The Situation

Our client was a VC-backed company that had developed and started to manufacture a machine that would enable oil & gas exploration and production firms to join sections of metal pipes on site and produce flangeless joints that were at least as strong as the pipes themselves. With perfectly flush joints as strong as the pipe body in tension, compression, internal pressure, external pressure, and torsion, the finished forge-weld has the same metallurgical characteristics as the base pipe itself.

Today’s exploration & production challenges call for even stronger tubular connections, which can then be set deeper, hold higher pressures and provide corrosion resistance to downhole gases such as H2S and CO2. With 85% of current tubular failures occurring at the joints – where thread failure is the major issue - the advantages of a strong integral forge-welded connection become obvious.

 

The Solution

With this brief, the key element of our challenge was to find an individual with sufficient senior experience and core technical strengths to take up a pioneering role as the company’s first employee based in the USA. Although our client had a strong technical offering, the next key step in the company’s development would be the successful conduct of a series of field tests. The COO would be based in Houston and they would play a major role both in representing the company across the crucial Gulf Of Mexico region and leading the initial field tests would take place; including:

  • Ensuring that the end-client is entirely happy to conduct the field tests
  • Ensuring that the tests take place as seamlessly as the company’s forged joints
  • Building and maintaining market interest in flangeless joining technology
  • Developing relationships with the end-client and with other operators that had already been identified as potential early adopters of the technology


The Outcome

We identified a total of 23 potential candidates for this position. We approached all 23 and had more detailed discussions with 12 of them. We built a shortlist of five individuals that were each interviewed by the (Houston-based) Non-Executive Director.  Four of those five had subsequent interviews with the CEO when he visited Houston, and two were subsequently interviewed by the Managing Partner of the main VC, but there was a split amongst the Board in terms of which individual should be offered the post.

The one remaining Director was invited to interview the two, and a collective decision formed to appoint one of our candidates. The alternative candidate was also deemed suitably qualified to perform in the role and he would have been appointed if our prime candidate had fallen through.

Six months after his appointment as COO, upon successful completion of the GOM field trials, our appointee was promoted to the role of CEO of the company.

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