Derek Maxwell – Success Study
Senior Manager of Engineering and Supply Chain
Derek Maxwell was global technical support manager of electrical, mechanical, marine and drilling systems for an industry-leading, offshore drilling company.
Energy, Oil and Gas, E-Commerce, Retail, Supply Chain
When the pandemic roiled the industry where he’d spent 30 years and cast his company into bankruptcy, Derek was laid off with little prospect of finding similar work.
Technical, Maintenance, Systems, Process, and Quality Engineering; Management; Training
Self-reflection prompted Derek to consider different industries and to build out his social capital.
Derek landed as senior manager of engineering and supply chain and site manager for a distribution center of a multinational retail corporation.
As the global manager of technical support for an industry-leading, offshore, deep-water, drilling company, Derek Maxwell oversaw all the maintenance engineering projects for seven drill ships. His responsibilities included maintenance of the drill ships’ electrical, mechanical, and marine and drilling systems, as well as offshore personnel training. His career in the drilling industry spanned 30 years and multiple countries, ranging from his native Scotland to his current home in Houston, Texas. He felt lucky to have never faced significant unemployment in all that time. But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Derek’s luck ran out.
“My company got hit hard by Covid and went bankrupt. It was acquired by another company and after a six-month transition, they laid off most of my team and me,” said Derek.
Derek took two months for himself before launching a job search. When he finally did, he found the job search to be intolerable.
“It was very difficult,” said Derek. “I redid my resume and prepared a cover letter. I tried LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter. I reached out to people I knew in my industry, but they were in a similar situation. The industry was having such a terrible time. There were no contracts being awarded, no new work going on. People in my network were focused on keeping their own jobs and couldn’t help me in my job search.”
After four months of job searching with few results, Derek hired The Barrett Group (TBG).
“What I liked about The Barrett Group is that it focused on a lifestyle change versus a job change,” said Derek. “The Barrett Group program begins with a self-evaluation. You work on yourself first before going out into the job market.”
It was a great change for Derek because the status quo was no longer an option.
“Initially, I thought I would stay in the same industry, but it became quite evident that the industry would not improve for a couple years,” said Derek.
Derek derived enormous value from the Clarity Program and the self-reflection he was encouraged to do.
“I really like the Clarity Program and my Clarity coach, Scott Brown. He is very good at what he does,” said Derek. “He got me to look internally. He got me to consider the social and financial parts of my life, my goals past and present, and where I see myself in the future. He made me think more than I’ve ever done in other similar courses. To be honest, it’s probably one of the most valuable things I’ve done in a long, long time.”
Derek had typically attended to business first in his work and social niceties second. In Clarity, however, he came to see things differently.
“Scott taught me to better balance my desire to get on with work and important social skills. I realized that it is more advantageous to your business if you first take the time to ask someone ‘How are you? How’s the family? Can I help you in any way?’ Even better is when you allow yourself to enjoy that conversation rather than doing it as a perfunctory exercise.” said Derek. “Think of a garden. You’ll get much better results when you prepare and plow your field before sowing your seeds than just walking across a field chucking seeds around.”
In the next phase of the TBG program, Derek worked with his career consultant to build social capital beyond his contacts in the oil and gas industry.
“In my discussions with Barbara Limmer, I realized it was not sensible to be narrowly focused. I would have to get out of my comfort zone. At first, I thought I’d target chemical plants – I live near a lot of them. But Barbara encouraged me to think of other industries where my skills would transfer, too. With that perspective, I could pursue a job in any industry in the engineering world, or any company with manufacturing processes,” said Derek. “My one restriction is that I was unwilling to move from Houston because my wife has a high-level job there.”
With the help of the TBG team, Derek overhauled his resume and produced several versions that he could use in different circumstances. Barbara taught him to do advanced searches on LinkedIn and play around with search terms. Then he got busy reaching out to friends, family, and business contacts. It wasn’t easy at first, but it turned out to be the key to his success.
Two weeks after reconnecting with an old friend on LinkedIn, an article popped up on his LinkedIn feed that Derek’s friend had ‘Liked’. The article highlighted some impressive aspects of the multinational retailer where his friend worked. After Derek read it, LinkedIn’s algorithm began ‘feeding him’ more content about the same company – including a job ad for a role of senior manager of maintenance and supply chain operations. Intrigued, he applied.
After two interviews, Derek was told that he was overqualified for the role – but then he was invited to apply for a more senior role.
“The role was for senior manager in engineering and site engineer for a distribution center in Houston with 5 million square feet and over 2,000 workers. After another three interviews, a site visit, and a discussion with the senior VP, they gave me an offer.”
Derek credits Barbara with prepping him well for those interviews and TBG’s compensation negotiation reading materials.
“Barbara and I reviewed interview techniques and how to ask for the best possible offer. I ended up negotiating a better base rate, a signing bonus, and more PTO. It was a bit nerve-wracking, of course, but I felt comfortable using the language from the TBG worksheets. I used them almost word for word.”
The process and quality engineering at his new company are very different from what Derek has done before, but after several weeks of training, he was ready to start his new role.
“I was about one and a half steps outside my comfort zone, so I had to push myself. But I feel really confident now. They said they’d see what I can do in this position over the next year. If all goes well, they will have me take over for the general manager.”
Derek is delighted with his new career path. His new worksite is closer to his home than he’s ever been, and he’s very pleased with how nice and helpful the people and leadership team are at his new organization. He is also now a true believer in the benefits of social capital.
“I did not find this job opportunity through social capital directly, but I did indirectly. I never would have seen the recruitment ad from my new company if I hadn’t reached out to my contact two weeks earlier. This opportunity didn’t match my LinkedIn search terms. I found it to be quite astonishing that social capital works!”