North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

NOV-DEC 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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20 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2 018 napipelines.com Tracy Townsend (front, red jacket) stands with her strategic alliance team. The Washington Gas and NPL Construction Co. partnership has been going strong for 16 years and continues to serve as an example for the oil and gas pipeline and utility industry. bought two books on the subject," she admits. "When I read them, I thought, this is exactly how I ap- proach business." Townsend got an interview with Washington Gas. It was unlike any other interview process she had ever experienced. "It was like Thanksgiving dinner, and I was the turkey that every- one was gathered around." Within a year, Townsend had imple- mented the strategic alliance between Washington Gas and NPL. She was pro- moted to division head in 2007, assum- ing responsibility over replacement construction, marketing and business development, construction and opera- tions support, dispatch, field services and field operations. Townsend continued to climb the ladder at Washington Gas, beginning a rotational assignment in 2010 and assuming responsibility for the com- pany's focus on worker and pipeline safety, including its Distribution Integ- rity Management Program (DIMP) and compliance programs, namely pipeline compliance, damage prevention, corro- sion control and leak survey. During that same time, Townsend has served as the Washington Gas witness in legislative and regulatory proceedings in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, regarding the company's accelerated pipe replace- ment plans. Townsend was promoted to her current position as vice president of construction, compliance and safety in 2014. One of the people who was at that Thanksgiving dinner style interview was Terry McCallister, the former chair- man and CEO of Washington Gas who retired July 2018. "I met Tracy outside the company a long time ago," McCallister says. "We were looking to create a construction alliance, as opposed to just having any- old-body as a construction contractor. We were looking for a more robust part- nership. Tracy seemed to understand that well." McCallister says Townsend faced many challenges in establishing the strategic alliance program at Washing- ton Gas. "It wasn't easy. Everyone Tracy worked with thought that a contrac- tor was just a contractor. She had the people skills to get them to understand what we trying to achieve," McCallister says. "That speaks to her ability to work with people." McCallister describes Townsend as dependable and someone that others want on their team. "I have a lot of respect for what Tracy does," he says. "She sets goal and gets it done. You'll say, Tracy we need to take that hill, and Tracy takes that hill." Townsend's strengths as a com- municator and collaborator are what McCallister says make her such a strong leader. "Getting people to understand what the plan is and what the goal is and fig- uring out how to get there. It takes a whole bunch of people to make it hap- pen, and she gets people on board and gets them to truly function as a team," he says. "She's open and works really well with a team." Townsend credits McCallister for the strategic alliance concept. The idea was to collaborate to improve quality and lower costs while accomplishing capital improvement work for Wash- ington Gas. "It's a virtual organization, with partners on both sides establishing a set of goals, a business plan and outline how the work is to be done," Townsend says. "The overarching goal is to be the premier contracting relationship in the energy industry." Townsend started from scratch. "I was basically a department of one," she says. "I had no direct author- ity and no contractual signing author- ity with construction partners. It was all done through influence. In 2002, about a year after I was hired, we had the whole structure in place." Through the alliance, Townsend says Washington Gas and NPL have been able to align their resources around a specific goal to ensure safety, quality and cost effectiveness.

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