Working and Living in the Bakken

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ONEOK Rockies Midstream Vice President Craig Forsander shares his insights on living and working in the Bakken.

What do you enjoy about working at ONEOK?

I've been with ONEOK for 17 years. At the top of the list of reasons I enjoy about working for ONEOK are the people, the culture and the collaborative nature and relative autonomy of our working environment. All workplaces have their challenges. Because of the turmoil in this industry during the 1990’s, I worked for a number of employers. While not perfect, ONEOK is hands down the best company I’ve ever worked for.

Describe the culture.

If I had to pick one word to describe our culture, I would say “caring” – caring about each other, caring about family, caring about doing the right thing, and caring about doing things the right way. I have had the great opportunity to travel and work with employees across most of the ONEOK Partners footprint. I never get a sense that the culture of caring is not present within any of the corners of our organization. It is very apparent to me that the culture of caring exists within our Bakken organization. To me, this is the single greatest attribute of our ONEOK family.

What’s the one thing about the working environment at ONEOK that’s special? 

Collaboration. What I experience at ONEOK, and what so many others who’ve worked at other companies have said they experience, indicates the differentiator is collaboration. None of the companies I worked for previously come close to the level of collaboration that exists at ONEOK. We have a very active Diversity and Inclusion effort underway now. I believe inclusion comes more naturally to ONEOK because of the company’s collaborative nature. We have much work to do on that front, but we have an excellent running start so far.

How do you like living in Sidney and why? 

I have been living in Sidney, Montana, now for three years after spending 14 years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I love Sidney. It is quite the change from Tulsa, and the differences require adaptation. To me, Sidney exemplifies small- town America, with the elements of family, friendliness and a slower pace of life. The Bakken boom has certainly impacted Sidney, but to a lesser degree than some neighboring North Dakota communities. Residents here have done a great job of adjusting to the boom, solving issues presented by the growth and making these good communities in which to live and raise a family.

Does ONEOK’s presence makes your city a better place to live? 

We’ve made great progress recently with our community involvement efforts. Our employees have always done a good job, but often were fatigued by the elements of the boom that drove long working hours and resulting sacrifices on the home front. In 2016, we gained substantial momentum with a newly established community relations coordinator in Sidney and Community Investments Committee. We filled many key roles in our organization and our attrition rate dropped significantly. These organizational changes drive stability and enhance the community involvement of our employees. Today, we are seeing the benefits as employees make western North Dakota and eastern Montana their home and become active members of their communities, making them good places to live.

What advice do you have for someone interested in working in the Bakken?

I would tell them to do all they can to fully evaluate the area and get a good feel for it. You must be fully committed to the work, the community, the geography and climate here for it to be a good experience. I would tell them the opportunities remain outstanding here. There are no better learning opportunities in this industry than in the Bakken.  Employees here have done phenomenal work for the company and have overcome many personal challenges to be here. We have evolved considerably over the last several years and today I would proudly match our employee and asset base against any in this industry for quality, capability, execution and work family.