Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Would any of you have ever thought I would one day be asked if I was Russian?

Monday, March 27, 2006

week 13: largest shareholder

Another Monday, another P&A that would never end.

Who do I work for? Well, the obvious answer aside, what individual owns a sizeable chunk of the company? It turns out, the single largest shareholder is a man named Didiar Primet. (Name deliberately misspelled. Reason fairly obvious.) Based on the shareholder report I received, which you can download here you see that he actually holds about 10 million more shares than listed on the Yahoo! site. That information can be found on page 6 of the .pdf proxy statement (which is page 4 of the report). He's also a board member of the company.

As a total aside, if you're willing to download the 2005 Annual Report (from the same page that the proxy statement can be obtained from) you can see a full size image of some pretty cool looking seismic equipment. That front cover image that you see thumbnailed on the web page continues on the rear of the report which is the last page of the .pdf.

Anyway, our largest shareholder holds a place on the Forbes billionaires list. He came in at 317th with a net worth of about $2.4 billion. The little blurb about him isn't very informative to me, though it does confirm what I suspected about the source of his shares. While it doesn't state it there, he is the grandson of one of the original founding brothers. What I did find informative were the renovation plans for the Luttrellstown Castle. Perhaps there will be a little company soiree when the spa and bar are done. Perhaps I won't be invited either.

Additionally, DP (that's my nickname for him, we're tight like that) also appears to be worth kidnapping. So, I guess if I get desperate I can always hire some thugs to kidnap the man who holds about 2.5% of all outstanding shares.

But wait, there's even more that the internet has to offer. I'm not sure what to call this, but this bizarre anti-right-wing conspiracy rant makes several interesting claims about DP as well as Schlumberger in general. Apparently, between Schlumberger and Enron, "the older and filthier of the two is Schlumberger, the intelligence apparatus masquerading as an oil services company". And according to this well vetted piece of journalism, members of the Schlumberger family were involved in putting Castro in power, attempting to remove him, and running the corporate front that was behind the JFK assassination. As for DP, the piece claims that he has "rather secretive operations in the Carolinas and Virginia, overlapping the intelligence and eugenics operations" of blah blah blah. Eugenics? This is awesomely absurd. Frankly, I didn't have to fortitude to read the entire piece but what I read was most entertaining. (Note 2 at the bottom is also a good laugher.)

Isn't it great what a Google search can turn up? Blast my common sounding name. It's all I have to define myself with. (It is a bit of a downer to see the first result for my name has to do with someone's memorial service. Or at least that's the result I got.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I want to post about the image of the oil and gas industry. It's been on my mind and yesterday was obviously a missed post. That's kind of what happens when you're out on a job that never wants to end. It really puts a damper on writing when I get home. To go along with that, long days in general don't endear themselves to posts. So even if I'm in the office I still get home pretty late so any post is bound to be late in the day.

Anyway, about the industry's image, it's interesting to see the industry attempt to set the tone after years of ignoring most of the public discussion and letting others set the tone instead. Ah, I'll give this more thought, try to come up with more concrete examples and get to this one day.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

in da house

I'm really liking the VW commercials for the GTI Mk V. It's a brand I view reasonably favorably doing commercials that make fun of rice rockets. Besides, it's hard to beat a guy with a German accent saying, "Unpimp your auto" right before they smash a rice rocket. "V-dub in da house."

I'm also soliciting topic ideas for what to write about on Mondays. I haven't run out of ideas, but a fresh input helps.

Monday, March 13, 2006

week 11: mentoring

The big thing on my mind today is mentoring. At work, they want everyone to have a mentor of some kind. The corollary of that means that there's a good chance you also have a mentee.

I have one. He's been around for a couple months and just left for the training center this past weekend. The experience, which is ongoing, has made me realize (again) how high my expectations for others usually are. I have to be very deliberate in my efforts to relate to new people. And before you get going thinking that you know what the difficulty is, you might want to think again. It's not that I cannot place myself into the shoes of a new person again and recall what it was like to be new. I was pretty new not that long ago and I remember how odd the entire business struck me at first. I remember what my questions, which now seem so self-evident, were. And I did it without any real assigned mentor because mine had quit a couple weeks before my arrival.

The difficulty is not in recalling what it was like to be new and relating on that level. The difficulty is that I expect other people to catch on as quickly as I do. I expect them to pay attention to the details and ask the right questions. And just what are the right questions? They are the ones that I would ask if I was them. If I am going to work closely with someone and be largely responsible for assisting them, then I expect them to keep up. However, most people don't pay attention to details, see the greater picture, and efficiently, almost ruthlessly, comprehend the 'why' of a situation. So many times I have at some level tutored or taught or mentored someone in something. And almost every time, I have found it difficult to slow down and explain what seem like natural steps to me but are often logical leaps to others (hence the parenthetical 'again' earlier). I'm getting better at it and this time around, the relatively long-term nature of this mentor/mentee relationship is helping me understand how unlike me most people are.

At the level I am at, the mentoring in the company is largely to assist new field engineers and basically develop a replacement for oneself. The most important part of the mentor/mentee relationship is to develop a successor. For starters, it creates someone who can take over for you one day when you go on to bigger and better things. The alternative is to be stuck doing what you're doing forever. Plus, that ability to cultivate others is an invaluable for managers and any company should know that. It might seem great to make yourself indispensable, but that's about the worst thing you can do to yourself. Well, unless you like being a big fish in a small pond and perversely enjoy the power that the dependency of others for you creates. Then yeah, go for it. However, if you want to move on, then you need to develop a replacement. Our legacy doesn't lie in hanging around forever like some invaluable institution, a cache of location-specific knowledge. It lies in improving the overall processes of the job, making it more efficient for the company and for the next person who takes it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

dried mangoes!

Watching Cal lose to UCLA yesterday wasn't so hot, but it was expected given Cal's various weaknesses and the tight defense that UCLA had been playing lately. However, watching Cal beat Oregon in double overtime on Friday as Leon Powe scored at will was pretty sweet. It was like that double overtime victory against Oregon four years ago, except this year our power forward scored from the paint instead of launching 3-pointers.

In fantastic personal news, Sam's Club is now selling this item which means I no longer need to stock up from Costco when I go back to the Bay Area. Ha, I bet you all weren't thinking fantastic personal news would be about dried mangoes but it is!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

off target

Now that I have a pseudo-TV, I was able to watch Cal beat USC in their first round game of the Pac-10 tournament. It was on FSN Arizona which is the nearest major market to here. During the break, there was a commercial for Dave and Busters which in of itself is fine even if it is an incredibly awkward place to get hit on. The commercial seems a little ill-placed since the nearest D&B's is in Westminster, CO which is near Denver. Even if I had been in Phoenix, the nearest location is all the way in Southern California. Yes, there are locations near where both teams are from, but this broadcast came out of Arizona and they could have had region-specific commercials.

In other news, I am vastly entertained by commenters who clearly do not know me and/or do not know how to read. Also, the ones that are off-topic just baffle me. If you want your own forum for your own ideas, you can write your own blog. It's really easy. Even I can do it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


In response to a comment from yesterday, retention is indeed the word. However, your comment does not apply to Schlumberger as much as it does many other companies. Consider that these 15 people make up the executive management of Schlumberger. The general population doesn't have access to this information, but only one of them has less than 16 years with the company and at least 10 of them started as field engineers. (I say at least because I couldn't get certain information on a couple of them.) Suffice to say, Schlumberger promotes from within more so than many other companies.

This is not to say that I have any delusions about how many people end up becoming top line managers. Schlumberger has an age distribution that skews towards the relatively young. Considering age and seniority and the number of positions it takes to manage the company, there is a reasonable attrition rate out from the field engineer ranks. Much of that occurs while people are still field engineers because they realize that the work and lifestyle are not a good fit for them. Plus, a fair number go into non-managerial career paths since industry-leading technology takes continuous research. However, there is another path that some take and that is to go work for operators. There was a good Business Week about Schlumberger and its personnel development and retention practices. Unfortunately, it's not free online, but it made for a good read, even if I already knew almost everything in it.

By the way, another credit card offer in the mail today makes it four to date.

Monday, March 06, 2006

week 10: favored children

I don't have much. I was tired all weekend and didn't brainstorm any good ideas to write about. I've got ideas, but they're all just thin sketches. But, since I just had a meeting in Las Vegas for work, let's start there.

The field engineers are the favored children of Schlumberger. I like that phrase. It makes it sound like we're the anointed heirs of the company, as if it was some secret order with lots of rituals and flogging involved. Well, there are some benchmarks to achieve that are like rituals, but there is no flogging, at least not yet. The Las Vegas trip reinforced what I always knew though. Field engineers are future leaders of the company for all the obvious reasons. We're the ones with intelligence and motivation to advance. Skills needed at all levels of the company beyond day to day field operations.

In Las Vegas, a lot of very relevant managers were very interested in letting us know what kind of career paths were available and, more importantly, in listening to what we had to say. The good, bad, and ugly of our experiences. (See, that's part of that communication thing that I'm so big on. Listening is the first step.) We've obviously very valuable investments for the company deemed very worthy of taking care of.

The field time is like a rite of passage though. It serves two basic purposes. The first is to learn about what is realistically possible in the field by actually being in the field. There's no point in developing tools that cannot be implemented or managing with no idea of how the ground operations work. And time spent in the field is the best way to figure the way things really work. The second purpose is perhaps less apparent, but just as important. The field is almost like a rite of passage for the field engineers, to prove that they could handle the hardships of field life. It's like some sort of worthiness thing.

A result of that is that the company is internally very cliquish. My sense is that there are very few managers within the company who did not work their way up from the field level. The advantage of that is you end up with a lot of loyal managers, true company men. The disadvantage is that you end up with a lot of loyal managers, true company men. There's the risk of a lack of fresh ideas, though the company engages in several other practices to encourage new ideas.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

new york new york

Since I'm currently re-reading The Fountainhead I can't help but wonder what Howard Roark would think of the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas. Actually, it's fairly apparent that he wouldn't care for it. The hotel has a mishmash of styles going on, but it seems to be going for the 1920's more than any other era. Plus, the interior plan appears to have been subjugated for the sake of the exterior look. I had wondered since I first saw the hotel a couple years ago what kind of sacrifices were made to get that skyline look. There are four different banks of elevators leading to different parts of the hotel towers. Plus, to get to my room, which I concede was at the end of the hallway, it took nine turns along the hallway. Nice hotel, but no architectural masterpiece.

In other news, I'm up to three credit offers so far this month. I'm going to track this for the rest of the month to see how many I get.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

las vegas recap

Ok, I'm back from Las Vegas. I had a good time and now it's time for the obligatory entry about the travel and the trip.

I still don't understand the shoe thing at the airport. For a while, you could wear sneakers through the metal detector and then you couldn't anymore. In Farmington's airport, I saw the guy in front of me go through with his shoes on so I figure it's all good now so I tried to go through with my shoes on. Au contraire. I had to take mine off. Apparently, they make exceptions for employees who, by being employees, are incorruptible and could never pose a security risk. Now, why are we putting another deadbolt on the front door when the back door is open?

I'm getting pretty familiar with the higher gate numbers of Concourse A of Denver International Airport. I know I can get a good cinnamon roll from Lefty's Colorado Trails Bar and Grille. I also don't understand the boarding order that Ted/United uses. I was in group 4, which is the last boarding group, both to and from Las Vegas but I was in rows 13 and 16 respectively. You can see the cabin layout of an Airbus A 320 here, the plane I was on both ways. Admittedly, I had an aisle seat both times so has United gone to some sort of sophisticated window, middle, aisle seating order style? If they have, it's not working at all. Also, our flight left over an hour late for Las Vegas because we had to change planes. I suppose that's better than not finding the oil leak in the number 2 engine. By the way, Terminal D of McCarran (Las Vegas) is also quite nice. It's much cleaner and better lit than the other three terminals.

One last travel note, why must those TSA shirt be somewhat see through? White dress shirts, if not made of a heavy enough material will be see through. It's that simple. So please, someone in the federal government, do something about this.

About Las Vegas. They put us up in the New York New York. It's a nice hotel, kind of like all the other major hotel and casino resorts on the strip. Now I've stayed at the Stardust, Tropicana, Monte Carlo, The Mirage, and New York New York. I think I stayed at the Circus Circus as well at some point. Tuesday afternoon was work, then we had dinner and fun in the evening. Wednesday was ostensibly a team building exercise that was a lot of fun. Thursday was meetings all day and then dinner and a show in the evening. Friday morning was more meetings and then we were done. The work aspects of the event were very worthwhile. A lot of very important managers were very interested in what we field engineers had to say and in showing us what was available to us. A lot of what was said related to what I wrote about on January 16 of this year. Communication is key to solving and preventing many of the problems we all experience at work.

At dinner on Thursday, we ate at the Chinese restaurant in the New York New York. The event organizer had some fortune cookies made with fake fortunes as a gag. Mine said, "Your family and friends still don't really understand what you do for a living." How apt.