Shortest Distance to Accomplishment – Michael Pendleton, veteran

Devon Energy  The Shortest Distance to Accomplishment  |
Published in the May / June 2013 issue of print
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Michael Pendleton will tell you that one of the best habits he acquired in the military is to focus on the mission at hand. “I learned to look at the task or mission and look for the shortest distance to accomplishment,” he said. “You just go through the obstacles that get in your way. You can’t wait for someone else to move them for you.”

Pendleton served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, and is now an assistant production foreman for Devon Energy Corporation, an independent energy company engaged in natural gas and oil exploration and production.

In the Marines, Pendleton served in both combat and support roles, with a tour in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. His assignment was to make sure his platoon was up to speed and operationally ready.

He has a similar assignment at Devon. He lives and works in Odessa, Texas, and is responsible for personnel in the production field. After wells are drilled and completed, Pendleton’s team is responsible for producing oil.

Pendleton passed his one-year anniversary with Devon in March 2013. At that time, he recognized how fortunate he was. “I received a handwritten and signed congratulatory letter from Frank Rudolph, the executive vice president of human resources,” he said. “He didn’t have to do it, but it was the extra touch this company gives. Devon really makes you feel like you are appreciated. My military discipline constantly challenges me to work more efficiently. The organization encourages a work/life balance and the ability to contribute new ideas. I look forward to coming to work.”

Pendleton appreciates the fact that Devon encourages its employees to spend time with their families. “Never with any other organization have I been encouraged to take my PTO and enjoy my family,” he said. “Devon provides resources that enable us to be stronger as a family.”
An example Pendleton cited is what happens when someone moves on to a new position, retires, or quits. “In some places, this means the team does more work with less personnel,” he said. “This would definitely cause one to work more hours and see their family less. However it is not the mindset here at Devon. Family matters.”

Pendleton also appreciates that “this is a place that trusts their foreman. As the field decision-maker, I am encouraged to trust my own decisions, and Devon always stands with me. It is great to feel so supported.” He goes on to add, “It is great to work somewhere that helps round out your toolbox.”

This Marine veteran encourages other veterans to explore their options. “Take time to learn what you are interested in,” he said. “Consider what fits your area of expertise and apply. Realize that your military experience is invaluable. It speaks volumes about who you are and how you are.”

Pendleton said that, when he signed up for the Marine Reserves, he did not know what he wanted to do. So, serving in logistics, he decided he would learn as much as he could. If Pendleton could add a piece of advice he wishes someone had offered him, “I would recommend using your military commitment to learn skills in automation or mechanical engineering. The workplace is full of opportunities to utilize this training and set you up for a great career in the future.”

Pendleton also said that transitioning military should understand that the business world does not operate quite like the military world. “Recognize that you will need to adapt your skills and style for the audience,” he said. “What worked in the military may or may not work in the civilian workplace. When I was a sergeant my mentality was ‘my way or the highway,’ but I had to quickly learn that this management style does not work if I want my whole team to have buy-in. So, I adapted my style. The leadership principles are applicable. I just needed to rein in my technique.”

Devon opened a door to opportunity, and I had the privilege of entering, said Pendleton. “I thought it would be a good fit, and I have not been disappointed. I have opportunity to be with my family and the means to care for them. Devon has set itself apart to keep us happy. It is a great place to work.”

About the Author

This article was written by Lisa Dunster