Professional Project Management and Engineering Consulting Services
Author: Greg L.
Hi, my name is Gregory Lightheart and I am a registered Professional Engineer in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. I am also a recognized Project Management Professional with the Project Management Institute (PMI).
I graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Since entering the industry, I have acquired over seven years of engineering and project management experience working within the oilfield and gas utility pipeline sectors. Companies that I have worked with have ranged from engineering, procurement, and construction management firms to pipeline owners and operators. Recently I have taken on the role as an independent consultant delivering project management services to valuable clients.
Over my years of working I’ve noticed senior leadership in the oil and gas industry slowly deteriorate due to many reasons, but mostly in large part due to the more experienced grey hair folks entering retirement. I’ve always looked up to my mentors and still keep in contact (through all of the socials!) with those that I bonded with the most. I’ve met many of the leaders that I’ve encountered in my career by working at EPCs or pipeline owner/operator companies, and the leaders usually have been engineering background and often acted as a subject matter expert (SME) in their area of technical specialization.
It was the times when on a weekday after a hard day grinding out as a desk-jockey, most of the socialites would gather in the pub downstairs for a few pints and cheap wings. This is when the true lessons were shared. The pub table would transform into something similar to a late-night campfire with everyone sharing scary stories, only the stories weren’t scary – they would be extremely entertaining, ironic at times, and usually resulted in lifelong lessons learned. The plots had a theme “back in the day, the shit we used to do and get away with, yup! Can’t do that anymore!”. It was a way of engraining knowledge into your long-term memory because you don’t just remember design criteria, rules, or code requirements, you would understand the underlying reasons that these design or code requirements are in place.
I’m glad that I finished my internship and EIT training portion of my work between 2012 and 2017 as that was all pre-covid times and amidst a boom and bust cycle in the Alberta energy market. Between 2012 and 2015 I was working on highly intensive projects at an EPC firm that required me to reach out to these SMEs regularly, gather their feedback or review comments on various design documents, drawings, or reports – and report back to the project manager. By doing this I learned a tremendous amount from these SMEs in terms of the technical knowledge, but also by picking up on the way they managed their work, and best of all – all of the gossip and “inside knowledge” they would share.
I feel like this type of knowledge sharing and mentorship is lost in todays post-covid workplace where silent quitting, silent firing, WFH, hybrid work schedule, flexible hours are all real and your procurement specialist two offices down identifies as a non-binary sloth. What happened!?!? I look at junior staff and I’m shocked, they are extremely talented, switched on, hard working, and dedicated to their work – headed for a successful career. But one thing is missing… It’s that inside knowledge, the gossip you hear in the bar after hours, the permanent memories engrained from working in the field or having a hard-ass boss that would yell down the hall “GREG!! GET THE F@&K IN MY OFFICE, NOW!”. The other EITs would laugh, I would cry but we all learned from it. There was a level of intensity, passion, ego. Some of it, good riddance, but it scares me in a sense when I think that these young professionals are the next generation that will be making executive decisions when I’m retired, are we doing the right thing by letting everyone work only when they want?
After managing projects for many years, I’ve noticed that without your team you are nothing. Some of the most troublesome aspects of managing projects through covid-19 have been really just managing people. Who is available and when, who’s walking their dog while others are meeting on MS Teams. face to face collaboration or in-person squad checks to resolve a design or construction problem quickly? fuggettaboutit. Then you get this “you are required to come back to the office 3 days per week on days set up by your department lead”. Ok so I need to schedule one face to face meeting with all project resources just once a week. Land is coming in on this day, Regulatory on that day, Construction is exempt from the rule, Environment never shows up anyway, Procurement just looks out the window during my meetings. So how am I supposed to get everyone together? Impossible. Maybe somedays things will change, but for now just notice that WFH and hybrid may not be in your best interest if you have any career or life aspirations.