In 2017, Empowering Pumps & Equipment started to invite people to nominate industry professionals as a way for the #PumpTalk Community to shine a light on the PEOPLE behind the pumps and critical infrastructure that we rely on daily. In one of our recent international Zoom Meet-Ups, we had the chance to “e-meet” Steve Shaheen, Mechanical Engineer with BP. Based out of Chicago, Steve was honored to join the ranks of our #PumpTalk Celebrities and shared his story!
Q: How did you get started working in your field?
Steve: Unlike most career success stories; I do not have a very inspiring story but mine may resonate with most people. I was good at math and science growing up, my friends all enrolled at the University of Illinois, I wanted to be with my friends, oh, and they had a good engineering school. So, I said, “Engineering? Sure”. Now I will say that as I began my studies as a Mechanical Engineer, I knew it was the right choice. I found passion in solving complex problems. I worked hard in school and got good grades to show for it. Graduating in 2009 wasn’t the most ideal, but through networking and determination, I was able to land a job out of school with Sargent & Lundy, designing the first new nuclear power plant in the US in over 30 years. That made me feel like I was making an impact. After the Fukushima Daiichi plant upset, the momentum behind building new nuclear plants died…and so did my job. But I found something, I found something I wanted to do, and that was to ensure I was making an impact. In 2011, I began working in O&G and learning the industry. I learned about the scale, complexity, and impact — both good and bad. I’m happy to see the industry evolving and listening to the society it serves. There are a lot of bright, thoughtful and caring people in the O&G industry that want to make a positive impact and getting to where we need to be is only possible with a unified effort.
Q: What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
I’ve been involved in some very impactful projects and asset improvement initiatives, but nothing comes close to the relationships I’ve built with people. Getting to know people, lead them, have them lead me, learn about them and their families — that is the most rewarding thing not just in my job, but in life. As someone who loves solving complex problems, there is nothing more complex than people. People are the power behind everything, why things succeed, why things fail. Its not the skills people learn or the best equipment that is purchased; it’s the amazing attributes of the people. In both my professional and personal life, I’ve been able to meet and get to know some great people. I’ve led them through difficult times and saw how people come together for one another. It reminds you that assets come and go, but people and the bonds we build are the memories we carry for the rest of our lives.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Steve: My advice is to be curious. Be curious when it comes to learning more about yourself and be curious when it comes to learning more about your industry and line of work. If you don’t find a passion in what you are doing, stop doing it. Put in the work to find your passion, and then put the work in to be great at it. Always continue to be curious and search for what drives you and excites you. I promise you’ll be more successful in the long run. Money isn’t everything and neither is climbing to the top of the corporate ladder. Success is defined by you and the way you feel. If those are the things that motivate you, truly make you feel great and make you a better person in society — then go for it. But don’t be guided to believe those are the things required for success.
Q: Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Steve: I recently was presented with an opportunity to manage an emergency response effort. Like most people in the industry, emergency responses are accompanied with long days and nights and exhilarating highs and lows. Decisions need to be made quickly and with sound judgement, all with the added backdrop of a bit of stress. This particular response was certainly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The team was dealing with an incredibly complex situation to manage personal and process safety, the environmental impact and the integrity of the assets. But this is once again where the strength of unity and amazing attributes of a team shines. We were given the creative freedom to think outside of the box and were empowered to collaboratively come to the solutions required — and we delivered. The journey along the way certainly was not easy, there were roadblocks, patience was tested, things didn’t always work. However, navigating the team through the ups and downs (and them leading me when my frustration levels were high) and together accomplishing our goal, there was no better feeling in life. As I grow older, I’m not sure I will remember all of the details of our efforts, but I will never forget the journey and the rewarding feeling after team success.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Steve: Times are tough right now. People are managing a lot at the moment — unemployment and the fear of providing for your family, working from home and trying to still be a productive employee, parents now becoming teachers (and having no clue what it takes), divided politics, social unrest, and a global pandemic causing many of us to be fearful for ourselves and our loved ones. It’s a lot and its OK to admit that it’s a lot. Now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected with the people in your life — or even make new connections! Let them know you are there for them and that you might need them to be there for you. We can get through this and we will — and we’ll be stronger because of it. Times like this allow us to internally reflect on who we really are and in turn, gives us the opportunity to shape who we want to be. Take advantage of the opportunity.
THANK YOU, STEVE! WE LOOK FORWARD TO KEEPING UP WITH YOU THROUGH THE #PUMPTALK COMMUNITY!
KNOW AN AMAZING PERSON WHO IS MAKING VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS WITHIN INDUSTRY? NOMINATE THEM TO BE AN “INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE WEEK”!