Sue Britt / Compliance & Documentation Manager
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I had just quit my job working for the Department of Highways to take the vacation of a lifetime, and was convinced to change my plans. On July 22, 1974, I started working in the Public Relations Office in Valdez. My boss (Gige Hillar, another long time resident) had a long-term vision about how Alyeska was going to vitalize the job market in Valdez. I liked his vision and wanted to be a part of it - and I wasn’t planning on leaving Valdez anytime soon, since it was and has always been my home.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. Over the years, I have worked as an administrative assistant, a tour guide, a technician, and a documentation specialist. When I was chosen to be part of a prototype team for document revision, approval and publishing, it was a perfect fit for me. I enjoy the challenge of the job, advancement opportunities and most of all the people I have met and worked with over the years.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? I believe the TAPS culture is one of knowledge, shared beliefs, and practices, or to put it into one word, it’s a culture of “safety.” We share our knowledge, beliefs and practices with each other daily as we learn from one another. This is done by using the right device for the job, whether that’s a document, a tool, or asking for and providing information.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? I look at Alyeska as a second family. After years of working a seven-days-on, seven-days-off schedule, you realize quickly that you spend as much time with your co-workers as you do at home. During your off week, you get to know your coworkers and their family members at community or school functions. So, I think the best part of working here is my “other family.” You watch them grow, meet new additions, disagree at times, but always stick together. It sounds corny but it really is like a family. We've all grown up together − as a company and as employees.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska’s values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? Early on, it became apparent to me and my co-workers that documentation was one of our cornerstones to providing a safe work environment, and that the process needed to be improved. Gary Minish (another long-time employee) and I were part of the team that presented a solution to management and the documentation specialist positions were created. To date these positions provide a valuable skill set for the company.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? This is a tough one, most of my memories center around things and people.
I was one of the marine crew that tied up and loaded the first tanker into Valdez. I remember how huge the tanker was once it was alongside, and I was equally amazed that I was able to get the loading arms up to the deck so they could be connected.
I remember when we used to heat our lunches in rod ovens (no longer used to heat rods) because we didn’t have microwaves, let alone stoves – or when the bears used to break into the break shacks and help themselves to the lunches. There was one bear that used to open the office doors using the doorknob, then open the refrigerator from the hinges side, go figure.
One of the best sunrises I ever witnesses was in the early morning while on Berth 4. The best Valdez northern lights I’ve seen were during a tie-up of the Northern Lion (they had mostly Italian-speaking crews). The tie-up crew on board stopped work to watch the lights, and they were shouting and whistling. We didn’t understand the language but we witnessed their excitement at seeing something for the first time.
Another favorite memory is attending the service banquets in Anchorage and meeting other employees, most of whom I had never met. On one occasion, I was seated next to a new employee, one who I didn’t know nor had I met. It turned out to be our new president. I’m still an advocate of posting photos of employees.
Britt is the longest-serving employee in the company.
Tim Adamczak / Compensation & Benefits Manager
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I was hired in June of 1997 and just celebrated my 15th year. I originally came to Alyeska because it provided job opportunity in an industry with a future in Alaska. I was aware that Alyeska’s compensation and benefits were premium as compared to other industries and opportunities out there. How can you go wrong with getting a job with a great company that pays well and has great people?
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I was originally hired as a field-based Human Resource Generalist (HRG) in Fairbanks. My prior experience and background in developing and managing compensation and benefits programs allowed me the opportunity to move into Alyeska’s Compensation and Benefits Department in Anchorage after three years as an HRG.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? TAPS has a culture of commitment – a commitment to do the right thing as best we can for safety, the environment, our stakeholders, and for TAPS employees. It’s a part of Alyeska and who we are as employees, and it’s impossible to not pass it on.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? Alyeska is always changing. Work never becomes overly routine and boring. The organization is always refocusing. Alyeska is company that strives to be the best at what it does and no good idea dies here. They may rest a bit, but at some time, they will be back. When an idea does come back, it’s always with a new energy and twist.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska’s values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? There are so many of these examples that happen throughout the company on a regular basis. In recent times there are been some notable demonstrations of how we safely work together in unique situations, such as the Tank 190 and Pump Station 1 incidents, the move of the Operations Control Center from Valdez to Anchorage, and the ORACLE Human Resources system implementation. These all required people with diverse backgrounds to come together on an unplanned and planned basis to achieve specific goals. The steps required to achieve these goals in many cases constantly change. Through the teamwork and innovation of creative minds, TAPS excels.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? Family Day at Pump Station 5 in the late 1990s. It was a great summer day. Family members of those who worked there came to Pump Station 5 for activities, food and tours. My wife learned so much about Alyeska in that one day and had an opportunity to meet many of the Alyeska and contractor employees I worked with. It’s a day neither of us has forgotten and it was truly a day that made me proud of Alyeska.
Dorothy Lord-Matthew / Alaska Native Program Coordinator
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? While I began my current role in January of this year, my pipeline journey began in April of 2001. I was looking for a career change and new challenges. I found exactly that here at Alyeska. Since then, I have been offered many opportunities for career growth. I continue working here because of the great people that operate and maintain TAPS.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I initially started working for Alyeska in the Chief Financial Officer Division as an Administrative Assistant in Fairbanks. In fall 2002, I moved to Anchorage during the 2002 employee relocation as an Administrative Report Specialist. In mid-January 2005, I moved back to Fairbanks for a new role in Operations & Maintenance, supporting the Senior Vice President as an Executive Assistant. I returned to Anchorage in 2007 to continue supporting the same executive. In June of 2008, I went back to the CFO division, where I started with Supply Chain Management on the Compliance/Performance and Systems team. I am very pleased to currently have the opportunity to work in the Alaska Native Program as I feel it is a program that brings great value to both Alyeska and the local communities.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? Alyeska’s brand is synonymous with safety in the petroleum industry. TAPS’ workforce encompasses both Alyeska and contractor employees. Alyeska sets high standards when it comes to safety performance, which is demonstrated every day by Alyeska’s workforce. Contractors have made clear strides in emulating Alyeska’s safety culture. Leading by example has created a unified focus when it comes to working safely on TAPS.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? I really like the learning opportunities here at Alyeska. Not only does the company provide great learning programs and tools, but maintains a diverse work environment that offers many opportunities for knowledge sharing as well. I learn something new at work every day from both new employees and those who have been here for a while. I have always had good learning experiences in each of the roles I worked in, and my current role is very rewarding. I am continuously learning, the networking opportunities are immense, and the people I meet and work with are great.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska’s values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? A great example of teamwork and innovation demonstrated on TAPS is the Communicate & Educate Action Team I participated on while I was with the Supply Chain Management Department. The diverse, cross-functional team included SCM employees from different teams, as well as employees from other departments. We created a team charter and all worked together to come up with a communication and training plan for SCM by sharing ideas and taking action. It was a good example of how teamwork allows members to play to their own strengths as well as leverage the strengths of others for a successful outcome.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? My favorite memory while working on TAPS is attending the 2008 Women of Distinction Awards banquet hosted by the Girls Scouts and BP where Lorena Hegdal was honored for being a strong contributor in the city of Fairbanks and state of Alaska. Lorena’s journey to success is inspirational and motivating for many. I was pleased to be invited and to be a part of the celebration.
Bill Kattness / QA Supervisor
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I joined TAPS as a contractor for Raytheon, working in Quality Assurance and starting in February 1994. I was hired by Alyeska in June 1997 to work in the Employee Concerns Program (ECP).
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. My first Alyeska direct job was as an ECP Representative in Valdez, but that only lasted two years. Then I was transferred to corporate headquarters in Anchorage until 2002, when the reorganization landed me back in Quality Assurance.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? There is definitely a culture within Alyeska, but it was not always necessarily a good one. In the mid-1990s. The organization was very ‘silo-ed’ and protective of authority and influence. That has all changed now to a much more cooperative and collaborative culture. I believe our success today must be credited to our changed and improved culture of shared goals and cooperation.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? The people. Period.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? My participation as the project lead to remove non-relevant records from the records storage warehouse. Many people gave of their time to help us sort through and eliminate over 80,000 boxes of worthless records that were taking up space and costing us money. The best part was you never knew what you were going to find when you pulled the lid off of a box that had not been touched in more than 30 years. We found tons of timesheets, shoes, ashtrays, punch cards, coveralls, reams of perforated computer paper, billeting requests, and 30-year-old employee badges. We got filthy dirty. It was hard work, great fun, and for a good cause. What could be better?
Mike Day / SERVS Operations Manager
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I’ve worked on TAPS since January 16, 1990. I’m a 4th generation Valdez resident. My family is here, and this is where I want to be. When commercial fishing took me away from home too much for my liking, working for Alyeska's Ship Escort Response Vessel System (SERVS) was a great opportunity. I continue here because I enjoy the work, I enjoy the people, and I love Prince William Sound.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I’ve been fortunate to have many jobs and experiences with Alyeska. I started at SERVS as a contractor, worked on the Terminal for Price/Ahtna, and started with Alyeska Maintenance in 1996. I have a little IT background, so I got to work on several corporate IT projects with the Pipeline, many external vendors, and on special projects.
I moved around the Terminal a lot, but spent my time with Maintenance and the Marine Team during that time. I did a few years in Supply Chain in the Valdez Warehouse before moving back to Maintenance as the Planning and Scheduling Supervisor. Then I went back to Operations in Oil Movements, then Maintenance again with the Instrumentation & Electrical team. If this sounds like a circle it is—I’m back at SERVS again.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? TAPS is like a family, so of course there is a culture. We are all people who care about Alaska, about the importance of what we do for Alaska, and about each other. That translates into a number of things, safety performance, pride in our equipment, and trust in processes, systems, and each other to make it work. That is what we pass on to others every day.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? I learn something every day.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska's values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? I came from the fishing industry to SERVS in 1990. Alyeska performs training with about 1700 people each year from fishing communities around Southcentral Alaska. It has been fulfilling to see Alyeska’s safety culture take root and probably actually save lives in that industry, and in individuals I have known all my life. There have certainly been other events that have made that improvement, but I like to think that Alyeska and TAPS Contractor’s safety culture and systems, emphasized repeatedly in training, drills, and exercises with such a diverse group of people has been a great example of those values.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? I was sitting on Berth 5 on a clear sunny spring day with a few friends. There wasn’t a breath of wind. Port Valdez was like a mirror. The avalanches would come down the mountain three miles away on the north side of the port and you could watch as the snow hit the water and the ripples came all the way across the port to Berth 5.
We are privileged to live and work in a beautiful place.
Mark Desinger / Measurements and Scheduling Supervisor
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I have worked for Alyeska about 31 years in aggregate since 1974. I wanted to work for big oil because that’s where the money was and Alyeska hired me first. Now I continue to work at Alyeska because my job is like solving puzzles, and I love solving puzzles.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I was hired as a plotter operator at Alyeska’s remote terminal in building 1555 on Fort Wainwright in 1974. I quit to make more money. Six years later I was hired as an operations technician at Pump Station 8. I left that job because the week on days/week off/week of nights schedule was killing me and an opening occurred as a Measurement Specialist. That position was more in sync with my formal training and interests and had a schedule that I liked.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? Working with highly intelligent and knowledgeable people solving problems.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska's values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? As an example of innovation: Certain Pump Station 8 technicians (without the help of engineering) figured out a way to run the topping unit heater using the naptha that was flowing into the resid stream (essentially being wasted). We implemented that and didn’t burn hundreds of gallons of turbine fuel a day.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? The time spent developing a spreadsheet with Gary Minish to perform the calculations associated with prover calibrations. Not only did I learn a lot about Lotus, but we solved the problem of multiple witnesses coming up with six different volumes during a prover calibration. This was a huge step forward for Alyeska.
Tom Turnipseed / Lead Tech, Shops Team, Pipeline Maintenance
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I came to work for Alyeska in January 1978, when I was 19 years old. I’d graduated from UAF the year before and worked for a short time for North Pole Refinery when I learned Alyeska had three Topping Units to be commissioned. I still remember how cocky I was when I strutted into the Fairbanks employment office and told them that Alyeska needed me to start and run those Topping Units. Surprisingly, they took me seriously, granted me an interview and within a few weeks my next 34+ years was set.
I loved the work and the people from the first day I arrived. There was a belief that we were all part of something really great, something bigger than all of us, and I still believe that the terms “the pipeline people” or “my pipeline” were born from those first few years, and are reserved for the people who were here back then. Everyone from the President down knew everyone else by name. We didn’t just go to work together, we went home every other week and continued to get together. We were close. It isn’t so much that way anymore, but the good times kept us coming back until coming back had become a way of life, something as implicit as breathing air.
I suppose some of us continued to come back because we realized that who we were and what we’d done in the beginning was going to be forgotten as more and more of us moved on.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. Every time I wanted to try something new, I just let it be known and it happened.
I started at Pump Station 6, moved up to Pump Station 1, then down to Pump Station 10, spending several years at each location. Then I went into a line-wide technicians project team for a while. I moved on to the Technical Training Team, taught dozens of classes to experienced and new technicians. I was afforded the opportunity to help build the first Oil Spill Academy and the technician development program of the '90s. I went on to play a bit part of developing the manuals that assisted in standardizing many of the pipeline operating procedures. I went back to the field for a few years, returning to Pump Station 6, then Pump Station 5, and was then offered a position in the Maintenance Engineering Department for almost 6 years, where we standardized the pipeline CMMS PM program and pipeline maintenance procedures.
I returned to the field for a short time at Pump Station 1 and was then offered an opportunity to be a part of implementing the maintenance program and materials requirements for Strategic Reconfiguration (Electrification and Automation) facilities. The past few years I’ve been working with the Shops Team.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? It is and has always been about the people, but it’s also always been about that thing we all called TAPS. TAPS is a living, breathing reality enmeshed in our lives.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska’s values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? The very existence of TAPS is the testament to safety, teamwork and innovation. Who else in the entire world has ever moved more oil, more safely, under such inhospitable circumstances? The fact that TAPS is even here when the initial goal was 8 billion barrels--and now exceeds 16 billion barrel--speaks for itself.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? What is the expression? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Two million barrels a day was the best of times, while being the worst. Nobody got enough sleep, enough breaks, enough stress relief for years on end. But we had so much fun. It was like being a pit crew at NASCAR. We all knew what was expected of us and stood by waiting for a window to make it happen.
Lisa Booth / SCM Systems & Performance Manager
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? I have been at Alyeska for 12 ½ years. I applied for an internship back when I was finishing up my MBA in 1999. The internship was supposed to have me work six months in contracts, six months in accounting, and six months in business planning. It didn’t quite work out as planned, I never did make it to accounting, but have worked in both contracts (Supply Chain Management now), and business planning.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I have worked in Contracts, Internet Technology, Human Resources, Business Planning, and now Supply Chain Management.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? The culture is very people-oriented. We take care of each other. Others are always willing to take the extra time to answer questions, point people in the right direction, help each other, help the community, etc. I would also add there is a lot of pride in everything we do here.
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? The people! It’s one big family here.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska's values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? I would recognize the Building Foundations for Excellence Program, which is how I joined Alyeska. This team was innovative when it was created, and through a lot of teamwork and commitment by a lot of people, it has successfully stayed a viable internship program and has been an avenue for the organization to find many new, up-and-coming employees.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? The handful of trips I have made to the field are always amazing. From the beautiful landscapes, the vast wildlife, and seeing firsthand what the great folks in the field do day in and day out to keep the pipeline operating safely every day makes me very proud to be an Alyeska employee.
Dave Yunker / Pump Station Lead Tech
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? August 25 will be 36 years with APSC. I was new to Fairbanks, Alaska, and found out Alyeska had the better town jobs. After 36 years, this is what I do: pipeline operations technician.
Tell us about your Alyeska work history. I started in the Alyeska mailroom in 1976, then onto light vehicle/equipment accounting, then to Gate 21 as a warehouseman. These jobs were under Alyeska “construction.” Finally in 1977, I moved on to Alyeska “operations” as a pipeline tech at Pump Station 8. I spent my earlier years there as a technician, then from 1983-2007 I was a flow measurement tech at North Pole Metering Station. Today, I’m a caretaker at Pump Station 7.
Describe the TAPS culture. How is it shared with new employees? Yes, there is a safety culture. It consists of training, training, training--with the emphasis on doing the job right the first time with safety included on the front end. It’s important to continue with the Safe Performance Self Assessment (SPSA) program, stressing how important it is to continually reevaluate for changing conditions. We need to make sure new employees aren’t afraid to speak up if they see something unsafe.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska’s values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? This past winter, we had several major piping drain-downs and refills for the crude heating enhancements utilizing our legacy mainline pumping unit. This involved very large groups of people working many different tasks. We would walk down procedures with every person and group to make sure they understood their role in the process. Safe Operating Committees performed with all groups represented to mitigate the risks, and ensure a safe worksite.
What is a favorite memory from your time on TAPS? I have lots of good memories, lots of stories--a few I’ll always keep to myself! My favorite, warmest memories probably goes back to the early 1980’s at Pump Station 8. Everything was brand new and exiting. This was the Trans Alaska Pipeline, pumping two million barrels a day. Lots of good people were working together; we were one big family.
Gwynnedolynne James / Project Cost Engineer – Project Controls
When did you start working on TAPS and why have you stayed? This is my first job with Alyeska. After working in the Oil, Gas, and Engineering industry for about seven years, I always heard things about competitors or sister/brother companies, but what stood out to me were the consistently positive things I heard about Alyeska from both current and former employees. I have had immediate family retire from Alyeska and they only have good things to say even to this day. I thought, “What a great place that must be to work!” It is only fitting that I carry on the legacy.
Do you think there is a TAPS culture? If so, what is it? How do we share and pass on our culture to new employees? There is definitely a TAPS culture. I have noticed it and appreciated it from day one. I have personally experienced employee commitment, fully empowered employees, a high-integrity workplace, strong trusting relationships, highly effective leadership, effective systems and processes, performance-based compensation and reward programs, customer-focus, effective 360-degree communications, commitment to learning and skill development, emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees, high degree of adaptability, high accountability standards, and demonstrated support for innovation. These attributes have contributed to a priceless culture!
What do you like best about working for Alyeska? I like the Open Work Environment Policy. I like that the President, Mr. Tom Barrett, is so accessible and is very in tune with the employee. He makes random special lunch engagements to hear the various voices of the company. I think this allows for him to get different perspectives from different departments and different experience levels. The communication that comes from the Executive Office is very informative and open. It allows for the employees to stay in touch with what is going on with various topics ranging from in-the-office subject matter as well as field concerns.
Can you share an example of how you have seen Alyeska's values of safety, teamwork, and innovation demonstrated on TAPS? I have been with Alyeska for about a year and a half and have sat in countless meetings, and never has a meeting started without a safety moment. These safety moments are taken very serious and serve as a reminder to take caution and pay attention to everyday safety concerns.
Since I have been with the company, I have felt a strong sense of “team.” My department in particular (project controls) has definitely adopted a “can do” mindset, no matter the situation. Each member of our team has a role and if they don’t know the answer to a question, they don’t stop until they get you to the right source. The Alyeska Project Controls team has really made it impossible to fail!
Thirty Alyeska employees have been with us since TAPS first began transporting oil 35 years ago. Where do you imagine yourself 35 years from now? In 35 years, I imagine I would be on the “Alyeska Wall of Fame & Success” as one of the valued team members of more memorable and successful projects. I hope to be remembered for assisting with process improvement and implementing positive change; thus, enhancing the safety of delivering projects successfully. I honestly plan on being retired in 35 years but, if am not, I know it would give me great pleasure to still be part of the Alyeska team that is still safely transporting oil!