People + Places

Carol Conomos, Embracing that Extra Degree of Effort

Editor’s Note: Carol earned  both her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Engineering and Technology Management  degree from the University of Tulsa, where she currently is a member of the Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board.  She is a registered professional engineer in the state of Oklahoma,  and  sits on the Research Committee for Construction Industry Institute.

CarolConomos“At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.”– 212 Degrees, the Extra Degree [Sam Parker]

I come from a family of hard workers with entrepreneurial spirit. I learned from my father that you should never stop learning. Everyone brings value to solving a problem, regardless of their education or background. Some of the most creative, resourceful people I have come across are mechanics and other craftsmen.

I learned from my mom that support roles are just as important as leadership roles.

As director of Dresser-Rand’s High-speed Reciprocating Compressor (HSRC) business unit, my role is to lead my team and also to support them as we strive to be a global leader in high-speed reciprocating compressor and package design, technology and service.

For more than 100 years, Dresser-Rand has been a leader in energy conversion technology, designing, manufacturing and servicing a wide range of field-proven centrifugal and reciprocating compressors, gas and steam turbines, expanders, and control systems. The company has always understood the importance of leading the way with new technology and thought processes but has also understood that supporting our clients is equally important. The high-speed reciprocating compressor business is no exception.

Our industry is a great one to work in; one where our clients offer ideas to help drive our business growth and sustainability. I enjoy connecting talented people who, when brought together, can find an optimal solution for a client, whether it be a compression solution or an improved business process. There is always something new that we learn with each project. Our clients are tremendously engaged with, and supportive of, our company. They provide us with feedback on technology and infrastructure and we welcome that input and often incorporate it into our product lines and businesses. Innovations like the HOS™, HOSS™ and MOS™ compressors were developed, in part, from client input.

The MOS compressor, the most recent addition to our product line, incorporates features such as a low center of gravity for minimized vibration and cylinder families with identical external dimensions to make it easier and more cost-effective to revamp the compressor. These updates are a direct result of years of experience and client feedback on their machines operating in the field.

One of my favorite books, “212° the Extra Degree” by Sam Parker, reinforces how one extra degree of effort can accelerate results. And it’s spot on. The book reminds us that seemingly small changes or efforts can make a tremendous difference. For example, Dresser-Rand employees are often in a unique position to have visibility to multiple operations, functional departments or geographies within a client’s business. With some attention to this detail, our employees can make seemingly small relationship connections and project suggestions that may have a large impact on that client’s project results or equipment reliability, ultimately improving their competitive advantage and bottom line. At Dresser-Rand, we call this “People Power.”

I find it personally rewarding to develop and nurture business relationships that add value and result in mutual successes over the long term. I am grateful to have been mentored by some wonderful people at Dresser-Rand, who in my previous roles in Global Business Solutions and as a Key Client Manager, helped hone my strategic relationship development and management skills. It’s important that we foster relationships both inside the company and out.

On the external side, this includes clients in upstream, midstream, downstream, and power markets, including our end users, EPCs and key business partners such as authorized packagers, parts distributors, and suppliers.

Internally, my team works closely with our extended teams in our manufacturing operation in Painted Post, NY, U.S.A. and our packaging operations in Naroda, Gujarat, India. We touch nearly every aspect of the business – engineering, supply chain, research & development, quality, sales, service, applications and proposal development, finance, legal and marketing.

One of my team members, Gary Tas, drives our “line of site” program that takes direct input from our clients and uses it to make product and process improvements. As such, when clients requested a need to have standard parts delivered within 24 hours we created a new stocking program that increased our standard compressor parts inventory and shortened our cycle times. Now, for example, we can ship parts on Saturday or at 8:00 pm at night to meet 24-hour or less turn-arounds.

The Next Generation of Talent

Our workforce challenges are similar to those of our clients and suppliers: strong competition in a fast-paced global marketplace along with anticipated knowledge gaps through the next few years due to workforce demographics and retirements. These challenges, when tackled with a fresh approach, create an opportunity for sustainable business processes development. It requires rapid training and development of our next generation of talent, which is rewarding in and of itself. The mission, values and principles we instill in the next generation of talent will ensure we continue to offer strong client service.

With our future needs in mind, I have participated as a member of the Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at the University of Tulsa for a number of years, as well as having led Dresser-Rand’s recruiting efforts there for several years. I’m proud to say that we’ve hired some excellent Golden Hurricane engineers. Some are currently a part of – or graduated from – our Engineering Management Acceleration Program. Another Tulsa grad, Kyle Smith, is a key member of my team in his role as project development manager.

At Home…

I enjoy investing and I relax by landscaping and riding our tractor, rollerblading and biking. I invest much of my down time in my children’s education and wellness. I try my best to encourage my boys in their studies and help them develop healthy habits through exercise and sports. I enjoy playing sports with them, especially baseball.

I believe in working hard and being willing to accept help when you need it. In fact, these characteristics are essential to successfully lead and help others. My husband, Greg, a senior sales engineer at WEG Electric Machinery, and I do our best to instill the values of hard work, continued learning and entrepreneurship in our two young boys.

We can all make a positive difference when we choose to lead and engage others in common goals, whether big or small. To quote influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes the world come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people that have come alive.”

And sometimes, that means turning up the heat one extra degree.