Bill Frichtl / Electrical Engineer, retired
Reflecting on his Alyeska career, recent retiree Bill Frichtl said, "38 years is a long time, but it went quick." Time certainly flew for Frichtl, an electrical engineer who often found himself amid of some of the most significant projects, changes and milestones in TAPS history.
Frichtl was there during construction and countless upgrades. He was there during peak throughput and high-profile emergencies. He was there for fax machines and computers. And he stayed for nearly 40 years because of the people, the work, the company culture and TAPS.
"The pipeline was my life and I enjoyed it," Frichtl said, smiling. "Simply put, it's been good. I wish I could have lasted a few more years. I'd do it again."
For his legacy of extraordinary dedication, excellent work and sharing his institutional knowledge with generations of TAPS workers, Frichtl was presented a 2015 Alyeska Atigun Award for Lifetime Achievement. Frichtl retired from Alyeska and his Senior Discipline Engineering Advisor position in November 2014.
To say that Frichtl has seen it all on TAPS isn't exactly accurate, but he has undoubtedly seen and experienced more than most in the TAPS workforce. His eyes were opened wide upon his arrival in Alaska in February 1976. He was a young electrical engineer from the Midwest suddenly charged with helping oversee the simultaneous construction of new pump stations along the 800-mile corridor that would contain TAPS.
"I was certainly amazed coming from Illinois' flat country to seeing Alaska's majestic mountains and big skies," he said. "It was memorable."
So was the work. Frichtl was based out of Fairbanks, but rarely there. He juggled multiple projects and teams with basic equipment and tools, and archaic communication devices. He traveled the line constantly to check in on the worksites, which isn't as glamourous as it sounds. The roads were rough and narrow, and the helicopter and plane rides were, in his words, scary. He still gets chills talking about an emergency helicopter landing that came shortly after leaving Pump Station 4 and traveling over Atigun Pass on a foggy day.
Frichtl was excited to be part of building TAPS, a project of enormous magnitude and importance. He said he was always learning new things, especially from mechanical engineer Joe Willing, who he called Uncle Joe, and fellow engineer Paul Klueber, who was also helping build pump stations.
"It was all new to me – it was fun, but it was work," Frichtl said. "There was so much work to do, so many people and companies, so many shops. People were pretty much standing on top of each other working, especially when it came to startup. But being there early on and during startup was the best experience one could have."
Like everyone, Frichtl celebrated the end of construction. He also knew that his journey, like that of TAPS, was just beginning.
After startup, he relocated to Alyeska's Anchorage office, where he worked out of the Operations group. The team relentlessly sought system improvements and innovation. Work on TAPS "was never normal," Frichtl said, and he spent weeks in the field on massive mechanical and technological upgrades.
Hard work is in Frichtl’s blood. He grew up on a farm in Southeast Illinois, the seventh in a family of 10 children. As an adult, he was so committed to his work he rarely took vacations. When he did, he was notorious for coming into the office occasionally to check in on projects anyway.
"I didn't feel like I needed time away from my work, at least not early on," he said. "I got into the system very deeply, intimately. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities and work environment. And since I was involved with all the changes and upgrades, I wanted to be at the sites taking the extra steps to help people learn."
Among his favorite work moments, he said TAPS startup was momentous, and that two others stand out.
The startup of all of TAPS' 62 remote gate valves (RGVs) was a special highlight. "If anything, I have a soft spot for the RGVs – they are out of sight, out of mind, but they play a big role in the safe operations of the pipeline," he said. "They have to operational, and they need tender loving care."
And then there was the stretch in the late '80s when TAPS was transporting oil at unexpected highs and efficiency: "We were moving 2.1 million barrels a day for a month – now that was exciting," he said. "The orders from up high were, 'Don't shut down.' We used DRA (drag reducing agent) to pump beyond the mechanical horsepower. And I was involved in designing the DRA injection systems."
When asked the secret to his longevity, Frichtl quickly answered, "I never became a supervisor. I had a strong desire not to work as a supervisor. I know my limitations and it paid off. … The other thing that is a special case to my longevity is my willingness to work. I did not have a close supervisor; they let me do what I thought was best. That's what kept me going."
For almost 40 years, Frichtl kept going. His work helped build TAPS, then keep it running and evolving. He knows his fingerprints are all over the system, and he's proud that he's a part of history.
"Eight hundred miles of pipe and all those pump stations in two years? And we built it without any high-tech equipment. It's amazing," Frichtl said. "Something like that is never going to happen again."
Hal Eppley / Field Materials Coordinator
For Hal Eppley, there are no large or small jobs. Regardless of the scope or urgency, he approaches all of his work at Pump Station 1 with the same level of professionalism, ownership and importance. Coworkers say that "above and beyond" isn't high enough praise for Eppley's contributions and that he doesn't wait for other duties as assigned. He enthusiastically jumps in whenever he sees an opportunity to help others and improve the workplace.
For that commitment to excelling at his work and contributing to the success of his coworkers, the 26-year TAPS employee and current Alyeska Field Materials Coordinator recently received an Alyeska 2015 Atigun Award for Teamwork. It's a fitting honor for Eppley. He said, "For me, it's all about contributing. I love being a part of a team. And this job is perfect, exactly what I want to do. When my two weeks come up, I really look forward to going back to Pump Station 1."
Eppley added that he is passionate about TAPS, his teammates, worksite and company, and admits that he simply loves being busy and helpful.
"It's nice to be recognized with this award, but I've always been a service support kind of individual," Eppley said. "I always have an attitude that we can do it. No is not an option. If I don't have the answer, I'll find the answer and get back to you. I take pride in my follow-up and that I'm there to answer the phone when it rings."
Eppley's institutional knowledge goes beyond materials and spans the length of TAPS. He has worked in Anchorage and at six pump stations, including Pump Station 1, where he's been posted for 15 years. He also worked in many positions as a TAPS contractor and Alyeska direct hire. He was a HAZMAT Specialist, worked in maintenance, repair and projects, and transitioned into a series of positions involving materials management. In his current role, he offers efficient, accurate and cost-saving ordering, unloading, sorting and delivering of materials.
"People come to me and they need my support and knowledge in order for them to do their job or get their equipment back online," he said. "I have close relationships with the lead techs, planners and team members. I know what's available locally, I know what’s on my shelf, I know how projects can support us, I know who to call in Fairbanks, and I know who the vendors are. I always look for ways to streamline the work and save money. I take stewardship in our work."
Eppley also feels ownership in roles that aren’t in his job description but embody his teamwork commitment. He supports and mentors others. He drives personnel and materials wherever they need to go. He picks up the pump station’s newspaper in the morning, delivers mail directly to coworkers, and even grabs an occasional pair of boot strings for colleagues in need. He helps organize the annual Pump Station 1 Fun Run and assists in rolling out wellness initiatives. He's even known for his creative decorating of the Pump Station 1 safety bulletin board.
"I guess when people ask if I can help, I'm someone who is able to do it and wants to do it," he said. "But I don’t see myself as a leader. I just want to be part of it and get everyone else involved, too."
Robert "Bob" Stirling / Pump Station 1 Technician
When Robert "Bob" Stirling began his career as an Alyeska technician at Pump Station 6 in 1979, he didn't know much about the work. He was just excited to have a job with a company on the rise.
"I had to learn everything – it was all new for me, a new industry, a new career," Stirling explained. "It was good timing and luck on my side. I got hired on and they didn't hire anyone for field jobs for five years. And I was working with a lot of old hands who had done everything, including starting the pipeline.”
Today, Stirling is the old hand. He's held diverse positions, worked at every pump station, traveled every mile of the line, and collaborated with hundreds of TAPS staff. Stirling also has a sterling safety record: He was recently recognized by Alyeska for going more than 25 years without a recordable injury or preventable vehicle accident. Now when new technicians begin working at Pump Station 1, Stirling provides their hands-on education.
"I’m the trainer for the newly hired technicians – that's my primary responsibility," he said. "It's really rewarding and a lot of fun. We work together for about a year and a half. I mentor them, introduce them to the pipeline, the company, our culture, how we do things, how things work, and I get a chance to pass on my knowledge. They are always jazzed about nailing down a cool job at a really good company, so that keeps me enthused. I like being around that energy."
Stirling recently called in after his shift at Pump Station 1 to talk about his decades of experiences and safety focus.
You've worked along TAPS for 35-plus years. Thinking back, this must be a special experience.
I think that it's a journey and I'm not sure that there's a seminal moment for me. It's more about each year you learn something. As the years go on, you don't feel like there’s an 'ah ha' moment. You get miles under your belt and have an idea of what you need to do and where you want to go. It's been a natural thing.
Why did you choose to start working as a technician?
It was a heck of an experience – I was straight from college. The jobs were pretty plentiful during construction, but as construction ended and they started pumping oil, the boom slowed down and I made my move. I was a junior at UAA in a natural science program and interested in going into medicine. I ran out of money and the technical field is what I gravitated toward, so it was a natural fit.
It was cool time to work out there – they were doing everything they could to increase production. The oilfield was booming. They started with two pipelines, ARCO and BP, or Sohio back then. When they brought on Kuparuk and more oil fields, the engineers and everybody were focused on all the ideas and techniques to get more production while keeping the pumps running totally full all the time.
You have a unique work history. Where has your career taken you since working as a tech?
I've worked at every pump station doing some kind of project or other sundry assignment. I'm a field employee, that's what my heart is. I almost feel like I'm part of the pipe.
In '05-'06, I was a startup supervisor for the Pump Station 9 Strategic Configuration. There were new pumps and that was really cool job. I was also an exempt employee with a bunch of special assignments, from management to engineering to upgrading stick drawings to electronic. I was the district stop for an electrical upgrade. This was a huge project. My area was pumps 1 through 4. I monitored discrepancies between electrical codes. As codes changed, we upgraded all the electrical work we could safely. That included new wiring and fixing all the code violations.
I also had a really cool assignment operating a DRA (drag reducing agent) injection facility making sure we maintained this additive going into the pipeline so we could flow more oil. It was basically a mobile home that we winterized. We called it Milepost 203. There were just two of us on 24-hour coverage for a couple of years – one person working half the day, the other working the other half. We cooked our own meals. We were supported by Pump Station 5. They'd drive up groceries and equipment. It was quiet work.
Why have you spent your career at Alyeska?
I get the security of working for a really good company that takes really good care of me and my family. I feel safe, I don't feel in danger of being hurt. And yet, I get all these jobs. It's like having multiple careers for the same company.
You know, the thing that I find interesting is now I'm one of the older technicians. But you never stop learning here, even with the same job. You never have the same identical problem over and over. It's always something new. What's the problem? How do you work through it? It's challenging and it keeps you humble. You think you know it all and then you’re sitting there scratching your head, asking 'What do we do next?'
What are the most interesting aspects of your work?
The technical side of the work is a lot of fun, but we've got a lot of good people working for Alyeska and that's the best part of the job. I enjoy working with the different characters at this company.
Talk about some of the big changes that have happened in your work over the years.
It mirrors what's happened in our lives. Information technology is the biggest change. I'm on a cell phone right now. In the old days, phones were bolted to the wall and I'd be standing in line in the commons areas waiting to call home. We used to monitor equipment and log data with a pencil and clipboard; now we have handheld instruments with remote sensors and electronic sensors.
It has been a good thing, but it has its drawbacks, too. Electronics are great as long as they're running great. When they break down, you need vendor support. We used to be able to strip anything down and make them go. It's like cars. Now you've got to take it to the shop and it gets plugged into a computer.
You know so much more now, there's so much more data, we're monitoring more. And we're more careful about how we run equipment. We help it run more efficiently and longer because you can track and operate it better. For example, a gas compressor. There's a program that keeps it out of surge and stall. In old days, you would operate it at its limit and you would know it's at its limit when it started banging, then you'd back it off. That was as far as we can go with that.
You were recently recognized for going more than 25 years without a recordable injury or preventable vehicle accident. Congratulations. What's your safety approach and view on Alyeska's safety culture?
Safety is a team effort and everyone has a part. There is no secret to safety. You have to put in the hard work. The executives and leaders, they might have us start a new program, they set the lead, they tell us their expectations. My job is to try to figure out how to meet those objectives and what my contribution is, embrace it and make it mine. If you do your part, you get things done safely.
Obviously, I'm proud (of my safety record). One of my primary goals as a mentor is passing along our safety culture. I make a big show about safety. I talk to new technicians about the proper way to get into a vehicle. I also do that when we stop and put on the parking brake. When we're backing up, I get someone out to spot them. I let them know that we don't just tell people about safety, we expect that it is done.
Leischen "Lee" Bauke / Contactor Safety Program Coordinator
Leischen “Lee” Bauke is all about safety. She is a certified safety professional and a certified safety and environmental trainer. In fact, “safety” has been in all three of her job titles since she joined Alyeska 14 years ago: Field Safety Specialist from 2001-2006, Fire Safety and Industrial Hygiene Subject Matter Expert from 2006-2007, and her current role as Contactor Safety Program Coordinator.
Lee’s commitment to safety even extends beyond Alyeska. She was recently appointed by former Alaska Governor Sean Parnell to a public seat on the Alaska Safety Advisory Council, which promotes safety so that resources can be used to reduce accidental death and injury. She also serves as an adjunct professor for occupational health and safety/hazardous waste management courses with the University of Alaska.
Lee recently talked about the importance of safety in our unique TAPS workplace and shared a few of her favorite moments from her wide-ranging work experience with Alyeska.
You have worked at Alyeska for 14 years. Why have you chosen to spend your career at our company?
I never consciously chose to work at Alyeska – it was a lucky happenstance that occurred through a course of events. I was getting my master’s degree in Environmental Science at UAA and started working with a contractor as a Health Safety Environment specialist in Valdez. I really liked the town, the job and the people. I thought I would focus on the environmental side, but found that safety became more and more my main focus, so I started to pursue that aspect and got my national certifications.
At Alyeska, we have the benefit of having a great Safety team which has a lot of knowledge. So if you choose to continue working here, there are all sorts of resources and subject matter experts to ask for advice and for their knowledge based on their experience on and off TAPS.
Talk about your current work as Alyeska’s Contactor Safety Program Coordinator?
I work with new TAPS contractors and help guide their transition onto TAPS, as well as provide safety oversight with existing contractors. I assist Alyeska’s contract representatives with their contractors’ transition to TAPS, and help contracting officers and Supply Chain with contractor reviews. I perform audits, evaluations, inspections, investigations, training and all other duties associated with safety oversight of contractors. I also provide support to field safety on the pipeline and in Valdez.
What do you love about your job?
I really like being outdoors and traveling to the pump stations and around the Valdez area. I like working with the Supply Chain Department and project managers to bring contractors onto TAPS. I like being part of the Oil Spill Contingency Plan teams, though I'm usually not crazy about the food.
What are the most interesting aspects of work in the field?
Who doesn’t love working and living in Alaska? People pay big money to travel up here and see the state for like 10 days. We get to see it in all four seasons. I like seeing the folks at the pump stations that I haven’t seen in ages. I like seeing people in Valdez and catching up with them. I like seeing a rainbow from the DIF parking lot or from the VTO when I get off of work. I like meeting the contractors I have talked to and emailed with about their new work on TAPS in the field and see how they are doing. I love working the shutdowns in the field and seeing the work progress over the few short hours – it’s like watching a perfectly synchronized dance.
What are the most interesting aspects of office work?
The best part of working in the office is catching up with the other departments, whether it be because I have a meeting scheduled, or I need training assistance for a contractor or a program, or if I need to speak with Projects or Supply Chain. All of this is critical and keeping those connections is really viable. Plus, I get to hear about how their kids and pets are doing and what happened over a long weekend – quite frankly their lives seem a lot more interesting than mine.
Can you please discuss the role that safety plays in your daily work?
If I didn’t focus on safety and be ever vigilant in my own actions and those of others, I probably wouldn’t have a long tenure in any position I aspired to. In fact, I think I have to be more conservative due to my role as a safety professional. I mean that I think I perform more conservative SPSAs and more conservative Journey Management perhaps than others may do as I feel I am setting an example to myself and others. It is pretty embarrassing when a person makes a slipup and has an incident, whether at home or at work; it is doubly embarrassing when you are a safety professional. So I think that all of us with careers that focus on safety tend to be even more diligent than others.
Talk about our safety culture at Alyeska and along TAPS.
The safety culture that I see is stellar. I often work with other companies and can clearly see that Alyeska’s metrics as well as our goals, expectations and tools that allow us to achieve those goals are, bar none, some of the best out there.
Congratulations on being named to the Alaska Safety Advisory Council. That is quite an honor and really embodies your commitment to safety.
We serve at the pleasure of Alaska’s governor and make recommendations to the governor and legislature on state policy and programs that deal with the safety and health of Alaskans. We consist of 14 members representing industry, labor, the general public and federal, state and local governments. Our committee will work in cooperation with official and unofficial organizations, individuals and groups to marshal resources toward reducing accidental death and injuries and to promote safety, health and wellness for all Alaskans.
I’ve just started working with representatives from the Governor’s office for the first time. I find the new dynamics are really interesting, hearing items from a non-pipeline perspective. Our council has met a few times and are in the process of planning the Governor’s Health and Safety Conference, which is to be held on March 24.
When did you perform your last Safe Performance Self Assessment (SPSA)?
I do an SPSA every morning before getting in the car and backing it out of the garage.
Jennifer Stubblefield / Valdez TAPS Fire Captain
Longtime Valdez TAPS Fire Captain Jennifer Stubblefield was recently elected President of the Alaska State Firefighters Association. The announcement of this honor gave Stubblefield an opportunity to look back on her career and share some of her experiences.
What's your current job on TAPS? How long have you worked here?
I am currently a fire captain for Doyon Universal Services and have worked at the Valdez Marine Terminal for more than 8.5 years.
What made you join the fire team? Did you always want to be a firefighter?
I joined the fire team because it was an opportunity for me to grow professionally and as a person. Growing up in a farming community, I had never heard of a firefighter and wanted to be a cowgirl lassoing bad guys.
How do you view your role on TAPS?
I believe my role as a fire captain on TAPS is one of many roles that are meant to keep business operating and people safe. I try to be an advocate for all workers. During pre-planning or site visits, I am not only thinking about emergency response, but also that the workers have their needed protective gear, the right tools, and a safe work area.
You were just elected President of the Alaska State Firefighters Association. What does this organization do and why is it important to you?
The Alaska State Firefighters Association is a non-profit organization that is an advocate for Alaska firefighters and sponsors the annual state fire conference. The organization provides scholarships for dependents, training grants for firefighters, death and disability benefits, a Firefighter's Benevolent Fund, a legislative voice on relevant issues, and other assistance to local chapters. The organization is important to me as I see the differences we make in communities across the state. Right now, we are working on a Line of Duty Death Committee that would respond immediately to a community that loses a firefighter and assist that department with arranging shift coverage from other departments, counseling, benefit assistance, etc.
Firefighting isn't traditionally known for being an industry with many women. How did you end up becoming a firefighter? How do you think your gender has affected your experience?
As a newspaper editor, police often sent me beyond barricades for stories and fire departments sent me into buildings on fire. I have some great photos, but the safety culture was different then and some risks unknown. I often took arson investigation and other crime scene photos. When I initially tried to become a firefighter, I was informed there would never be a female "fireman" at my local department, which is still true to this day. I then paid for my firefighter training and job-tested at several places. Finally, hired as a full-time Midwest City firefighter, I was in the chief's office my first day being welcomed. An engineer walked in and said, "I have worked here too long if you just hired a female. She doesn't belong here." Another fire captain later said, "I almost said something" to the engineer, but he said nothing.
It is unfortunate that some people cannot see beyond gender, and it is also unfortunate that these are my tamer interactions. Experiencing this behavior has definitely helped me as a supervisor to recognize when people are treated unfairly based on race, age, gender, etc. Allowing bad behavior is the same as condoning it, and I can intervene at the lowest level. You have to be an advocate for your employee, speak up when someone is behaving inappropriately, and stop it right then. You may not be able to change someone's beliefs, but you can control the behavior at work.
Finally, what was your last Safe Performance Self Assessment (SPSA)?
My last SPSA was checking the weather forecast for a trip as it changed from clear to rain and clouds quickly. I cancelled my flight and drove.
Katie Pesznecker / Stakeholder Relations Manager
Katie is a proud graduate of Oregon State University, where she graduated with a degree in English. In 2001, she moved to Anchorage to work as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. Why Anchorage, Alaska? “I’ve always been a curious and adventurous person,” said Katie. “Adventures, whether personal or professional, present unique opportunities to learn and understand the environment around us.”
Katie started working for Alyeska in July 2007 after seven years as a journalist. She was hired as an Internal Communications Coordinator, a position that focused on communication with employees. Her duties expanded over time; today she’s the Stakeholder Relations Manager with responsibilities including, crisis communications, media relations, and direct support for Alyeska’s executives and leaders. At the community level, she manages Alyeska’s Anchorage and statewide philanthropy program, deciding how to best invest philanthropy dollars in Alaska nonprofits. “That part of the job is extremely rewarding,” said Katie.
TAPS is an integral component of what drives Alaska’s economic engine – 90% of the state’s budget comes from oil revenue. At today’s throughput and crude price, the state’s coffers receive approximately $24 million a day in revenue. “One of my major jobs is to tell the company’s story externally – to our stakeholders, politicians and community leaders – to help them learn about our business and understand our challenges. I’m proud to work for a company where the work we do has a significant impact on both the public and private sectors.”
When asked to share an example of where she’s seen Alyeska’s values of safety and teamwork demonstrated on TAPS, Katie said, “Teamwork really shines during oil spill response drills on the pipeline and in Valdez. Hundreds of people from Alyeska and state and federal agencies come together to practice responding to a simulated crisis.”
One of Katie’s most memorable experiences was during her first winter on TAPS, when her boss sent her and two coworkers on a drive from Fairbanks to Pump Station 1 to distribute commemorative 30th anniversary books to employees. “It was my first time being out on the line, driving over Atigun Pass, and visiting some of the more remote pump stations,” explained Katie. “I was so impressed by our facilities and by the commitment of the people who staff them – the pride people have for this pipeline and this business is something special.”
Like so many TAPS employees, Katie volunteers her free time in support of various community events and activities, and she serves on boards and committees in support of organizations in Anchorage and across the state, including Food Bank of Alaska, Anchorage Schools Foundation, and American Lung Association Leadership Council.
Josh Lazaro / Intern, Pipeline Integrity Testing (PIT) Program
What were your expectations for this internship when you first started? My only expectation was that I would be held to a high performance standard without regard to the task assigned.
What was the most interesting or educational project you worked on and why? The most interesting and educational project I have worked on has been verifying line classes for facility corrosion drawings. This project has allowed me to utilize and combine my mechanical engineering studies with the knowledge I have accumulated by working with extremely talented engineers at Alyeska. The most interesting aspects of this project include the critical thinking involved in verifying line classes without being able to physically examine the piping, as well as the precautions necessary to ensure the safety of TAPS.
Who is someone who really mentored you, and how did they do that? Sose Vartanian was the person who mentored me the most. Any question I had she would continually take the time to assist me and give advice. Not only did she spend time giving me work-related advice, she gave me career and life advice as well. She worked diligently to ensure I would persevere as an intern with Alyeska and at life.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences you had during the internship. My favorite experience through the duration of my internship was driving from Fairbanks to Pump Station 1. Being able to physically view and understand how the pump stations were designed is a pertinent advantage and skill. I was able to speak with tremendously knowledgeable technicians and operators who were able to answer any questions I had.
Describe what you’ve learned about the TAPS culture so far and how you have identified with at least one of the five cultural attributes: System View, Make Sound Decisions, Learn-Improve-Innovate, Speak Up-Step Up, Act With Discipline. Being involved with the TAPS culture has trained me to recognize how every task performed can involve each of the five attributes in one way or another. As my internship comes to completion, I have been able to identify the most with the Making Sound Decisions attribute. All of the tasks I’ve been involved in have emphasized the importance of making sound decisions, particularly when verifying risk factors in the facility corrosion database.
Now that you’ve spent many weeks working on TAPS, what’s your impression of Alyeska, TAPS, or its people? Alyeska is an excellent company! The reason Alyeska is such a profound company is because of the people who work there. Everyone works as a cohesive group, and to the best of their abilities to ensure the integrity of TAPS.
Adam Emrick / Intern, B Crew, Pump Station 1
What were your expectations for this internship when you first started? When I first started, I had no idea what I was going to be getting myself into. I did not have any fellow students that I knew of who had previously done the internship. I just expected a lot of hustle, in a fairly strict setting.
What was the most interesting or educational project you worked on and why? The most interesting and educational project that I was a part of this summer was the troubleshooting of Accutek wireless transmitters. It was a fairly simple task, however, I had not had a chance to work with wireless instrumentation systems up to that point.
Who is someone who really mentored you, and how did they do that? I was mentored by the lead technician at Pump Station 1, Mr. John Draper. He was very easy to get along with and never stopped pushing me. His style of leadership was incredibly effective, and it was seen most by the level of respect every single technician had for him.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences you had during the internship. My favorite experience during my internship was when we conducted oil spill response training. I first learned about the techniques used during a classroom session, but it truly was made memorable when I saw the PS1 team in action on the river. The tactics that were used, in conjunction with using an airboat, were highly effective and surprisingly fast.
Describe what you’ve learned about the TAPS culture so far and how you have identified with at least one of the five cultural attributes: System View, Make Sound Decisions, Learn-Improve-Innovate, Speak Up-Step Up, Act With Discipline. I’ve learned that the level of preparation that goes into each job is extensive. Not only does every maintenance task have a checklist, but it requires the technician to fully go over the procedure as well as look in to each drawing that deals with the task at hand. I believe that this follows closely with “Taking a System View.” This is one of the number one things that must be done prior to taking on a procedure, as any mishap could lead to a chain reaction that could cause a shutdown of the pipeline.
Now that you’ve spent many weeks working on TAPS, what’s your impression of Alyeska, TAPS, or its people? The number one thing that impressed me was the fact that from day one, I did not feel like an intern. Every single Alyeska employee that I interacted with enthusiastically greeted me and was more than willing to stop what they were doing in an instant to make sure that I knew what was going on. Another thing that impressed me was the safety culture. Most companies can talk day and night about safety, but very few can actually successfully employ it to the degree that Alyeska does.
I would like to thank everyone at Pump Station 1 for a fun and informative summer. I am also very thankful for everyone at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company for providing such a great opportunity.
Allyson Payne / Intern, Information Technology
Was this your first internship on TAPS? I have two summer internships, last year and this year.
What were your expectations for this internship when you first started? My expectations were to learn more about the company and build business relationships. Last summer I learned a lot about APSC, but I knew I had not learned everything. Having a second internship has only built on top of what I have already learned and I was able to contribute more based on the knowledge I already had.
What was the most interesting or educational project you worked on and why? The most interesting and educational project that I worked on was the IT SharePoint website. The current SharePoint tool is on a 2007 platform. It was a challenge to build a lot of the site’s content with the limited functionality. It took a great deal of creativity, improvising, and planning to get a final result.
Who is someone who really mentored you, and how did they do that? The person that has created a positive influence and that really brought value to my internship was the CIO, Bill Rosetti. I have had various meetings with Bill, and he has always put things into perspective. In meetings that were directly related to projects I was working on, he took the time to explain concepts or give me better direction. I have learned a lot from just listening to Bill speak and give his perspectives on things.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences you had during the internship. My favorite experiences working at APSC was meeting new APSC employees. An important part of a company is its employees. And employees are a huge reflection on the company. I have had nothing but great experiences meeting new employees which always reaffirms how great a company Alyeska is.
Describe what you’ve learned about the TAPS culture so far and how you have identified with at least one of the five cultural attributes: System View, Make Sound Decisions, Learn-Improve-Innovate, Speak Up-Step Up, Act With Discipline. I have learned that TAPS really takes pride in their culture and instills it in all employees. I think creating the 5 cultural attributes is proof of that. I think it is important that the company has created these attributes to better the company as well as the employees. I have been able to identify with all of the attributes but the one that I identify with the most is Learn, Improve and Innovate. I think as an intern it our job to learn and contribute the knowledge we have to better improve the business.
Now that you’ve spent many weeks working on TAPS, what’s your impression of Alyeska, TAPS, or its people? I think TAPS is a great company and I really admire the work that the employees do. Each employee is an important part of the company that helps reach the end goal of delivering oil. I also think that it is great that the company has an internship program. I think having an internship program shows an extension of how the company wants to learn and grow.
Eric Francisco / Intern, HR & Corporate Communications
Was this your first internship on TAPS? This is my first internship on TAPS. I was fortunate enough to begin my internship early on April 15.
What were your expectations for this internship when you first started? I expected my internship on TAPS to be challenging, rewarding, and a kick-start to my career.
What was the most interesting or educational project you worked on and why? I’ve enjoyed all of my projects working for TAPS. However, I’m currently working on a project for the Alaska Native Program moving their various applications from paper format to electronic. This project has been the most educational as it has allowed me to learn and become proficient with Microsoft InfoPath and SharePoint.
Who is someone who really mentored you, and how did they do that? Tabetha Toloff and Dorothy Lord-Matthew have been my primary mentors. Dorothy knows APSC inside and out and has been invaluable in sharing her extensive knowledge with me.
Tabetha is a master of communication. Communication has been a large part of the work I’ve been doing this summer. Tabetha has been a shining example of communicating effectively with people to move your work forward.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences you had during the internship. One of my favorite experiences has been to travel to the village of Tatitlek in Prince William Sound. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend their Peksulineq Festival with APSC President Tom Barrett.
Describe what you’ve learned about the TAPS culture so far and how you have identified with at least one of the five cultural attributes: System View, Make Sound Decisions, Learn-Improve-Innovate, Speak Up-Step Up, Act With Discipline. I’ve learned that the TAPS culture is a safety culture. All employees seem to be conscious of the fact that we are conducting risky work with zero room for error. Safety is the top priority for TAPS. I strongly identify with Taking a System View in my role as the Executive Intern. I have worked with the Alaska Native Program, Corporate Communications, and Human Resources. This work has taken me to both Fairbanks and the Valdez Marine Terminal. I have seen how the different locations of APSC affect one another and it has allowed me to Take a System View on my work moving forward.
Now that you’ve spent many weeks working on TAPS, what’s your impression of Alyeska, TAPS, or its people? During this internship I’ve learned that TAPS is the lifeblood of our state. The importance of the work done by TAPS employees cannot be overstated. This notion is felt throughout the company and contributes to TAPS overall success.