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All weekend has been another major exercise in packing, for this morning, shortly, I’ll be on the road for a very long drive…I’m off to build a natural gas plant.  It will be a novel experience; I’ve never built one before.  When I say I will “build a natural gas plant” I don’t mean that I will literally build the plant.  What I mean is that I will be a part of the construction management team that supervises its construction…specifically, I will set up and supervise the project controls part.  I’m a both excited and apprehensive.

 

I’m excited because after a slew of carefully picked short term local assignments here in Houston this project has the potential, though certainly not the certainty, to be a bit more long term.  I’m also excited because I’ll be on-site and it’s a greenfield project.  A greenfield project is one that is built independently and from the ground up.  I’ve always enjoyed being involved in projects that start with a piece of undeveloped land full of weeds, shrubs, or trees and ends in an industrial complex.  Being on-site is always much more fun than being stuck in the engineering office and all of the pretentiousness that goes along with that.  Construction sites are laid back and informal…I like that.

I’m apprehensive because for the first time in many, many years the firm I’ll work for, though by all accounts is more than capable, is not a leader in the industry, nor is their client (the people who will own the plant once it’s built).  The fact is that I’d never even heard of them until they called.  I’m also a bit anxious because of every position I’ve ever had, I know the very least about this project.  The interview for the position was quite short.  The interview came out of the blue and consisted of the hiring engineer telling me I was recommended by a previous employer, they were building a natural gas plant in Bumfuck, USA, their current project controls lead was not getting the job done (he was fired last Friday), and would I consider taking on the project.  I said “yes”, we agreed upon my compensation, he said their human resource department would be in contact, he thanked me, and the interview ended.  Just like that.  And, I do mean just like that.  The entire hiring process, from start to finish, took less than ten minutes.  I didn’t get the opportunity to ask specific questions.

I am (and have been for many years) at the stage of my career that even knowing almost nothing about the project…it really doesn’t matter.  There is nothing any project can throw at me that I’m not more than positive I can handle.  I’ve been doing what I do for over thirty-five years.  On the other hand, there is always the uncertainty as to the people one works with.  Generally, project people are good people…but not always.  And, then there is the test.  On any new project, where most of the people who are there already know each other and have worked together, along comes moi and some yahoo feels it’s their place to test the newbie.  It’s just the way men are, and it’s always a man who does it…someone always feels they have to put the new chick in her place.  It also never works out for them…ever.  I know what I’m doing.  And, because I generally have more construction management experience than the yahoo does, I know as much or more about their job and how it should be done than they do.  Nonetheless, there always comes a point on a new assignment when someone pushes and I have to push back.        

So, this morning bright and early, after kissing my husband goodbye, I’ll head off to Bumfuck, USA, rent a hotel room, and spend all day tomorrow looking for a more permanent place to live before starting work on Wednesday.  It will be a grind…it’s a six-day, ten hours per day work week project.

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