Finding the Right Fit
PROVO, Utah – Aug 27, 2019 –
Nearly one hundred miles off the coast of Nigeria and five thousand feet below the ocean surface lies an abundant oil field. Working close to the equator, employees of Chevron Corporation, one of the largest oil producers in Nigeria, work in eighty-degree temperatures and twelve hours of sunlight yearlong. Behind the scenes of these offshore oil fields, BYU Marriott MBA graduate Ethan Lindstrom works with other human resource professionals at Chevron who are dedicated to helping employees do their jobs the best they can.
A career in human resources, let alone with Chevron, wasn’t even on Lindstrom’s radar ten years ago. He graduated from Utah State University in 2009 with a degree in physics then worked at Space Dynamics Laboratory in North Logan, Utah. While working at the lab, Lindstrom discovered his love for management and knew he needed to return to school to make a change in his career.
“I noticed that I was one of the few scientists in the lab who thought about how we could improve what we were doing and how we were doing it,” Lindstrom recalls. Over time, the recent physics graduate realized that while he enjoyed the technical work, he also enjoyed thinking about how the team worked together, managing the budget, interviewing, hiring, and training. “I realized that there are people who do this all the time, and that’s HR,” he says.
Lindstrom followed his passions and applied to BYU Marriott, beginning classes in fall 2013. As summer 2014 approached, he compiled a list of the top five companies he’d like to intern for—none of which were Chevron. “They weren’t on my list because I’d never considered it,” he remembers. “Growing up in Utah, I’d never thought about working for an oil and gas company.”
Lindstrom’s first introduction to Chevron came at an employer info session hosted by BYU Marriott. The Chevron representatives started the meeting by talking about the importance of safety in the workplace—something many of his peers thought was odd. As a former laboratory scientist, however, Lindstrom appreciated the emphasis on safety and knew that Chevron was going to be the right fit for him and his family.
“I liked that info session,” Lindstrom says. “Chevron is a company that handles a lot of dangerous products, yet they are so focused on safety that they even bring it up at recruiting events while talking about their culture.” He describes the experience he had with the recruiters as comfortable and accepted a summer internship with Chevron at a refinery in Richmond, California.
After completing the internship and graduating from BYU Marriott in 2015, Lindstrom accepted a full-time job offer with Chevron, where he has worked for over four years. He was hired into Chevron’s leadership development program, which includes four, six-month rotations at job sites across the globe. Lindstrom’s first three assignments were all in California, but the fourth and final job took him to Lagos, Nigeria, where he lived with his wife and three children in a secured compound with other employees of the company.
Lindstrom found the work in Nigeria to be difficult and different from the way things were typically done at his other job locations. “Making connections was key to getting work done in Nigeria,” he says. “If you don’t connect with people, they may not help you. Send someone an email, and they might not do anything, but if you go to their office and talk to them in person, they’ll probably act on it.”
Lindstrom is grateful for his experience at BYU Marriott, which taught him the importance of making connections and introduced him to a company that’s taken him across the world and back. “There’s strength in the BYU network,” he says. “I still keep in contact with friends and connections I made at BYU and in Nigeria, something I hope to maintain for a long time.”
Despite its challenges, Lindstrom’s experience in Nigeria also opened his eyes to the role human resources plays within a company. “Sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘here’s a really great program, we should do this,’” he says. “But the focus should be to narrow in on the things that are actually going to help people do their jobs better.”
Since finishing his final, six-month rotation in Nigeria, Lindstrom and his family have settled down in Houston, Texas, where he now works as a compensation analyst at Chevron. Remembering the experiences he had in Nigeria, Lindstrom spends a lot of his time looking at data and thinking about how he can help other employees. “I'm constantly trying to think of ways to make life easier for the people on the other end who are out doing the work.
“I’m grateful for my experiences at Chevron and BYU Marriott that have stretched me and helped me get out of my comfort zone,” Lindstrom says. “I’ve learned the importance of making connections with people and helping them in ways that are meaningful to them.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Paul Swenson