Q & A with Shareholder Employees
Anchorage, AK December 15, 2015
A Conversation with Brad Osborne, President of NANA Oilfield Services (NOSI)
This is part of a series of interviews with NANA’s shareholder-employees.
Brad Osborne, a NANA shareholder, is the president of NANA Oilfield Services. His very first job was cleaning offices at NANA’s original Anchorage office location.
What is your Iñupiaq name?
Kuuġnaaluk. My aana (grandmother), Evelyn Conwell, named me after her brother, Walter Reich from Kotzebue. Don Sheldon told me the name means smelly fish, but he said that’s a good thing.
What is your position?
I’m the president of NANA Oilfield Services (NOSI), but I also provide operational support to NDC’s Chief Operating Officer, Dave Márquez.
How many years have you been with NANA?
15 years, the last four as president of NOSI.
Have you had other jobs within NANA?
As a kid, my very first job was cleaning offices at the old NANA building on Harding Drive (near the current NOSI office in Anchorage).
Fast forward a few years, I was an intern studying accounting at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I worked part-time at NANA during the school year and full-time over school breaks.
I’ve been fortunate to have several different opportunities at NANA: in accounting, IT, finance, and strategy. In accounting, I was the division controller. I managed our IT team. Our team implemented Costpoint, accounting software that helps us stay in compliance with our contracts. In finance, I focused on investments. I was a due diligence analyst, studying acquisitions. In strategy, I analyzed financial information and economic trends.
After four years of analyzing operating companies, I was appointed president of NOSI.
What are your main job responsibilities?
As president, I’m responsible for helping set NOSI’s strategy, with two key areas in mind: profitability and shareholder hire. I work closely with the NOSI board of directors and NDC’s leadership team to outline the business objectives. Then I work with the NOSI team to carry out that plan. We’re fortunate at NOSI to have employment opportunities for shareholders. We have between 40-60 employees, and a steady half of our workforce are shareholders.
I also represent NOSI and NANA in professional organizations such as the Alaska Support Industry Alliance and the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.
What does NOSI do?
NOSI delivers fuel and drinking water on the North Slope and at Red Dog Mine.
On the Slope, we operate 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s not easy work, but it’s critical to our customers. We have to overcome several challenges in delivering our products, like distance (on isolated roads), weather (sometimes 40 below), and heated storage.
Up in Deadhorse, we built a tank farm (a fuel storage facility) to have fuel on hand for the busy drilling season—from January through April. We also built a six-bay operations center to store our vehicles.
In summer, the Red Dog port site is free of ice, so we deliver enough fuel by barge to last through the winter.
Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
My mom, Marie (Conwell) Osborne, is from Kotzebue. My dad, Terry Osborne, was stationed at the Kotzebue Air Force (radar) station when he met my mom.
I grew up all over—in Florida, Texas, Belgium, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. When my Dad retired from the service, we moved to Valdez, where I went to high school.
What is your first memory of NANA?
I remember wondering, “What is this NANA that my aana (grandmother) is always talking about?” I could tell NANA was important to her—and to my family—but I didn’t know why yet.
Later, my mom worked for NANA in the old Harding building in Anchorage, where my older brother Steve and I were janitors. With the money I saved, I remember buying a bowling ball and a bike.
Who has inspired you?
My family. My mom always offered wise advice. My dad worked hard at everything he did—from his military service, to his post-military career, to raising a family. He’s been an amazing role model, even in basketball. (Basketball runs in the family.)
My wife, Melanie, urged me to chart my course. Melanie and I started dating when we were still in high school. At 14, she knew what she wanted to be, an attorney, and she set a path to reach that goal. I learned by trying out different things—seeing what I liked and what I didn’t. When we were first married and starting a family, I had a good job at Fred Meyer (a superstore). I was on the management path, but I realized that, while I liked the job, I didn’t like the industry (frontline retail). So, I tried something else, until I found the right fit.
Tell us about someone who has inspired you at NANA.
Over 15 years of working with a talented bunch, it’s hard to name just one person. I’ve been inspired by Bob Cronen’s diligence, by Stan Fleming’s communications with a team, and by Helvi Sandvik’s professionalism—and by her responsibility and dedication to NANA. Through their examples, they each have shown me what can be done with the right focus.
What has surprised you most about working at NANA?
NANA has incorporated Iñupiaq values into how it conducts its business every day. Our values are so deep-rooted: respect, honesty, fulfillment of commitments, cooperation, and the importance of family.
What is the best thing that has happened since you started working with NANA?
It took me several years to realize that this is where I belong. NANA is important to me, to my family, and to so many other families. This realization helped shape how I approach the work I do for NANA.
What are important lessons that you have learned?
As a shareholder working for NANA, I’ve learned that we have a special responsibility. We are family. I’ve learned to introduce myself (to shareholders and to the board) as the grandson of Evelyn Reich Conwell and the son of Marie Conwell Osborne, so they know who I am and where I’m from. My aana and mom taught me to learn by watching and listening, which has helped me at NANA.
I’ve learned it’s good to be out of your comfort zone. It means you’re growing. Also, it’s important to remain positive, especially when facing setbacks.
What do you like best about your job?
I like the people. I’m very much a team person. I was raised in a sports family. Sports teaches you to value the contributions of others. As part of a team facing opportunities and challenges, it’s important to communicate well. In business and in sports there are wins and losses. I certainly want to win more than lose, but we always have to be prepared for both.
What do you hope to achieve?
In my professional life, I want help NANA be successful over the long term.
John Rense and Joe Mathis are examples of employees who have had long careers with NANA and whose hearts and souls are here. They responded to what was needed, they’ve moved within the company. I want to serve NANA in that way.
In my personal life, I’d like to look back one day and feel like I’ve been a good father, husband, son, and brother. Family is certainly the most important thing to me, but I’ve learned you can balance family, career, and volunteer commitments. I want to make a positive contribution to our community.
What advice do you have for young shareholders?
If you want professional success, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. NANA wants to open doors for shareholders and we want shareholders to be successful, but an open door is just a beginning. You need to work really hard if you want more opportunities.
Early in my career, I was in the office most days by 5 a.m., and some days I would start work as early as 3 a.m. It was important for me to be home with my kids in the evenings, so I planned ahead and added hours to the front of my day. These days, I’m normally at work by 6 or 6:30 a.m. There is no substitute for putting in the time, to get good at your craft and to gain the trust and respect of people around you.
Putting in the time not only makes you better at what you’re doing, but people around you will have faith in you and you’ll be given more opportunities.
What do you want people to know about NANA?
When I started with NANA we had $200 million in revenue, a handful of operating companies, and about 500 employees. We were one NANA. NANA has grown and matured in so many ways over these past 15 years.
There have been bumps along the way, but we are still one NANA. Our customers don’t say they’re buying fuel from NOSI; they’re doing business with NANA. We’re one family, and I like being part of the NANA family.
Brad Osborne was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.