of the Emerging Executives 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?
Zac Mahlum: As operations manager for SLB Well Construction, my primary focus is ensuring our clients have an outstanding customer experience. This entails understanding our customer’s priorities, identifying their challenges and executing reliable operations with technology to generate mutual value.
EW: Why did you join the energy industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision?
ZM: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, the energy industry wasn’t a critical component of the local industry. During a career fair for SLB, I was sold on the lifestyle. The recruiter said it best: “If you are looking for a nine to five job, the booths for Boeing and Bank of America are down the hall. If you want to make an immediate impact on the world’s energy, take a seat.” When that recruiter called me back the following week and offered me a position in Equatorial Guinea, I didn’t have the slightest idea where it was nor did I care much at that point. I was ready for the adventure.
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?
ZM: Very early on in my career one of the senior managers at the location gave me an opportunity to fill in for him while he was on vacation. In all sense of the phrase, it was trial by fire, as it seemed everything that could go wrong went wrong. Nonetheless it was an incredibly valuable experience, and I had the opportunity to cover for several other managers before stepping into my own position later that year. This left an imprint on me about the value of creating these type of opportunities for others in our organizations and industry. It is amazing to see new talent step up and rise to the occasion.
EW: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
ZM: I’m very excited to continue my role as an industry leader in the global energy transition. The next years are a critical point for both our industry and our society as we decarbonize and reduce our carbon footprint. In many ways, our grandparent’s generation was defined by the industrial revolution. Our generation will be defined by the energy transition.
EW: How has your involvement in Energy Workforce supported your career goals?
ZM: The Energy Workforce & Technology Council has been highly beneficial in expanding my professional network in the energy industry outside of my organization and traditional customers. This type of networking has exposed me to new ideas to solve problems, collaborations across the industry and engagements with new prospective business streams.
EW: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?
ZM: The speed at which digital and cloud-based intelligent systems are making a seismic shift to our industry. I recently had an opportunity to see a well be directionally drilled autonomously, only supervised by operators and subject matter experts remotely. This type of technology allows for a step change in efficiency, consistency and reliability, while reducing the need for human intervention and footprint.
EW: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
ZM: I’m passionate about sharing the importance of the energy industry and engaging with new or prospective people looking at various industries to launch their careers. It is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the energy industry as the world faces an “energy trilemma” never seen in the past – energy security, affordability and sustainability. The industry needs the best and brightest minds to solve these challenges.
EW: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
ZM: As an avid athlete and traveler, I’ve journeyed across 70-plus countries, all seven continents and am currently working on climbing the “seven summits” – the tallest mountain on each continent. I’ve climbed Aconcagua, Elbrus, Vinson, Kilimanjaro and most recently summitted Mount Everest in 2018.
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