Chesapeake hiring veterans for leadership

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is hiring former military officers to take leadership roles in the company once they learn about the oil and natural gas industry.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: November 11, 2010

A couple of years ago, Chesapeake Energy Corp. began looking someplace different for field engineers to oversee the company's operations on site.

Chesapeake is luring former junior military officers to the company, rather than relying exclusively on university-educated petroleum engineers to fill those jobs.

CEO Aubrey McClendon said it is not hardto teach veterans about the oil and natural gas industry while they're working in the field because they already possess other qualities that will serve the company well.

"We feel like here they're going to become leaders," he said.

McClendon said Chesapeake can't hire enough former military officers. He hopes to add 24 or so each year.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company has hired nearly three dozen veterans since the hiring program meant to groom Chesapeake's future leaders began in June 2008.

"We have everybody from cavalry officers to naval aviators," said Tim Dehan, the company's supervisor of field recruiting.

Dehan said he appreciates the discipline, leadership and humble nature of the veterans hired by Chesapeake.

"It's really a professional and personal highlight to be able to work with all these folks," he said.

Many of Chesapeake's newest field engineers are service academy graduates, such as Kim Landry.

Landry, a West Point graduate who left the Army as a captain in 2009, recently finished up her first year with Chesapeake.

She said she likes what the company stands for, with its emphasis on the value of balancing obligations at work and at home.

Landry also craved the challenges posed by starting work in a new industry, as well as the chance to assume a leadership role at Chesapeake. Those were aspects of military life that she enjoyed as well.

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Program helps vets find jobs

Alliance International specializes in helping former military officers find jobs once they leave the armed services.

Alliance teaches veterans basic business skills to ease the transition and connects them with quality companies.

President John Todd, the company's founder, said that isn't as easy as it sounds.

"Not every company can see the benefits that a military officer can bring to the table," he said.

Todd said there is plenty of competition for officer spots in today's military so the ones who earn those positions are "pretty remarkable people.

"These people sell themselves," he said.

Todd said several energy companies, including Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Corp., have proven willing to hire veterans.

"Chesapeake is our most significant one," he said.

Tim Dehan, Chesapeake's supervisor of field recruiting, said most of the former military officers hired by the company have been referred by Alliance, but now Chesapeake is getting referrals from its own employees.

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