Editor’s Note: Doug holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, USA. Born and raised in Upstate New York, Doug now resides in Houston, Texas.
We spent some time talking with Doug Petrie, a 40-year veteran in turbomachinery sales and management, who was tapped nearly two years ago to lead the Dresser-Rand business’ Pipeline Business Development team.
insights: How did you end up selling capital equipment in the oil and gas industry?
DP: Once I realized I was never going to play second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I got into sales. It goes back to the Oracle of Delphi of Ancient Greece who laid the foundation for western culture: Know Thyself. I like people and enjoy building a rapport with others, so technical sales was a good fit for me. People buy from people they like, right? Clients listen to people they like and take their advice. My engineering background honed my skills in identifying and understanding clients’ needs and equipped me to find solutions that met their needs.
insights: You mentioned that you like to mentor young people. What advice would you give newcomers to this business?
DP: I’ve been lucky to have many great mentors and role models over the years. Early in my career, I worked for Jim Bryan, VP of Sales at Dresser Clark. He was consistent and had great integrity. In fact, someone once referred to Jim as “the conscience of the company.” He taught me to focus on the things I can change and don’t complain about things that I can’t change. I think that is great advice that goes for many things in life. For instance, we can’t control the current market dynamics or the timing of a recovery, but we can certainly prepare for it.
My second piece of advice is to listen – really listen. You need to know what’s important to your clients and give them a chance to explain what they are trying to achieve. That’s how you build trust.
insights: You said that one of the best books you read recently was The Martian. Why is it a favorite?
DP: By nature, we engineers are solutions-driven creatures known for our precision. As an engineer, the problem-solving angle in The Martian is fascinating. In addition to being an overall great story, it describes very well how engineers think. We assess our resources, perform calculations and look at all of the angles to solve a problem. The interaction between the teams is an inspiring example of working together to solve tough problems.
insights: How is this business different today than it was 30 or 40 years ago?
DP: Risk mitigation and legal governance are integral in the proposal and selling process because clients are more adamant about putting project and legal risk onto suppliers. Siemens has robust processes in place for risk mitigation and legal compliance and the sales teams need to learn these to be effective. Another change is the emphasis on account management. Teams of people interact with clients on many levels across the Siemens enterprise and we need great internal communication to make each client’s experience as seamless and transparent as possible.
insights: How is the midstream market doing in current market conditions?
DP: Worldwide, the abundance of natural gas is creating a shift from oil and coal to gas especially for power generation – gas to power. Clients in the midstream sector provide the infrastructure – mostly pipelines – to get the gas from the wellhead to consumers, whether that’s in our homes, power plants, refineries, or LNG terminals. And while LNG terminals are a different focus market, someone has to get the gas to the facilities. The shale gas revolution has created demand for new infrastructure to process and transport the liquids and gas and Siemens is well positioned to participate in the entire value chain.
insights: What does the Dresser-Rand business bring to the table regarding pipeline solutions?
DP: Dresser-Rand, Siemens and Rolls-Royce Energy have provided pipeline compressors for as long as there has been a gas transmission industry. However, the pipeline market has historically posed challenges for all of us because of deeply entrenched competitors. Acquiring the aeroderivative products from Rolls-Royce Energy helped with products and relationships. The Dresser-Rand business has some success with motor-driven units and has a vast installed fleet of reciprocating and centrifugal compressors.
We have so many options to maximize safety, increase performance and availability, cut emissions, and extend the life of our clients’ pipeline equipment. These upgrades and modernizations are available for virtually any brand of equipment, and it’s my team’s job to educate our clients on their options. And we support the installed base of compressors and turbines – ours and other manufacturers’ – with replacement parts, field services, technical services, O&M, and reliability and maintenance improvement. The Siemens service center network and personnel are tremendous assets in the pipeline market.
insights: What do you do for fun?
DP: About 10 years ago, I pulled my guitar out of the attic. For the past three years, I’ve been jamming with – and in – Joel’s Garage. The name came about because five of us practice in Joel’s garage. Three band members are Siemens colleagues – Joel Schubert, Gerry Dillemuth and Eric Podmeyer. We played at the last two hospitality events at the Annual Turbomachinery & Pump Symposium in Houston. This past December, we were playing Christmas songs at a backyard party and the neighborhood Constable shut us down at 8 PM for being too loud! I also enjoy traveling. I’ve always enjoyed traveling for work and my wife and I now spend a large part of our spare time traveling for fun.
insights: Tell us about your experience before joining Siemens.
DP: After completing a training program as a field application engineer for Dresser Industries in Olean, NY, I took a position as an inside salesman for the Dresser Clark Division and supported six highly experienced sales professionals in the Houston, TX office. Following this, I spent a combined 23 years with two leading turbomachinery manufacturers where I secured multiple orders for large gas turbines, centrifugal and reciprocating compressors from large upstream, midstream and downstream companies. I managed project teams, led P&Ls and strategic business units, led sales integrations, and held P&L responsibility for Oil & Gas services in North America.
insights: Tell us about your journey with Siemens.
DP: Expertise is well-respected within Siemens. In 2011, I joined Siemens as Director of Compression Sales and was responsible for compressor and mechanical drive turbines sales for the Americas. At that point in my career, this was my dream job. In 2013, my responsibilities expanded to include client services for the Americas. We made good headway in sales and I was proud of what our team accomplished. There is tremendous satisfaction in winning projects and seeing the direct impact of your work.
When Siemens and Dresser-Rand combined forces in 2015, we knew we had an even stronger team here in the Americas. We received several large orders that year. I was fortunate to be part of the growth platforms and commercial lead for various oil and gas activities in North America and we worked closely with Corporate Account Managers, Power System Sales and the Oil & Gas Solutions team.
insights: Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
DP: I have been married for 37 years and we have two grown daughters and a granddaughter. When you have young children, family time is so important, but you also need to invest time at work building your career. It’s a delicate balance that can take some years to perfect.
Today, my daughters say I’m “big and easy.”