On July 27, the PESA Emerging Leaders Committee hosted an Executive Address with PESA Chairman Burk Ellison, President – Supply Chain Services, DistributionNOW. PESA members and customers gathered at Topgolf as Ellison shared his insights on leadership and success, which come from more than 30 years of industry experience.
Ellison related his keys to success by sharing his background in the oil & gas industry from his humble beginnings as a store trainee in 1980 to his current role as group president.
Ellison’s first job out of college was with National Supply in Hilton, OK as a store trainee; spending his first week combing weeds with a manual weed whacker, cleaning toilets, and sweeping the floor. From this modest outset, Ellison took on roles of increasing responsibility — navigating numerous market fluctuations and corporate downsizing, mergers, and acquisitions through the years. He attributes his success to learning from supervisors, peers, mentors, mentees and his family.
Ellison delivered 10 pieces of valuable advice for success in business and in life by sharing what he has learned along the way during his 37-year career.
10 Keys to Success
1. Mentoring: If you don’t have a mentor then you need to get one. Mentoring is an extremely rewarding process for everyone involved. We learn from each other because we bring different perspectives and ideas to the table.
2. Continual Learning: Never stop learning because the business and industry continually evolves and you don’t want to be left behind.
3. Customer Focus: Solving a customer’s problem is not about being able to sell features, it’s being able to understand the problem, being good at solving problems, listening, and communicating. Always do what you say you are going to do.
4. Leadership: Lead from where you are; leadership doesn’t require a title.
5. Be Patient: It might not be your time. To young people in the industry for whom this is your first cycle: if you stick with the industry, you will gain confidence. Look at your failures as learning experiences. Things happen for a reason and in hindsight, they are usually for the best.
6. Be Available: People limit their learning and career potential because of not being available.
7. Be Resilient: Through the downturns and all of the cycles, I focused on doing my job and being the best at what I was asked to do. I did whatever I needed to do to be successful; focused on results.
8. Be Persistent: Persistence and tenacity trump intellect any day. It’s not how many times you fail that matters, it’s how many times you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
9. Be Accountable: Responsibility and accountability are not the same thing: being accountable is being responsible for your actions, taking ownership. Ellison quoted a favorite book, Taking Extreme Ownership: “All responsibility for success and failure rest with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her own world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failure. Take ownership of them and develop a plan to win.”
10. Be Authentic: Trying to be someone or something that you are not will not take you very far or make you very happy.
This event, the thirteenth in its series, was sponsored by DistributionNOW, Locke Lord, Vallourec, and Wells Fargo. Following the Executive Address, PESA members made connections with leading industry executives while playing Topgolf. Attendees from more than 40 different companies took a swing at the highest individual and team scores.
Congratulations to Eric Johnson, Locke Lorde; Andrew Little, National Oilwell Varco; Shannon Cunningham, Wells Fargo Energy Group; Dawn James, Halliburton; Omeid Rahimian, Oceaneering International and Michelle Lewis, DistributionNOW on the highest team score and Max Felts, Wells Fargo Energy Group, on the highest individual score.
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