A company ranked by Fortune magazine as one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Work” can hire pretty much whomever it wants. And Devon Energy Corporation wants to hire veterans.
In fact, the company is so enthusiastic about employing veterans that, earlier this year, it established a veteran hiring goal. “Of all our open positions, we are committed to filling at least 6% with military veterans,” said Frank Rudolph, Devon’s executive vice president of human resources.
Devon is an independent company engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production across the United States and Canada. The firm offers veterans career opportunities in field work, information technology, human resources, security, and other occupations. Company headquarters are in Oklahoma City.
To achieve its veteran hiring goal, Devon hired Adam Ward, a member of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, as its dedicated military liaison; Ward recently returned from an overseas deployment. “His energy and enthusiasm add credibility to our commitment,” said Rudolph. “It proves that we take our commitment seriously and value their commitment to stand up for our nation. Having Adam in this role has changed how we engage the military population.”
Rudolph said that idealism is part of the driving force for many businesses that commit to hire veterans. “When we first decided to set a goal, it was an idealistic approach, because it is a good idea to hire veterans,” he said. “However, what makes it work for us is that military values align with Devon values. Veterans bring a level of dedication and gratitude that takes years to build in others. Veterans are driven to do an exceptional job and work to do the right thing. We get great people and great results, and we meet our company needs.”
Rudolph is a firm believer in the company’s commitment; both his father and an uncle served in World War II. “These men and women leave the military having tough experiences that most of us don’t want to hear about, let alone understand,” says Rudolph. “Here at Devon, we want them to feel like they are a respected part of the family because they are, and what they did before they were with us helped make them valuable.”
This sense of family goes back to the founding of the company by John Nichols and his son Larry in 1971. As the company has grown, a dedication to work and family balance has remained a part of its philosophy.
To get a quick glimpse of Devon, look no further than the company’s mission statement: “Devon is a results-oriented oil and gas company that builds value for shareholders through our employees by creating a culture of health, safety, and environmental stewardship in an atmosphere of optimism, teamwork, creativity, and resourcefulness and by dealing with everyone in an open and ethical manner.”
One factor that sets Devon apart, according to Rudolph, is recognizing that “our primary strength is our employees. We provide employees with the tools, direction, and support to improve upon their skills and make the most of their experience at Devon.”
Devon’s list of core values supports its commitment to its employees:
- Hire the best people
- Always do the right thing (even when no one is looking)
- Deliver results
- Be a team player
- Be a good neighbor
“These values are not only essential to our organization’s success, but are consistent and shared by veterans of the varying branches of the U.S. armed services,” said Rudolph.
Another factor that sets Devon apart is its ongoing investment in community initiatives – which focus on youth and education, the environment, and emergency response as well as cultural activities and social services. In 2012, Devon employees in the United States and Canada logged more than 21,000 volunteer hours.
Devon prides itself in being innovative. Co-founder Larry Nichols said, “There is no single employee in the company that is not in a position to be innovative, and it doesn’t matter where you are. You tend, in an oil and gas company, to think it’s the geologists and engineers who are doing the innovation. But innovation can occur anywhere – in how we relate to Wall Street and how we do our accounting efficiently.”
Nichols said that the company’s success in innovation comes through a willingness to risk and learn from failure as much as enjoying the benefits of accomplishment. He said that he has great respect for someone who has several ideas, some of which fail, because that person is “out there thinking of something new.”
In 2012, Devon had revenues of $9.5 billion on oil and gas production, and total assets of $43 billion. The company has more than 5,500 employees in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and western Canada. Devon is a member of the Fortune 500, and it is included in the S&P 500 index.
“We have a special workplace culture at Devon, and veterans fit in very well,” said John Richels, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “These professionals bring integrity, good character, and a strong work ethic – all attributes we seek in hiring the best people.”