Interview with Austin Wilson, Energy Practice Tech Lead at WebCreek
One of the strategies that has placed WebCreek as a leader in the Nearshoring business is its formation of global, diverse, and multicultural teams. I’ve further noticed, in the most recent interviews I’ve held with the company’s talent, a particular trend shared by various members who have held similar positions previous to taking a step towards the digital world: they are people who have worked in the wide-open spaces. And in this interview that I’ve just completed with another of the company’s talents in The Woodlands, this pattern is confirmed, along with other interesting topics about maturity and learning. Come with me to meet Austin Wilson, Energy Practice Technical Lead at WebCreek.
Rafa: Welcome to this interview series about WebCreek’s talent. I’m Rafa Ríos from the Creative Team here in Mexico City. Welcome.
Austin Wilson: Thanks, yes, it’s a pleasure to talk with you.
Rafa: Very good. Let’s see: I’ve prepared a few questions. This is a quick interview, really. So, let me put it on the screen… give me a second… good. First question: What and how did you start your career at WebCreek?
Austin Wilson: I heard about WebCreek through certain contacts and their work with petroleum companies. It seemed like a great opportunity since I already had experience working for the oil and gas industry. This industry has its ups and downs, and I was just getting ready to make a transition in my career towards software development. So, I saw an opportunity in WebCreek to get to know the latest technology as it applies to this area, and take the advantage to put into practice all that I’d learned. I had an interview with the CEO, Jason Bott, and there was a project that needed a technical leader. So he contacted me and I worked on that project. In that position, I had the chance to combine my experience in this area with my technical knowledge, which suited me to a tee.
Rafa: Mmhmmm. You’re from Texas, right?
Austin Wilson: Yes, I’m from the east of Texas; you can note a small twang in my voice. (Smile)
Rafa: (Laughs) Right, umm, second question. How do you combine your profiles as a Petroleum Engineer and a Software Developer in your current position within the company?
Austin Wilson: In the middle of last year, we started working with one of the energy industry’s biggest businesses, on a directional drilling project. This was exactly the kind of application and interest that pushed me towards software development in the first place. I guess that my field experience and everything related to drilling had its advantages. I anticipated the client’s necessities in the design, in order to provide a good user experience and detail how to work with each of the team members; and, of course, in order to hand them a great product. That turned into the perfect role for me. Solidifying these kinds of relationships with companies like WebCreek is something that really suits me well.
Rafa: Understood. Tell me more about your experience as an MWD (Measurement-While-Drilling) Field Engineer. What did you learn in this phase of your life?
Austin Wilson: Being an MWD Field Engineer is hard work. I was working from remote locations all over the United States. Once I drove 27 hours in North Dakota. We were working at a place really far away, with a rough climate—seriously, super cold. Honestly, I think that I learned to work long shifts, something like 30 days in a row, 12-hour days, far from family. And truthfully, after that, you’re thankful for an 8am-5pm job, which allows you to return home to your family. I have two young kids now. More than anything, being a MWD Field Engineer helped me to grow, to grow and mature a little more. I was a bit immature when I started, and I finished as a different person. And it was really a great experience in the field. I think that I needed it in order to learn how to work hard. I think that that was what made me decide to step away from that, more than anything else.
Rafa: Got it. And speaking of which, how did you make the switch in your interests towards software development, after working in the energy sector?
Austin Wilson: Well, part of it happened in 2015, when the petroleum industry went through a really rough spell. Barrels went from costing $140 to $40, or something like that. You know, all the industry’s jobs plummeted—diggers, engineers—all went downhill. And that started my transition to software development. I had already started doing Macros in Excel and knew basic programming. So I set out to teach myself, watch videos, and learn on my own. I went to boot camps to learn all I could and enter the game. I eventually got a job opportunity, and I really loved making this change, finding solutions to problems through software development.
Austin Wilson: Another interesting aspect of my transition is that I was even a calculus teacher before working in the MWD field. After finishing my degree in petroleum engineering, I taught high school calculus, pre-calculus, and algebra for a few years. I believe it was definitely a significant phase, and that I’m a teacher at heart. Jeanette Cantu, our VP of Business Development, made me realize this. She mentioned that, when I explain something, I really put myself into it because I’m well understood. And I do it patiently. I suppose that I’m still carrying my inner teacher.
Rafa: Ah look, that’s good. Now, from your perspective, what do you believe is the value of having a team specifically dedicated to clients in the energy sector?
Austin: I consider it invaluable. As you know, together with Anelisse Chanakos, our Energy Sector Project Manager at WebCreek, we both have substantial experience in fieldwork. When we talk with clients, they are very satisfied knowing that they’re communicating with a team that understands their business. As such, combining our knowledge, we’re more than just simple workers in the extraction industry. And when we work with these clients, we know exactly what they’re talking about and the software involved with their needs. We also have this advantage over our competitors; that’s something that really sets us apart.
Rafa: They told me that you like basketball, correct?
Austin: I like all sports; basketball might be my second favorite. Football is my favorite, American football.
Rafa: Okay, keeping that in mind, what position or strategy in American football would you relate with what you do at WebCreek?
Austin: Mmm, I would definitely say that I play the position of quarterback.
Rafa: Haha. And why this position in particular?
Austin: Well, because in this position, you can watch everything that happens and plan your moves. You create strategies; it’s more of a position where you plan the game. I think that I’m now at a different level: I plan more moves on the whiteboard, a ton of planning, thinking about a lot of things. I would even like to be a coach, like when I was teaching. You asked about a position, which is why I said quarterback; it’s really the closest position to being a coach.
Rafa: Right, very good. Well, those were the questions that I had prepared for you. Thanks very much for your time. Anything else that you want to say in particular?
Austin: No, nothing in particular. I’ve very happy here. I believe that we are starting to get on a role. I’m very pleased with Jeanette and Anelisse, who are the new collaborators here in Houston. I think that we have great things ahead.
That’s how my chat ended with this interesting and calculating talent at WebCreek. It was stimulating to know that many of the company’s team members know how to teach. Like the coaches in any sport, they plan strategies. Through their skill, they find victory for the most demanding clients, who need the experience and knowledge that only hard fieldwork can provide. Thankfully, WebCreek features hands that carry both that experience and the digital solutions that we develop with energy and vitality.