By Linda Hsieh, assistant managing editor
While most 14-year-old boys in the ’60s spent their summers riding bikes or reading comic books, Gary Casswell spent his summer vacations on drilling rigs learning how to make hole. Thanks to his father’s job as a rig mechanic, Mr Casswell got an early start on everything from cleaning casing to mixing mud. “I loved it, couldn’t get enough of it,” recalled Mr Casswell, now vice president of Eastern Hemisphere operations for Pride International.
By age 21, he had gone into Santa Fe Drilling’s assistant driller training program in Saudi Arabia. Within a couple of years, he had been promoted from assistant driller to driller and was “drilling exploration wells in Rub’ al Khali, which had nothing but giant sand dunes back in those days. It was a difficult place to work in, but it was all exploration drilling and a very exciting time,” he said.
Within another couple of years, Mr Casswell had taken a leave of absence from Santa Fe to go to college. He soon graduated from the University of California at Long Beach with a business management degree.
Upon returning to work and for the next couple of decades, he organized US and international contracts and bids for Santa Fe in places as varied as Oklahoma, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Texas and the North Sea. “The best part of moving around like that is meeting all the great people in this industry,” he said. “There’s one thing for sure about our business: It’s all about the people you work with. Whether they’re roustabouts or presidents of companies, they’re what makes someone successful. Only as a group will you solve problems, and I’ve built some incredible relationships throughout the world.”
In 1998, Mr Casswell joined Pride as a vice president/corporate officer to organize and develop the company’s Eastern Hemisphere international land and offshore drilling operations. In the 10 years since, this division has grown its international business from $230 million a year to just under $1 billion in 2007, he said. Pride has recently been tailoring its growth to offshore drilling with deepwater drillships and premium jackups, and Mr Casswell now oversees Eastern Hemisphere operations in 13 countries.
“I am extremely proud of how we were able to take a very young company like Pride, new to the international drilling arena, and develop it into a world-class drilling contractor that has as much respect as many legacy drillers. It took a lot of hard-working people to make that happen.”
Mentoring 101 with Gary Casswell
“I have had so many mentors over the years. In my early years, my dad taught me his tremendous work ethic. Other mentors like Charlie Orr, Gordon Anderson and Jim Allen have all given me remarkably valuable advice that I still follow to this day.”
Never forget where you came from. Always remember that a roustabout on a rig is every bit as important as the president of the company. Treat everyone equally.
Attitude is paramount. You need a great attitude in this business. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. No matter how tough it is, you have to get up everyday, put on a smile and take on the challenge.
Be ready for the changes everyday and enjoy. Everyday in this business is a new day.
Your family has to be No.1. Regardless of how much hole you made or how fast you tripped pipe, that doesn’t mean anything if it was done to the detriment of your family life. Personally, I find it refreshing how young people are consciously balancing their professional life and personal life nowadays.