When Ponca City native Chris Scully completed his graduate degree here in the mid-1990s, he found most of his job prospects were out of state.
Scully spent 11 years with Intel, in Oregon and Arizona, before Oklahoma — thanks to Dell — offered a competitive technology job to beckon him back in August 2006.
“I never was the guy who wanted to leave, but all the tech jobs were on the east and west coasts,” Scully, 42, said. “I'm so glad Dell picked Oklahoma City for a business center. It's what brought us home.”
In the seven years since his return, Scully's job has expanded from regional manager of environmental health and safety to facilities manager and, as of 18 months ago, one of two general managers — or site directors — for Dell's 175,000-square-foot business center at 3501 SW 15. There, some 2,000 employees work around the clock selling or supporting computers, and providing outsourced IT services to companies nationwide.
“I like the diversity of the job,” Scully said. “In one meeting, I can roll up my sleeves and be tactical, dealing with something specific like the temperature on the third floor,” he said. “And then, the next meeting is more strategic.”
He, his co-director and Gov. Mary Fallin recently sat down with Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell in Round Rock, Texas, to discuss Oklahoma's business environment.
Scully said he's excited about the vision of his CEO, who's making a bid to buy Dell, end its 25-year history as a publicly-held company and compete with smartphones and tablets that have taken a chunk out of the company's desktop and laptop business.
According to news reports, Dell plans to invest heavily in tablets and a new breed of hybrid personal computers that offer the touch-screen controls of mobile devices, as well as become a diversified seller of technology services, business software and high-end computers.
Scully recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: My parents grew up and met in Barnsdall in Osage County before marrying and moving to Ponca City, where they still live. They both worked 30-plus years for Conoco; my mom in human resources and dad in data control. I have a sister, five years younger, who lives in Plano. Growing up, our family pretty much every Saturday would drive the one hour to Barnsdall to spend time with our big extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and then drive back on Sunday. During junior high and after high school graduation, I spent two full summers there with both sets of grandparents to play American Legion baseball; mostly as a left fielder. Other summers, and throughout college, I worked as a janitor and in maintenance for Conoco, which is what led to my choice of a college major.
Q: In what did you major?
A: Conoco had a strong safety plan, which inspired me to pursue a bachelor's in environmental health and safety (EHS) at UCO (University of Central Oklahoma), where I graduated with just one credit hour more than I needed. My wife Leigh and I married the summer after I graduated, but we stayed on there in an apartment for me to work in UCO's physical plant and at AutoZone, and pursue a master's in adult education. I thought I might want to be a teacher. The degree turned out to be a nice complement for the corporate training in EHS I went on to do. I learned to prepare lessons and speak in front of people.
Q: What was your first professional job?
A: After earning my master's degree, I worked as the safety guy for Flintco for one year, including three months on a project in Wichita Falls.
Q: And your transition to the technology sector?
A: I worked 11 years in EHS with Intel, including three years in Portland, Ore., and then eight years in a suburb of Phoenix. Portland was gorgeous. In the late summer and early fall, we enjoyed months of sun. Our second daughter was born there, and we made lots of friends our same age. We still keep up with them on Facebook. In Phoenix, I learned to golf. Our front yard was a putting green and backyard: gravel, palm trees and a swimming pool. As part of Intel's regional corporation, I traveled the world — to Europe, Asia and Central America — and got to see so many cool places.
Q: What was your favorite business trip?
A: Ireland. I visited a factory there twice. There's lots of Irish heritage on my father's side, so it felt like going home. My middle name is Shawn, which is what Leigh and I named our son.
Q: How did you come to move back home to Oklahoma?
A: A friend at Intel who knew I was an Oklahoman told me that Dell had an EHS position here, overseeing Nashville and other sites. We knew that if we were going to ever move home, we had only a small window of time when our kids would be young enough. Our oldest was just starting junior high.
Q: You and Leigh moved out of state in 1995. What did you think of Oklahoma City upon your return in the fall of 2006?
A: We were blown away. It didn't feel like the same city. We always thought that if we moved back, we'd live in Tulsa. When we left, things with MAPS and in Bricktown were just starting to happen. We were amazed with the transformation. I always say that what Oklahoma City did to turn itself around is a testament to gaining the favor of a company like Dell.
• Position: General manager, Dell Oklahoma City Business Center.
• Birth date: Nov. 29, 1970.
• Family: Wife Leigh (they met at Ponca City High School when she was a 15-year-old cheerleader and he was a 17-year-old football player); daughters Jordan, a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, and Kaitlyn, a sophomore at Deer Creek High School; and son Shawn, a sixth-grader at Deer Creek.
• Education: University of Central Oklahoma, bachelor's in environmental health and safety, and master's in adult education.
• Home church: Quail Springs Baptist Church.
• Pastimes: Watching his daughter sing in church or act in school performances, and his son play sports. Also, restoring old cars, including a 1991 Mustang convertible Jordan drove to OSU this year and a 1928 Model A pickup.