Forward by Ben Welch, Executive Director, Halliburton Programs
Kouzes and Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge (5th edition), identify how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. Their research revealed that when leaders understand that leadership is a relationship and when they begin to engage in The Five Practices—Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart—they are better able to embark on their lifelong journey of success and significance.
Halliburton is a company that personifies each of these five practices as supported by Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Miller. After discussions ensuing in 2003, we (Center for Executive Development at Mays Business School) launched a strategic partnership with Halliburton in 2004 and have enjoyed a 15-year relationship. It has been said that culture is driven from the top, and it’s evidenced by Jeff’s unequivocal support of each of our programs running through the various levels of the Business Leadership Development series to the President’s Leadership Excellence Program. Since the inception, we have affected more than 10,000 employees of Halliburton through our strategic partnership. It is an extreme honor to be selected for each of these leadership programs, whereas less than 1 percent of employees are afforded the opportunity to attend. Jeff Miller’s support is what has made this program the envy of executive development programs across the country. Halliburton has truly identified itself as an icon for people development in the energy sector, which is only possible through the support of Jeff Miller.
Halliburton set to celebrate century of oilfield advancements
While going to press for @Mays, the Houston Chronicle produced a piece regarding Halliburton’s century celebration. Read it here.
Leaders in Energy: Q&A with Halliburton’s Jeff Miller
Jeff Miller, who received an MBA from Mays Business School in 1988, is Chairman, President, and CEO of Halliburton Company. Halliburton has 60,000 employees around the world.
What was your career path, and what drew you to the energy industry?
The excitement of working all over the world with all kinds of people drew me to our industry. I had a good job in Dallas, but it felt small relative to what I saw going on at Halliburton. There was this feeling of “I want to try that” and I jumped at the opportunity because of the people and spirit I saw at Halliburton.
There’s always something new to learn, both personally and organizationally. It’s exciting. My career path started out far different than where I am now and it’s been a fantastic journey. I started at Arthur Andersen and have been at Halliburton 22 years. During my time here, I’ve had 15 bosses in 10 different jobs spanning finance, operations, business development and then I moved into executive leadership as COO and now Chairman, president and CEO.
That’s a lot of moving around. Through all of that you learn what to do and you learn what not to do. It’s really important to keep an open mind.
And you know what? You don’t smile all the way through that, but you do love the people you work with. The great bosses are invigorating and challenging, and even when you go through tough times, you still love the people you work with and care a lot about the Company. Our people, the dedication and commitment – that’s been a consistent throughout my career and why I love what I do.
What traits or qualities do you think are especially essential in the energy sector?
First is execution. This is a business where you really have to get things done. Our work gets done every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 80 countries. People are out there drilling wells, designing and building tools, and planning next jobs 24 hours a day. And that’s all real work that has to be done safely and has to be done well. I can’t overemphasize the safety component of our work.
I think also under the category of execution is being honest about the challenges that we face. It’s not always simple. You have to have the willingness to work on complex projects, dig in and tackle the reality that something is very difficult but it can be done.
Finally, I think part of execution is relying on your team. In a lot of businesses – particularly in ours – the system is so complex that we all have to work together, whether it’s a team within Halliburton or a team that includes your customer or a team that includes your vendor, or all three in the same time. The idea of “I’m going to do it myself” is not successful execution. Working together, as a team, is how we’ve worked for a long time in the oil field, and I think that’s the difference in our business.
Hard work is one of the things that drew me to our industry. What we do is exciting and hard but the effort pays off. And I think there is a real meritocracy in the oil field – you make your own career. I’ve seen all sorts of people be successful in this work, from all corners of the earth. Some with all the odds stacked in their favor educationally and culturally, and some with none stacked in their favor. Ultimately, through hard work, the opportunity for success is there in our business. I’ve seen it happen, and can point to people who just outworked everybody else.
Finally, a trait of this industry is creativity. We see creative solutions come out in all areas of our organization. Some come out of research and development, as one would expect, some come out of the field where people see a problem and start working on it to develop a novel solution. I’ve seen those things happen, and the creativity that is inherent in our work.
What do you Mays Business School and Texas A&M doing to address those needs?
Culture and values – obviously I’m an Aggie, but I really do believe that selfless service as a core value of Texas A&M is a big part of being successful in the energy industry. There are a lot of technical things that you learn that are valuable, but being committed to a greater whole versus the individual manifests itself in the Aggie experience.
There are a lot of things culturally summed up in the school’s values but it’s the actual acts and behaviors that truly make a Mays Business School student stand out. It’s an environment where people are very committed to the success of the university as opposed to individual success, and this truly prepares students best for a business environment.
Also, I think there’s a sense of humility that makes a Mays school graduate a much better employee, a better team member, and over time more successful because this value is at the heart of leadership. I think A&M prepares students better than most schools working to accomplish the same and is one of the reasons we do a lot with A&M.
We appreciate our relationship with the Center for Executive Development. They really focus on driving for results and developing strategic insight. The programs are terrific, customized to us and fit our culture very well. At the heart of that center is Ben Welch. He fits our culture well in terms of connecting with our CED candidates, the ones who are in our Business Leadership Develop (BLD) program – they all universally come out saying “That fits me. That works. I like that.”
BLD and the Presidents Leadership Excellent Program are really competitive, highly sought after programs in our company. Around 80 percent or 90 percent of our vice presidents have been through these programs over the past 15 years – that’s long enough to put a generation of leadership through the same training.
What do you foresee for the future of Halliburton?
We celebrate 100 years of service in 2019 at Halliburton. We’re really excited about this milestone. The principles and values that we were founded on are alive and well today, and that gives me so much confidence in our future.
Our values trump everything – particularly when you look at our Company from a 100-year perspective. You can see the same thing at A&M. The students change over time but at their heart, they’re the same. At Halliburton: integrity, safety, reliability, and respect – those four values really make you who you are.
We have many multi-generation families that work for Halliburton. It’s amazing to see four generations of people working for Halliburton that go back throughout our 100-year history. I think this shows that Halliburton is a great place to work and shows that we have values that people continue to respect all these years later. Take for example, our competitive spirit. The goal to win at Halliburton is alive and well. It’s what makes us resilient, adaptive, and creative. These values keep things fresh and are why we are inspired by our past as we lead into the future.