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Amsden grows into leadership roles, receives Technician of the Year honor

Amsden grows into leadership roles, receives Technician of the Year honor

Spending nearly nine years as a TAPS technician at Pump Station 9, Diandra “Di” Amsden immersed herself in the work, the station, the people and the opportunities. The pipefitter-turned-mechanical tech absorbed everything she could about the station’s inner-workings, from the tasks, tools and infrastructure, to the teamwork and friendships that come with shift work. Her eagerness to learn, determination to be great at her craft, and engaging personality drove her to success.

Spending nearly nine years as a TAPS technician at Pump Station 9, Diandra “Di” Amsden immersed herself in the work, the station, the people and the opportunities. The pipefitter-turned-mechanical tech absorbed everything she could about the station’s inner-workings, from the tasks, tools and infrastructure, to the teamwork and friendships that come with shift work. Her eagerness to learn, determination to be great at her craft, and engaging personality drove her to success.

 

Di eventually took on the station’s lead technician position, and soon after settling into that role, her reputation as an emerging leader launched her to new, unfamiliar opportunities. Over the past year, she departed her comfortable PS9 setting and again stepped into the unknown: she accepted a special assignment in Valdez as a fill-in supervisor with the Terminal’s Instrumentation & Electrical team. After that, she moved 275 pipeline miles north of PS9, past the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle, to fill in as the acting maintenance supervisor over Pump Station 5 and 7, where she is working today.

 

“It’s pretty wild – just yesterday I was walking around (Pump Station 7) as a supervisor over a major shutdown,” she said earlier this summer. “The progression and opportunities have definitely made this a fantastic job.”

 

And the pipeline people who know and work with Di view her as a terrific teammate and leader, which are among the many reasons why she was named a 2021 Atigun Awards Technician of the Year. (There are two Technicians of the Year recipients for 2021; Shawn O’Rear of the Shops Team is the other.)

 

“It’s really awesome because there are a lot of talented individuals out there who could be recognized,” she said. “I was sitting there watching the announcements with Brad Gordon, and (President Brigham McCown) announced me! I sent him an email saying, ‘Thank you!’ That was cool, too.”

 

Brendan LaBelle-Hamer, TAPS Maintenance Manager for the Central Region, said that the honor is well-deserved.

 

“It’s an acknowledgment that she’s respected in the tech ranks, and it’s the type of respect you build over years, to be a lead tech at Pump 9, to step up in other places,” said LaBelle-Hamer. “She’s the example that you’d like to have everyone else view as the right way to do things. She sets the standard.”

 

What also sets Di apart is her renowned personality. She’s positive and animated, has a constant smile, an infectious laugh and a sharp wit. She describes herself as an “extreme extrovert,” which anyone who has worked with her can confirm. While she said it comes naturally, she also understands that it helps keep the mood light and positive in the busy and demanding workplaces, while also bringing people together. It’s helped her fit in and ingratiate herself into the new work situations, too, especially at the Terminal, where for five months she was a mechanical technician leading a team of instrumentation and electrical technicians.

 

“She has this generally positive, upbeat attitude, and she cares about the work and her coworkers,” said Mike Drew, Maintenance Manager of Maintenance South, who teamed up with Di during her stint at the Terminal. “She also loves to cook, which wins over hearts.”

 

Drew added, “She has street cred among the craft personnel. She’s even-keeled, fair, listens to people, and holds her ground when she needs to. People appreciate that.”

 

LaBelle-Hamer echoed that assessment, saying, “She was really successful (in Valdez), and I heard nothing but positive things from that. Stepping in there and keeping things moving forward while someone is gone, that’s a real testament to her.”

 

Di said it was an eye-opening and confidence-building system view for her.

 

“Man, Valdez was a super-awesome experience,” she said. “You hear about how Valdez is different than the pipeline, and there are a lot of different dynamics there. … But there are also similarities like safety, good work and that special camaraderie among technicians.”

 

Now at PS5, she admits to feeling more comfortable in a pump station setting again, albeit at an entirely different pump station than PS9. As her stock, visibility and obligations continue rising, she stays grounded in what got her there: a passion for the work, people and places along the pipeline.

 

“Sometimes I do miss having my schedule and that’s all you have to worry about; there’s a lot more responsibilities, all these things to do now,” she said from PS5, before pausing, as if creating one second to shift into a different gear of her personality.

 

“I just did my first job review – that was fun!” she said, punctuated by one of her familiar laughs. “The joys of management.”

Di eventually took on the station’s lead technician position, and soon after settling into that role, her reputation as an emerging leader launched her to new, unfamiliar opportunities. Over the past year, she departed her comfortable PS9 setting and again stepped into the unknown: she accepted a special assignment in Valdez as a fill-in supervisor with the Terminal’s Instrumentation & Electrical team. After that, she moved 275 pipeline miles north of PS9, past the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle, to fill in as the acting maintenance supervisor over Pump Station 5 and 7, where she is working today.

“It’s pretty wild – just yesterday I was walking around (Pump Station 7) as a supervisor over a major shutdown,” she said earlier this summer. “The progression and opportunities have definitely made this a fantastic job.”

And the pipeline people who know and work with Di view her as a terrific teammate and leader, which are among the many reasons why she was named a 2021 Atigun Awards Technician of the Year. (There are two Technicians of the Year recipients for 2021; Shawn O’Rear of the Shops Team is the other.)

“It’s really awesome because there are a lot of talented individuals out there who could be recognized,” she said. “I was sitting there watching the announcements with Brad Gordon, and (President Brigham McCown) announced me! I sent him an email saying, ‘Thank you!’ That was cool, too.”

Brendan LaBelle-Hamer, TAPS Maintenance Manager for the Central Region, said that the honor is well-deserved.

“It’s an acknowledgment that she’s respected in the tech ranks, and it’s the type of respect you build over years, to be a lead tech at Pump 9, to step up in other places,” said LaBelle-Hamer. “She’s the example that you’d like to have everyone else view as the right way to do things. She sets the standard.”

What also sets Di apart is her renowned personality. She’s positive and animated, has a constant smile, an infectious laugh and a sharp wit. She describes herself as an “extreme extrovert,” which anyone who has worked with her can confirm. While she said it comes naturally, she also understands that it helps keep the mood light and positive in the busy and demanding workplaces, while also bringing people together. It’s helped her fit in and ingratiate herself into the new work situations, too, especially at the Terminal, where for five months she was a mechanical technician leading a team of instrumentation and electrical technicians.

“She has this generally positive, upbeat attitude, and she cares about the work and her coworkers,” said Mike Drew, Maintenance Manager of Maintenance South, who teamed up with Di during her stint at the Terminal. “She also loves to cook, which wins over hearts.”

Drew added, “She has street cred among the craft personnel. She’s even-keeled, fair, listens to people, and holds her ground when she needs to. People appreciate that.”

LaBelle-Hamer echoed that assessment, saying, “She was really successful (in Valdez), and I heard nothing but positive things from that. Stepping in there and keeping things moving forward while someone is gone, that’s a real testament to her.”

Di said it was an eye-opening and confidence-building system view for her.

“Man, Valdez was a super-awesome experience,” she said. “You hear about how Valdez is different than the pipeline, and there are a lot of different dynamics there. … But there are also similarities like safety, good work and that special camaraderie among technicians.”

Now at PS5, she admits to feeling more comfortable in a pump station setting again, albeit at an entirely different pump station than PS9. As her stock, visibility and obligations continue rising, she stays grounded in what got her there: a passion for the work, people and places along the pipeline.

“Sometimes I do miss having my schedule and that’s all you have to worry about; there’s a lot more responsibilities, all these things to do now,” she said from PS5, before pausing, as if creating one second to shift into a different gear of her personality.

“I just did my first job review – that was fun!” she said, punctuated by one of her familiar laughs. “The joys of management.”