42 years of fueling AK

About Us

Janine Boyette / Response & Remediation SME

When TAPS is having a bad day, Janine Boyette must have her best day.
Spills. Contaminated sites. Sensitive groundwater and dangerous drinking water. Complicated sustainability initiatives. Regulatory compliance and ethical consequences. Boyette's work as Response & Remediation SME puts her at the center of some of TAPS messiest messes. It's her job to coordinate and assist others to minimize and mitigate those messes swiftly, responsibly and thoroughly.
"We don't enjoy crises," she said, "but I do enjoy resolving them. I like being part of the solution."
On messy and normal days, pipeline people want Boyette on their team. She's been an Alyeska employee for around two years, but has already made an impressive impression – she was recently named the 2018 Atigun Award recipient for Integrity. She is also a member of the group receiving the Environment Atigun Award, received an Atigun honorable mention nod for another Environment group project, and was nominated for Professional of the Year.
Yes, 2017, her first full year on the job, was busy for Boyette. She supported positive outcomes for the Aqueous Film Forming Foam water testing and Spill Prevention working groups, resolution of environmental uncertainties associated with construction-era property use, promotion of recycling and sustainability initiatives, and partnership with agencies and internal clients to support compliance, best results and trust.
"Janine is relatively new to APSC, but in the time I have worked with her, I have been consistently impressed with her professionalism, dedication and knowledge," wrote Kim Kortenhof, Fairbanks Contingency Response Planning Lead and fellow Atigun Award winner. "Working with Janine has enabled us to streamline data management and to coordinate efforts across differing regulations to present a company compliance posture that is managed, reportable, consistent, and drawn from a common set of information."
Jan Shifflett, Sr. Environmental Manager and Boyette's boss, added, "Janine led and supported numerous important work tasks and initiatives with complex technical and ethical implications. In each situation, she helped create a path forward that strictly adhered to Alyeska’s code of conduct and best represented our mission, vision, and cultural attributes."
For Boyette, the Atigun honor is rewarding and a tad embarrassing. On the topic, she said, "Integrity to me means being intentional and authentic. If we act with intention, and keep authenticity and transparency in how we’re doing it, it’s not hard to have integrity."
Then, she added, "It's important to recognize great work and integrity. But does someone who worked here for two years even get the time to prove that they deserve such an honor? I still have a lot to learn!"
Boyette is no stranger to TAPS, Alyeska or the responsibilities of working in Alaska's spectacular and precious environment, though. She was a longtime environmental consultant whose gigs included working on fishing vessels in the Bering Sea, kayaking through Southeast Alaska, spill response and remediation on the North Slope, and participating at large drills with Alyeska and others in Valdez. It was there that Boyette envisioned her career path leading to Alyeska.
"You get a big dose of teamwork under very stressful situations and you get to see everybody at their best," she said. "Alyeska's people were the best at what they did, so I started looking for opportunities to work with them."
In 2016, she joined Alyeska as an environmental coordinator. The majority of her first year was spent traveling TAPS, usually in a truck with Jim Lawlor, an Environment teammate, 2016 Atigun Award Professional of the Year, and something of a legend for his many years of respected work and reputation on TAPS. Boyette's TAPS transition was eased as they talked during road trips, walks around facilities, sites and the TAPS right of way, and visits with workers in the field. Organically, the baton was passed.
"Working with Jim, I was concerned that it would take time for people to come to me instead of him," Boyette said. "It was the opposite. Jim endorsed me and that's all it took. It was up to me not to disappoint him and to maintain that trust with everyone."
The integrity honor is evidence that she's upheld that confidence with her teammates in the field and beyond. Now as Alyeska's Response & Remediation SME, she's among the first people on the phone or on the scene when messes bubble up – recent examples include the Berth 5 spill, the drinking water concerns at PS05 and PS07, and the monitoring of numerous contaminated sites.
Boyette explained that her key to earning trust and successful mitigations is empowering others to do what they are great at.
"I take my lead from everyone else – I'm a vessel to get things done," she said. "You need to have a willingness to take on a larger position of work so everyone can focus on their work and their important decisions."
Tough questions, difficult decisions, and big challenges are the norm in Boyette's working world. She'd have it no other way. She said she "loves nothing more than when our team gets a question that we don’t have the answer to. We have to research, ask questions, make changes. Maybe the way we’ve done it is not the right way anymore."
Boyette's in a place where those decisions and her work can make a major and instant impact on outcomes: Alyeska. (It's also a place where her husband, Eric Boyette, recently started working as a pipeline labs supervisor.)
"Working at Alyeska is so much better than I thought it would be – the experience has far exceeded my expectations," she said. "We really do walk the walk here. The stewardship for safety, the environment, quality is exceptional here. No one does it better."
She added, "I'm happy to be at Alyeska, where the stakes and the bar for performance work are high. We are required to do it better than everyone else and that’s how we do it here."

Reva Paulsen / Assistant Chief of Staff

It's a true reflection of Reva Paulsen's character when she tells you about how she turned the worst day of her 41-plus years of working at Alyeska into a positive.
It was 1997, her 20th year at Alyeska, and the company was reorganizing. A new CFO was hired and bringing an administrative assistant. Reva, and her impeccable track record and institutional knowledge, was no longer needed.
"I remember how devastated I felt; I was out of a job," she recalled. "I went home that day a mess, had a good cry, prayed about it with my husband, and then I accepted it. (Shortly after) I was offered a job in IT. I had no idea what they did! But I said yes and worked for the CIO, who was also new. It was a wonderful experience and whole new work opportunities for me. I loved the people and I learned new things. It was one of the best decisions in my career."
In a workplace of constant change, highs and lows, comings and goings – in operations, personnel, throughput, oil prices – Reva is a model of calm and class, dependability and positivity. It's her trademark since she arrived in 1977, it's how she carries herself today as Assistant Chief of Staff, and it's how she responded when the executive who bypassed her returned to talk two years later.
"The individual ended up apologizing," Reva said. "And then asked me if I'd like to work for them, and I did. I found that person to be absolutely amazing and supportive in every way."
Anyone who's worked with Reva says the same about her, which is why she is being recognized with the 2018 President's Atigun Award for Lifetime Achievement.
"For 41 years she has contributed enormously to Alyeska's success," explained Tom Barrett, Alyeska President. "I believe she, as much as anyone including myself and various presidents who have moved through the front office, has been instrumental in setting an enduring positive culture for this entire company. I am simply very grateful every day for the opportunity to work here with her. I know no one at Alyeska who doesn't feel the same way."
Reva might be the only one. Unflinchingly straightforward yet warm and modest, she said, "I'm extremely humbled. What an honor, especially coming from Tom. What did I do to deserve this? I'm just doing my job, which I love."
When it comes to her 41 years of supporting countless departments, coworkers, managers and executives, "love" might be an understatement. Organization and attention to detail. Mastering the always evolving tools of her trade. Efficiency and reliability. Listening, reading body language, anticipating needs, communicating. Performing under pressure. Being a trusted teammate and confidante. For Reva, it isn't work – it's how she's wired.
"It's my thing," she said. "Always has been."
Growing up in the small town of Osceola, Iowa, she practiced dictation while watching the TV news. In high school, she gleaned all she could from her favorite teacher, Mrs. Swaney, and finished top of her class in shorthand and typing (a blazing 120 words per minute, thank you very much).
In 1976, she was living in Nevada with her husband, an Air Force member working in avionics, when they received orders to relocate to Elmendorf. Reva flew to a new life in the Last Frontier.
"I never planned on staying," she said.
But she did plan on staying busy. When a friend told her that Alyeska was hiring, she jumped at the opportunity. Her professional proficiency and typing speed landed her a Litigation Data Entry Specialist position. Reva's pretty sure she's held 14 positions since, all of them in Anchorage – she isn't positive, though, because she hasn't updated her resume in 41 years.
She acclimated quickly, flexing the skills she honed growing up and creating a tight camaraderie with company leaders and fellow admins, a few who remain friends and coworkers today. Even then, she was known for her maturity and professionalism.
"In Accounting, they called me mom," she said. It was the late '80s and she was younger than most coworkers in the department.
It's those who truly know her as mom, and grandma, who are her foundation. Reva enjoys gardening and baking, and always puts family first. Every Sunday, her two grown children, four grandkids and an assortment of friends old and new gather at her and her husband's place for dinner.
Reva starts each morning on the phone with her grandchildren, usually as her now retired husband gives them rides to school. She tells them to have a great day. They reply that they love her.
"It makes my day," she said.
It's no wonder she always carries – and is admired for – an optimistic, steady demeanor.
"She is knowledgeable, cheerful, considerate and always, despite what may be breaking loose, calm with a positive, caring attitude," said Barrett, who has worked with Reva since he was hired in January 2011 and elevated her to Assistant Chief of Staff in 2015.
"What I enjoy most about Reva is that she is always smiling, happy and truly genuine," added Melanie Wagg, Executive Assistant in the Law Department and one of the few employees who has worked at Alyeska longer than Reva (42 years). "Reva is a true professional and is always calm, no matter the situation."
One situation Reva's never found herself in after 41 years at Alyeska – standing on a cold, remote stretch of the TAPS right of way.
"I haven't traveled the pipeline," she said with a laugh. "I can't tell you why. I'm just a home girl."
After 41 years, she remains most comfortable in the office, surrounded by the buzz of a busy day and working with people. So much has changed – technology ("The invention of the computer has been our downfall in some ways, a blessing in others"), the way people dress at work ("I miss the suit and tie days"), and titles ("I've never been offended being called a secretary. People prefer admin assistant, but what's the difference?") – and so much remains unchanged. She's always surrounded by good people, a new challenge to conquer, and an opportunity to help and shine.
"If you have to work, you should enjoy what you do – and I love what I do," she said. "People sincerely care about each other here. Alyeska's outreach in the community speaks volumes. ... And each person I've worked for has been so unique and different. You learn their personality and leadership style and adjust if you need to. It makes for a great team. And I got along with everyone."
She added, "It will be hard to say goodbye someday. My sweet husband has been retired for nine years already! He always says, 'You'll know when it's time.'"

Dave Heimke / Director of Engineering

Dave Heimke doesn't drop anchor very often.
Whether sailing across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Australia or navigating a career that’s taken him from cold and remote Antarctica, to warm and remote South America, to cold and remote Bush Alaska, Heimke has always looked for the next challenge, the next adventure.
In recent years, the intrepid electrical engineer has slowed down for a job, organization and team he loves: working at Alyeska and on TAPS. After years in the field – the better part of five as a contractor, nearly eight more as a direct hire – he's even anchored down at a desk in the CPW as Alyeska's acting Director of Engineering.
"I broke my record of staying in one company," he said with a smile. "Four-and-a-half years, that was the time for me to do something different – go travel for six months or a year, then see what's out there. But at Alyeska, it's really entertaining working here. … We're doing more engineering now than we did with the original engineering. I've never been bored yet."
Heimke's Alyeska and TAPS teammates appreciate him sticking around. He was recently named the 2018 Atigun Award Engineer of the Year.
"If you want something done, you get Dave on the project and take it to the bank," explained Joel Lindsey, a Construction Manager with Hawk and former Alyeska employee who has worked with Heimke on TAPS for many years. "I hold him in a very high regard – his integrity and his ability to get things done."
Heimke deflected the attention, saying, "It's humbling. Good engineering is work that goes without notice and when that happens, I'm proud of it. … One of my favorite things about working here is that it’s one big team. So this award is everyone's."
A self-proclaimed "field guy by nature," Heimke has spent the majority of his adult life in far-off places – for work and wanderlust. Professionally, he found a fine fit on TAPS upgrading telecoms as a contractor in 1999. Over four years, he familiarized himself with the pump stations and pipeline people, and they enjoyed working with him.
"Dave's a hands-on guy," Lindsey said. "If you walked into a building and he was there, he isn’t an engineer who stands around. He's on the ground or on his back, bolting things together and just enjoying the heck out of it."
By 2010, Heimke was an Alyeska direct hire and has seemingly valued every day, every project and every challenge since.
"There are so many different engineering and operating constraints that make pipeline engineering so fascinating," he said. "This is the smartest place I've ever worked. That’s impressive and fun. And there's always something to learn here and hone your skills."
Those who work with him appreciate his willingness to create solutions with everyone in mind. Lindsey said, "He'll bring you to the table and ask what you need going into a project and accommodate it. Everything is as complete as it can be."
Heimke added, "Engaging with operators and technicians, keeping the focus on the field, that’s always a highlight for me. My favorite part is to go out in the beginning of a project, gather up the techs, and ask what their needs are, what would be easy to operate."
That's illustrated in Heimke's legacy of TAPS projects, especially the ongoing extensive, multifaceted, multiyear, multi-team system upgrades of all 62 remote gate valves on TAPS. Recently, Heimke also played a leadership role in the incredibly complex and wildly successful – and Atigun Award-winning – VMT Comm Building and Equipment Replacement project.
"On the XOCC cutover, the goal was nobody knows we're working on it," Heimke said. "We achieved that, it was done right the first time, and it didn't impact operations at all. We're really proud of that."
Heimke developed a curiosity for how things work early in life, a trait inherited from and encouraged by his father, a horologist (a person who makes clocks or watches). As a 10-year-old in Upper Michigan, he got his first shortwave radio. One year later, he started building a transistor radio.
"It was a no brainer I'd be in a technical field," he said.
Growing up, he'd heard of the big pipeline being built in Alaska and knew of people heading north to work on it. He saw TAPS for the first time on his way to a logging job in Galena in 1985. Following Galena and some work stints overseas, he returned to Alaska four years later and finished his engineering schooling at University of Alaska Fairbanks.
After a career of constant movement and even a reluctance to work in an office, he says he's happily settled into his new leadership position.
"This is the time for giving back, mentoring, and I'm doing it wholeheartedly," he said. "We want to set up our new and young engineers for success."
He added, "My title is acting Director of Engineering, but I'm still just an engineer."
That said, Heimke remains hungry to learn – on the job, from books, in life. He especially enjoyed last summer's 40th anniversary festivities and the opportunity to meet people who built TAPS and shared the same curiosity and pride that he does.
"I got to talk with some original design engineers and they said that working on the pipeline was the highlight of their career," he said. "It's the highlight of my career, too."

Betsy Haines / Vice President, Risk & Technical Support Division

Longtime Alyeska employee E.G. (Betsy) Haines was recently named Alyeska's Vice President, Risk & Technical Support Division, effective immediately. She had served as the division’s acting VP in recent months.
Betsy has worked at Alyeska for 30 years. In this VP role, she will lead the Risk & Technical Division, which is responsible for Projects and Project Controls, Engineering, System Integrity, Health, Safety, Environment and Enterprise Risk.
"We are thrilled and proud to have Betsy take on this responsibility, where her experience, technical knowledge and leadership skills will guide her teams and our organization into the next 40 years of TAPS operations," said Tom Barrett, Alyeska President. "No matter the challenge, Betsy exemplifies steady optimism and strong leadership. Please join me in congratulating Betsy on taking the next step in her stellar career."
Betsy previously served as Alyeska's Senior Director of Engineering where she was responsible for engineering design, standards, technical studies and facility engineering. Other previous positions included project management, pump station management, Executive Assistant to the CEO, and Director of Oil Movements.
Betsy was raised in Anchorage with six siblings. She was a 1980 Olympian in cross-country skiing and remains a passionate skier and runner. She is a graduate of East Anchorage High School with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Vermont.
Congratulations Betsy! #TAPSPride

Melanie Myles / Director of Oil Movements

The personal makeup trailer in Hollywood was a far cry from a project conex on the North Slope, but like any great actress, Melanie Myles rolled with it. Her recent acting work was just another day on the job for Myles, Alyeska's Director of Oil Movements, who was selected with five other industry professionals by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to star in a television commercial as part of a nationwide marketing campaign called "Power Past Impossible."
Melanie said she was treated like a star by the film crew during the three-day experience, from settling in at her Santa Monica Beach hotel to her full day of wardrobe fittings and getting to know her five co-stars. 
"My experience filming the ad couldn't have been better," said Myles. "To my surprise, I was brought to a trailer with my own name on the door! My hair and makeup was taken care of by a group of talented artists."
Each cast member's role in the colorful, fast-moving and innovation-heavy commercial is brief, but Melanie and her co-stars also appeared in a longer, behind-the-scenes video, which captures their commitment to improving the industry.
Hesitant at first to step into the project, Melanie saw value in API's mission and the chance to share her story and unique career experience.
"I wanted to show another face to the industry. As a minority woman in a traditionally male-dominated role, I saw this as an opportunity to get involved and help stretch idea of what's possible for others," she said. "It's important for me that young people have the opportunity to see how leadership has evolved in the industry."
Melanie hopes this project will educate Alaskans and others about the industry that supports so many workers and communities.
"Furthermore, I was proud to represent TAPS and Alaska," she added. "Having been raised here, I understand fully that oil and gas has an impact on my community and family. TAPS is rooted in Alaska and I have a strong sense of pride and ownership in my work at Alyeska. The work done along TAPS is specific and tangible, and I'm glad I am a part of the way we are making improvements for the future."
When the cameras were off, Melanie was excited to find that other industry professionals are just as excited to change the perception of their work and strive to use technology to continually improve operations. 
"I got an opportunity to meet other people in the industry," added Myles. "Other oil and gas professionals who have the same passion that I do – that there is a focus on technology, innovation and responsible energy stewardship. Seeing the similarities between the six of us is reassuring that oil and gas is headed in the right direction."

Don Duke / Maintenance technician, North Pole Metering Station

For Don Duke, 40-plus years of working on TAPS feels like a blur.

"I sit back now and realize how fast the past 40-plus years have gone," said Duke, a maintenance technician at North Pole Metering Station. "At one time, I was the youngest technician at Pump Station 8. Now, I certainly am not the oldest on TAPS, but I'm definitely well-seasoned."

He's held numerous positions in many places and worked alongside hundreds of pipeline people, from those who started oil moving down TAPS to those handling the demands of 2.1 million barrels a day to lifelong mentors, new friends and even his son, Donny. He's been part of countless TAPS milestones and notable moments, from "standing 20 yards away from the pump building at Pump Station 8 when it exploded on July 8, 1977" to representing Alyeska at the Smithsonian Institute's opening of a TAPS exhibit in Washington, D.C., in 1997.

In this, his 41st year at Alyeska, Duke is being recognized with the 2017 Atigun Award for Lifetime Achievement, an honor that the humble man admits is special.

Most days over those many years, Duke says he has learned something new, faced invigorating challenges, worked with someone smart and interesting, and felt pride in being a part of Alyeska, the Alaska-based company that operates TAPS. He's spent the majority of his adult life working for the organization.

Earlier this year, Duke was asked how he preferred to have his name printed on the Atigun Award.

"After a little thought, my response was 'Just another Alyeska employee striving to do the right thing every day,'" he said. "That is truly how I feel. I am afforded this award only because of the many people who have supported my job in many capacities over the years, and to that I respectfully say, 'Thank you.'"

He added, "And I accept this especially on behalf of all the field employees who operate and maintain TAPS 24 hours a day, every day."

While others appreciate Duke's modesty – it's an omnipresent trait – they also say they can't think of anyone more worthy of this recognition.

His supervisor, Carol Adamczak of the Fairbanks Shops Team, nominated Duke for the award and wrote, "Don Duke is the single best example of a TAPS employee that goes the extra mile. Don is the consummate example of integrity … is known for his thoroughness and attention to detail. … (He) sets his standards high and leads by example.”

Another nominator, Oil Measurements Manager Scott Iverslie, added, "Don is an excellent example of an individual with high personal standards who is self-motivated and exhibits the ideal behaviors of Alyeska Pipeline's Cultural Attributes."

Duke's son and coworker, Donny, added, "He has truly epitomized what it means to be an exemplary TAPS employee. He has been a shining example of ownership, integrity, selflessness and humility on the job, and in every other facet of his life."


Duke's sense of ownership in his work, company and pipeline runs deep. He literally grew up with TAPS and Alyeska. His military family moved to Alaska in 1973. He graduated from Eielson High School three years later. After a summer stint working as a track laborer on the Alaska Railroad in '76, he hired on with Alyeska, a few months before pipeline startup.

Duke first served as a mail handler at the pipeline's busy Ft. Wainwright office, then in warehouseman positions in Fairbanks and at PS8. He advanced to an operations technician position at PS8 and then, in June 1993, moved to North Pole Metering (NPM) Station. He's been there ever since.

"From janitor to manager," he joked of his responsibilities at NPM. In reality, his week-on shifts are filled with reviewing metering data, ensuring the facility's planned and unplanned maintenance is on track, quality bank sampling/maintenance, checking meter performance and coordinating with a nearby refinery, along with countless onsite projects.

"You can make your day what you want," he said, "but there is never a lack of something to do."
He added that there's also the occasional surprise. Some of which, he joked, have "caused early gray hair."

"Part of the job is knowing that you can be called on any time day or night to troubleshoot a problem," he said. "Unless you have been in that position a few times it is hard to explain. Generally most problems can be resolved and then there is a sense of pride that comes with doing what we’re paid to do."

Sure, there are many business-as-usual days, but Duke has also been in the middle of many extraordinary moments. TAPS startup in June 1977. Operating a vac truck all night following the Steele Creek sabotage spill in 1978. Being part of what he calls "the best crew ever on the pipeline" at PS8 in the late '80s when more than 2 million barrels a day raced down the line while the station’s topping unit produced more than 3600 BPD of turbine fuel. Commissioning the new NPM facility to accommodate refiners in 1998. Accepting Alyeska's sixth-consecutive World's Most Ethical Company Award honor in New York City earlier this year.

"Over the long haul, we will all have good days and bad, but Alyeska has been a great place to work," he said. "I have grown up and matured around Alyeska but Alyeska has also grown up and matured around me."

Despite his years of different positions and demands, as well as the evolution of TAPS, Alyeska and the company’s culture, Duke is known by many as a model of consistency, patience, responsibility and safety. Adamczak added that he has "a stellar safety record and is a great influence on anyone who works with him."


While Duke's commitment to his work is evident, he said his deepest passions are his faith and family. He married his high school sweetheart, Dee Dee, in 1981. They had two sons, Donny and Dustin, both college grads. And in April, Duke became a grandpa. He beamed while carrying and introducing his infant granddaughter, Everly Monroe Duke, to coworkers and friends during June's TAPS 40th anniversary event in Fox.

"My father's dedication to Alyeska is surpassed only by his dedication to his faith and family," said Donny.

Duke said he's extremely proud of his sons and noted how special it has been to have Donny work on TAPS. After a college career studying biology and chemistry, Donny spent years working at the Flint Hills Refinery in North Pole, just down the line from his dad. When Flint Hills shut down, he landed a lab technician job for Alyeska in Valdez, where he works today.

"There has been no greater honor in my life than to follow in his footsteps and have the privilege to call him my dad," Donny said. "He is an impossible act to follow. If I can merely be half the technician, and father, that my dad has been, I will consider my personal and professional life to be an overwhelming success."

A lifetime of faith, family and friends in Alaska. Forty-plus years of TAPS work, memories, experiences and connections. For Duke, the key to successful longevity is hard work, humility and humor, working in the present with a view to the future, and pride in the people he works with and the company he works for.

"If I'm gonna work, I can't think of too many other places I'd rather work," Duke said. "Well, maybe playing third base for the St. Louis Cardinals." 

Geneva Walters / Development Manager

TAPS nostalgia is everywhere these days. The 40th anniversary of TAPS operations arrived on June 20 and everyone is telling a TAPS tale: pipeline people far and wide, current and former TAPS workers, families and friends who grew up here or have never stepped foot in Alaska, media members and politicians in our state and beyond.

Geneva Walters has one heck of a TAPS story – she's held numerous roles at Alyeska for the better part of 20 years and her family's TAPS connection dates back to the pipeline's construction era. While she can certainly reminisce with the best of them, her position as Development Manager is focused on the future of TAPS and Alyeska.

"It's really impactful to think about 40 years, but how do we pay that forward?" she explained. "I'm working on the future 40. And it's both humbling and exciting to be given that responsibility."

For her years of diverse work, pipeline pride and ambitious vision for guiding the company and pipeline toward a sustainable future, Walters is being recognized with a 2017 Atigun Award for Professional of the Year.

"When you talk about someone who gives 110 percent, that's Geneva," said Susan Parkes, Alyeska General Council, Vice President, and one of Walters' mentors. "For her, the work isn't just a job or a paycheck. It's personal. She's a great example of TAPS pride – she has personal pride in her work and she also wants to make this company a better place."

Walters and her Technical Development Program team have created a comprehensive technician progression program and more than 160 training programs to educate and inspire hundreds of Alyeska staff and TAPS contractors. (That includes the popular "Roadwise" online training.) The programs range from one-hour online courses to classroom curriculums. Walters said her team has nearly 90 new trainings "in the oven," as well.

The group also has revamped how trainings are delivered, tapping the talents and institutional knowledge of Alyeska's workforce to teach new employees. This has been especially critical at pump stations and the Valdez Marine Terminal, where working relationships are close, pressure is high, instruments are complex and there is a balance of longtime employees and new hires.

"It's about taking ownership and having a commitment to make sure everyone knows what they need to know to be successful," she said. "It's happened from Pump Station 1 to Valdez, but a great example is Power Vapor where there's been a complete overhaul of the training. Now techs help design and deliver the training. It's impressive to see their depth of knowledge and willingness to transfer that knowledge."

Walters and her team are now reimagining the way all Alyeska staff are welcomed and trained, from new hires on day one to 40-year veterans, people just starting their careers to company leaders.

"We've set a bold vision to create formal training requirements for every critical system on TAPS,"Walters said. "This applies to everyone and it starts with onboarding. This is a special place and from the start, you're part of the family. We want them walking away on day one with that feeling."

Parkes added, "She's a real change agent. She isn't afraid to put ideas out there that might force people to think beyond the confines of how we’ve always done things."


As a young girl, Walters would ride her bike through East Anchorage to Alyeska's bustling Bragaw offices, where she would visit her father, Donnis Walters. It was the '70s, the TAPS construction era, and her father was using his math skills to help the engineering team calculate placements of the new pipeline’s vertical support members.

"The pipeline was a big part of our life – he was always telling stories," Walters said. "He loves the people he worked with and has lasting friendships. I go in the field and they always ask about my dad."

In 1991, Walters would once again have the opportunity to visit her dad on the job. He had become a TAPS operator who spent more than 15 years working at Pump Stations 1, 6 and 10. She was an Alyeska summer hire on her way to college in Oregon and thrilled with the opportunity.

"The first year, I ended up at Pump Station 10 and did my share of sweeping and mopping," she said. "But they also took me around and made me part of the work there. I'm grateful for that. And I still work with some of them."

Each summer home from college, Walters worked for Alyeska.

"I worked as a secretary for Engineering, in the mailroom and on projects," she said. "I took whatever they would give me!"

The English major's enthusiasm, hard work and wits eventually helped her get hired full-time. She's worked in preventive maintenance, system renewal, strategic reconfiguration and training, and at pump stations, in Fairbanks and in Anchorage, where she's currently based.

She left Alyeska for around six years, traveling the country for a variety of communications and safety jobs, including working on recovery efforts in the City of New Orleans following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"But I always kept tabs on Alyeska," she said. "It's a special, special place. If you've only worked here, you might not recognize that. But none of those other positions matched Alyeska."

Walters returned as a Technical Development Manager. She missed the people and company culture, of course, but really missed the field. She remains especially fond of Pump Station 10, where she got her start.

"I really love showing people our pipeline," she said. That's something she does often – part of the new technician training includes giving TAPS tours.

As Alyeska moves into its next 40 years of TAPS operations, Walters wants to provide that same level of support, understanding and excitement for employees in all corners of the company. The company shares that enthusiasm.

"We are really excited about her team taking their successes from the technician training to our onboarding process and leadership training," said Parkes. "She has made some pretty bold suggestions and we know that she will put her heart and soul into it."

Walters expanded, adding, "My first day in this job, I thought 'How do you know? How do you know if someone is properly trained and qualified?' That was a touchstone for me. … We took lessons learned for training technicians and that led to, How do we develop all of our employees? How do we measure that? How can you demonstrate your knowledge and competency within your department?"

That's a lot of questions and there are always countless unknowns in Alyeska's complicated work. But Walters said that she and her team are confident, excited and prepared to guide the company into a sustainable future.

"To do my job well, I need to know a little about a lot," she said with a smile. "And when I've asked to learn something, no one has ever said no. The TAPS family has invested in me and been so gracious and generous with their time. I'm a product of their investment."

Rachel Baker-Sears / Projects Compliance and Admin Lead

The quest for continuous improvement can be arduous. For Rachel Baker-Sears, the journey holds constant immersion in safety, compliance and risk, and an endless search for savings and efficiencies. She must be a teammate and a leader, a facilitator and a solo act. She has to initiate and inspire, collaborate and compromise. Her efforts and communication need to touch practically all levels and locations of Alyeska and TAPS.

Yeah, it's busy and complicated, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's challenging work but I love it," said Baker-Sears, the Projects team's Compliance and Admin Lead who will reach her 20-year anniversary at Alyeska in June. "It's very motivating to come to work and know that I have these challenges in front of me and that I can influence change. And it's gratifying to see the results of that."

Others say that it is equally rewarding to work with Baker-Sears, who is receiving the 2017 Atigun Award for Integrity. The award recognizes her commitment to the highest ethical standards and achievements in meeting commitments to protect the operating integrity of TAPS and the integrity of Alyeska business practices.

"Rachel is the embodiment of integrity through her words and actions," said Julia Redington, Alyeska's Director of Project & Project Controls. "Rachel is incredibly hard working and a conscientious leader that consistently delivers above expectations. I maintain tremendous respect and appreciation for Rachel and the Atigun Integrity Award could not go to a more deserving person."

Redington and others who know Baker-Sears will tell you that she doesn't drop the ball, miss a deadline or overlook a detail.

"She is an amazing person to have on our team," added Redington. "She always takes time to share her knowledge and develop understanding on different project processes throughout our team as well as across TAPS."

Baker-Sears, based in Fairbanks, doesn't back down from a challenge or an opportunity to improve her work, her team's work, her department's work and Alyeska's work. It's fitting that she leads the AMS-003 Continuous Improvement Team, which ensures that Alyeska project management practices, procedures and tools are effective and efficient.

Redington added, "She has passion around continuous improvement."

Baker-Sears started making a difference, and learning the complexities of TAPS work, shortly after arriving at Alyeska. She helped centralize the reporting and tracking of the organization's commitments.

"The previous lack of consistency and visibility caused serious integrity related issues, such as duplication of effort, missed deadlines and commitment gaps," she explained. "The team I worked with was able to identify and consolidate the commitments company-wide so they could be effectively assigned, prioritized, and tracked using a central system."

When Baker-Sears moved to Projects in 2006, she noticed that different projects used different formats for safe project procedures. She developed uniform guides and templates for working procedures that improved efficiency and safety. Today, she regularly reviews different types of project procedures and work practices so that "they make sense, are organized, easy to follow, clear and concise."

"I really enjoy helping people get their job done more efficiently," she said. "My role places me in a position where I can influence changes to our processes and tools to make them more streamlined and fit-for-purpose, and that they help ensure compliance of our work."

Organization is key. She starts Mondays going through the week’s schedule, noting deadlines, meetings and goals. She then looks beyond at the month's deliverables and goals. That commitment to organization is mirrored by her team of project coordinators, who support Alyeska’s diverse projects work and teams.

Baker-Sears said she also recognizes that to be effective in her wide-ranging work, she must be a trusted partner.

"Communication is critical – I have to work with a variety of people and personalities to help motivate the team collaboration needed to accomplish mutual goals," she said. "Your interactions with people come down to how much they trust what you're saying, your integrity and being able to convey that in a way that they are open to. This helps me understand different viewpoints and I’m able to see the bigger picture."

For that vision, the focus of the Atigun Award spotlight is now on her.

"I take a tremendous amount of pride in my work at Alyeska and it is a huge honor to receive this recognition," she said. "But it caught me off-guard. I just try to do the best job that I can. I had no idea that people were paying attention to that. … Those people are the reason I’m still here. I work with a lot of talented people. The people here inspire me to do the best work I can."

Alan Beckett / Mechanical Integrity Manager

A small, nondescript plaque hangs on a wall amidst the maze of pods, offices, meeting rooms and supply closets on the second floor of Alyeska's Centerpoint West headquarters. The American Welding Society awarded it to Alyeska in 2002 for Outstanding Development in Welded Fabrication.

Years ago, Alan Beckett's office was near the plaque and he often read its words: "In recognition of the advance technology and high quality of welding used in the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which, as a significant supplier of our nation’s oil, remains one of the technological marvels of the modern world, and a testament to the quality of work undertaken by the welders and engineers who constructed it."

Beckett, currently Alyeska’s Mechanical Integrity Manager, has changed offices a few times over the years, but the message on that otherwise unremarkable plaque remains powerful and inspiring to him. It symbolizes how his work and his Mechanical Integrity team's efforts are connected to an extraordinary past while reminding them of their great responsibility to the future.

"For over 25 years, I've had the unique privilege and passion for continuing the legacy established by the welders and engineers who built TAPS by meeting the challenges of engineering repairs to the pipe," Beckett said. "And now, along with a new generation of bright and technical savvy engineers, I have been entrusted with the future opportunities to search out and discover integrity threats and address them before they curtail TAPS operations for the next generation of Alaskans."

For his own history of exceptional work, vision, leadership and commitment at Alyeska and TAPS, Beckett is being recognized with a 2017 Atigun Award for Engineer of the Year.

"I am honored and very humbled by the personal recognition," Beckett said. "But I know full well that my past successes represent the combined efforts of the entire TAPS family, both Alyeska and contractor co-workers, past and present."

Kurt Helms, a Welding Engineer for Houston who is based in Fairbanks, has long worked with Beckett, dating back to their early '90s meeting while installing a sleeve on TAPS in Thompson Pass. They have since bonded over welding, TAPS fixes and even Ham Radios. He's seen Beckett cool under pressure, collaborative in a team environment and skilled in all settings.

"He's one of the finest individuals you could ever wish to work with," Helms said. "This award is a long time coming and well-deserved."


Beckett's engineering work is immersed in the present and future, but he could easily moonlight as a TAPS historian. He has a deep appreciation for the pipeline’s significance, its place in the world, the monumental effort it took to build it and the sweat stains and brain power required to maintain it.

"TAPS started with the thought that it can't be done, too many regulatory obstacles, relentless environmental opposition, too difficult and complex a design," Beckett said. "And yet, with the engineering genius of Dr. Hal Peyton as TAPS initial Design Engineering Manager, a practical balance between the negative mindsets that prevailed at the time and practice of engineering judgement was forged to accomplish what has been considered by many as one of the technological marvels of the modern world."

Beckett then mildly joked, "This is an awesome challenge to be entrusted to a guy who thought he should become a baker."

Yes, as a youth, the Pennsylvania-raised Beckett weighed culinary arts versus vocational school. His parents preferred the latter, which pretty much meant he accepted the latter. Pastries' loss was pipelines' gain as he went from wheat to welding, kneading to engineering, mixers to metals.

In high school, his interest in metals technology was encouraged by a mentor, a retired metallurgist from the steel industry, who guided Beckett to study metallurgical engineering and welding engineering at LeTourneau College in Texas.

"That way I could learn to weld and have some practical skills to get a good job just in case I failed at becoming an engineer," he said. "Over 40 years later, I am still ready to pursue a job in welding pipe if I need to."

The engineering gig has worked out pretty well. He admitted, "I have not welded at work or home for about 10 years. I sold all my welding equipment. Welding is kind of like playing the piano. Once you learn you can always pick it back up with practice … that is, if you still have the eyes for it."


Long before he had eyes for Alaska, Beckett was offered a vision of his engineering future on TAPS. Alyeska chief welding engineer John Wormeli spoke at LeTourneau during Beckett's junior year in 1975 and showed "Weld #38031," a documentary about welding 48-inch pipe on TAPS.

"This film grabbed my attention and started my lifetime interest in pipeline welding," Beckett said.

After college, he spent 15 years as a welding, nondestructive testing and materials engineer at Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, the nation's third-largest integrated natural gas transmission company. Based in Charleston, W.Va., his work took him to New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia – and eventually Alaska.

An engineer he once tried hiring at Columbia reached out to him about an opportunity at Alyeska. In 1991, he joined a team of four welding engineers on TAPS.

He's since held numerous engineering positions at Alyeska, giving him diverse experience in the design, construction and maintenance, compressor and pump station facilities, and process piping systems. And he's faced serious pressure and problem-solving challenges. He led teams that designed and completed field repairs for the mainline bullet hole leak at PLMP 400, the booster pump piping internal corrosion leak at Pump Station 1, and the temporary pig trap at PS08.

Today, his team of nine integrity engineers are accountable for the detection, identification and assessment of integrity threats for repair, mitigation or replacement of all TAPS crude oil, natural gas and process liquid and gas containing assets using in-line inspection ("smart pigs") and direct examination nondestructive testing methods.

He's a mentor internally, but also shares his knowledge of TAPS and his trade with engineers around Alaska and beyond. In 2005, he received the AWS's A.F. Davis Silver Metal Award for co-authoring "Maintenance Welding on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline." He was a co-recipient of the 2004 President's Award for Excellence in Health & Safety on the TAPS Mechanical Damage Features Assessment Project. His most recent published technical paper, "An Experimental Study To Evaluate The Performance Of Competing Filler Materials Used With Type B And Stand-Off Steel Sleeves," was acknowledged at the 2016 International Pipeline Conference.

Beckett's a respected voice at Alyeska, on TAPS, in his trade and industry. But he said ultimately, his focus remains on the success and the sustainability of TAPS. He knows that responsibility rests on many shoulders, including his own. And he loves it.

"A favorite quote of mine that I feel sums up Alyeska engineering and the value of teamwork is by Lyndon Johnson: 'There are no problems we cannot solve together and very few that we can solve by ourselves,'" he said. "To be a successful Alyeska engineer requires the individual to understand and embrace the TAPS culture; to have been on the firing line with regulator questions and concerns; to successfully handle emergency situations under extreme operational pressure demands; and to have proven they can build consensus and deliver innovative and cost-effective change."

Hillary Schaefer / Sr. Director, Pipeline Operations & Maintenance

Hillary Schaefer has been selected as Alyeska's new Senior Director for Pipeline Operations & Maintenance.

Hillary began work with TAPS in 1999. Most of those years were spent in roles in the field and at pump stations; work in recent years deepened Hillary's knowledge of the inner workings of pipeline operations and Alyeska's core business functions.

"Hillary has built a reputation as a leader who collaborates across workgroups, utilizing unique strengths to achieve the best possible outcome," said Rod Hanson, VP Operations & Maintenance. "She actively participates in creating a system view by drawing on her diverse experience on TAPS, using every opportunity to leverage resources and share knowledge. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership and decision-making acumen during crises, shutdown projects and everyday operation of TAPS."

Hillary joined Alyeska as an Environmental Coordinator. Since then, she has held positions of increasing responsibility and visibility, including Pipeline & Civil Maintenance Coordinator, Response Base Supervisor, Pump Station O&M Supervisor, and Pipeline Area Manager accountable for safe operations, effective maintenance, and emergency preparedness.

"The Pipeline Operations and Maintenance team has reached remarkable milestones, and I attribute that to both O&M leadership and line-wide teamwork," Hillary said. "I am thrilled about this opportunity to lead pipeline operations as we turn the corner on 40 years of moving oil safely and reliably for Alaska."

Prior to Alyeska, Hillary spent five years working for environmental consulting firms in the Fairbanks area. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and has successfully completed numerous additional leadership training opportunities while at Alyeska. Hillary also has extensive experience in Incident Command System (ICS) processes, having served as On-scene Commander, Ops Section Chief, Deputy Incident Commander and Incident Commander on numerous actual responses and drills.

She will assume full responsibilities of this role on April 26, coinciding with John Baldridge's retirement and last day in the position.

"Please join me in congratulating Hillary on her new role and provide her with your full support as she assumes the responsibilities," Rod said. "Please also join me in once again congratulating John Baldridge on his 40 years of TAPS service and an outstanding record of strong leadership as he moves into a well-deserved retirement."

Page: Prev 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 Next
Back to top