ConocoPhillips honors great mentors

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From left: Ron Bonnie, T.J. Wheeler, David Smith, Hroar Hermansen and John Saker
Listen to these individuals share their thoughts on being mentored early in their careers, being a mentor to younger professionals and finding a mentor to help you fulfill your goals.

At ConocoPhillips, providing guidance to the next generation of oil and gas industry professionals is of paramount importance. Throughout the company’s long history, those with experience in every field have taken great care to pass on knowledge and maintain a tradition of excellence. In 2018, the company introduced a new SPIRIT of Performance Award for outstanding mentorship. These five recipients were selected based on demonstrating a superior ability to recognize and nurture talent, helping to expand the potential of young professionals, and fostering an environment of creativity and enthusiasm for growth and innovation:

  • Ron Bonnie, petrophysics fellow, Petrophysics & Reservoir Quality
  • T.J. Wheeler, senior reservoir engineering fellow, Subsurface
  • David Smith, senior reservoir engineering fellow, Subsurface
  • Hroar Hermansen, manager, Reservoir Characterization & Exploitation, ConocoPhillips Norway
  • John Saker, senior contracts advisor, U.K. Supply Chain

The word “mentor” originated in the ancient Greek language. A character in Homer’s epic, “The Odyssey,” Mentor was the trusted friend of Odysseus. During the Trojan war, he stayed behind in Ithaca to oversee the upbringing of Telemachus, advising him with the goal of preparing him to take over family responsibilities during his father´s absence.

"Think about climbing Mount Everest. You’ve taken one climbing class, and you’re preparing for the climb of your life. If you go out on your own based on that class, you’re probably going to fail. Hiring a Sherpa will ensure a higher chance of success. That’s what a mentor has done in my career."
— T.J. Wheeler, senior reservoir engineering fellow, ConocoPhillips

"If you teach people dry facts, they’ll forget; if you tell a story, they will remember it."
— Ron Bonnie

What does it take to cultivate a successful mentor/mentee relationship? Following are some suggestions from ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Performance Award recipients on being a great mentor.

  • The relationship is critical. It’s important to “click” on a personal level. Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for a genuine relationship between mentor and mentee.
  • Guide, don’t instruct. Help your mentee understand all aspects of a problem and guide them through the process of evaluation.
  • Listen without judging. Before you reject an idea, consider why it might work.
  • Look for an individual’s passions as well as strengths.
  • Share your positive and negative experiences, including mistakes you’ve made along the way.
  • Learning flows both ways. When you’re challenged by younger professionals, you learn better ways of doing things.
  • Focus on character over competency. The best leaders go beyond job skills, helping to shape the mentee’s character, values and self-awareness.