25 years of ‘doing what is right for the rig’: IADC president leads association into new era

Posted on 10 November 2009

IMG_0001_fmtEditor’s Note: IADC president Dr Lee Hunt is observing 25 years with the association, 19 of which he has served as president. He met recently with Mike Killalea, IADC group vice president and publisher, to talk about some of the events of the last 2 ½ decades and the association’s future.

Killalea: Congratulations on your tenure at IADC. What are some significant changes you have seen over the last quarter-century?

Hunt: The major demographic change in IADC’s membership has been the movement from entrepreneurial-owned companies to public companies. Secondly, the emergence of the association as a global authority. IADC’s membership has expanded to drilling contractors and service companies headquartered in countries around the world. We truly have achieved a global membership base over the past 25 years.

Killalea: Tell us about the guiding principles or underlying philosophy behind the association’s success.

Hunt: I think the most beneficial philosophy we have followed is to always “Do What is Right for the Rig.” The rig is the great equalizer in service to our membership no matter how many rigs or how few in the fleet. No matter the size of the company, how large or how small. And, no matter its working location, whether geographically localized or globally positioned. As long as IADC pursues the best interests of the rigs, we will always be acting in the best interest of our member companies. It would be difficult to do what’s best for companies because they vary so widely in their interests, assets and resources. Rigs are rigs, around the world. They all need attention to HSE, regulatory matters, basic economics and technology. So as long as we keep our focus on the rigs, we are always doing the right thing.

Killalea: What impact has this had on IADC?

IMG_0004_fmtHunt: The major impact on IADC is that this philosophy keeps our feet planted very firmly on the ground. It has transformed us into a trade association that is beneficial directly to working people, the workforce of our members. IADC is not an elitist club for executives. We are what I would call a “beige collar” organization in terms of what we do, what we focus on and what we achieve. IADC exists to provide relevant services to all of our members – from roustabout to CEO.

As an industry representative, IADC has saved our member companies tremendous amounts of money through fending off unnecessary, unwanted or unwarrantable imposition of regulations. While we have saved our companies and their employees untold sums of money, we also have improved their health and safety through working collaboratively with governments to promote the joint development of positive, worthwhile and valuable regulations.

Killalea: During my time with IADC, I’ve had the honor of working with a very professional and competent staff. What changes have you made in building staff during your tenure?

Hunt: As the industry has evolved over the last 25 years, we have achieved an increasing level of professionalization in the IADC staff. Many of our staff have advanced, professional degrees. All have years of industry experience. Most are recognized as leading experts in the areas they staff, and this makes them very valuable partners with our members.

Killalea: What are some trends you see moving forward?

IMG_2099_fmtHunt: The challenge to trade associations is to always be relevant to the daily business of their members. All goods, services, products and activities should be an integral part of every member’s economic day. It has long been my belief that trade associations as traditionally organized are dinosaurs, plodding toward the tar pit. You have to be agile, you have to be responsive, and you have to think ahead of the emerging trends. Members want options and speed.

Further, you must watch the shifting demographics in your membership. You need to be alert to changes in information technology. You have to anticipate, visualize, then move ahead. You need to have answers before the questions are even asked.

For example, we traditionally have been a captive publisher for the industry. We print and publish books, manuals, forms and documents specifically for the industry that really would not be viable products in a commercial market. As we move into the age of digital information, this role will change, and IADC has to be involved in the digital distribution of the same services. One example is the change of the traditional printed daily drilling report pad into a licensed electronic format.

These events require fundamental changes in funding for the organization and the methodology for providing relevant services to the members. It must always be done from the point of view that our sole purpose is to serve our members. As our members’ information technology requirements grow, our information technology services need to be right up there with them.

Killalea: Thanks, Lee. Do you have anything that summarizes your experience with the drilling industry and IADC?

IMG_0003 copy_fmtHunt: Yes, I do, Mike. First, thanks for the opportunity to reflect on IADC’s quest to fulfill our motto, “Global Leadership for the Drilling Industry.”

I have had the privilege to work directly with the leading executives in our business during their terms as officers. Also, the chance to make rig visits in virtually every operating theater of the world: North Slope Alaska, West Texas, North Sea and continental Europe, Brazil and India, the deserts of Saudi Arabia and North Africa and in Asia. I’ve visited rigs working in every major ocean or sea on the globe and talked to the hands about their world of work and how IADC can best serve their needs. How could any other job provide such diverse and exciting experiences?

Perhaps, though, the best way I can summarize 25 years with IADC is to let the members gauge our value. We recently received two e-mails that best sum up the worth of IADC.

An HSE manager and former driller with a major oil company wrote, “Here I am Sunday morning at home, thinking about Monday in the office … putting together an HSE presentation. Once again I find myself flipping through the pages of Drilling Contractor ….  (and IADC accident statistics). This information is accurate and critical for our industry. Your good work makes my job easier.”

A senior manger retiring after 35 years in the offshore drilling industry wrote: “… As I look back on my relationship with IADC, the one thing that sticks out the most in my mind is the vigorous support IADC has given to drilling contractors in all areas of our business – from technical challenges to government regulations, to tax matters, etc, etc.

IMG_2106_fmtWhatever the problems we face, IADC works hand-in-hand in conjunction (and in parallel) with us to solve our industry’s issues and problems. The (chapters and staff) are full of great, dedicated individuals, many of whom are my good friends, which make this an outstandingly strong organization.”

I can’t think of any greater reward than comments like these. It tells me that IADC is “doing what is right for the rig” and truly achieving its mission to provide “Global Leadership for the Drilling Industry.” It is a real privilege to have an integral role in IADC past, present and future.

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