Carin Meyer, Regulatory Specialist for Atmos International

This is a new role within Atmos. Why do you think it is so important for Atmos to support the customer with a regulation compliance program now?

Many customers face significant challenges when trying to interpret regulations. The regulations tell you what they want, but don’t always tell you how to get there. The high-profile ones right now are API 1175 and API 1130 which are in the process of being evaluated again. This means the goalposts can constantly be changing. One of my challenges as a customer was trying to get all of that information and documentation for audits. It’s always a little subjective too, depending on the auditor. Atmos has a lot of this information within its systems that could help the end-user. We’re going to explore how we could automate this to make it easier for our customers and the auditors too. We’ll also liaise with auditors to ensure the output is in the right format for them as well.

I’ve been through so many audits and this approach will not only provide accurate information but speed up the process too.

API is well regarded because it’s written by industry experts and leaders which ensures it's respected by pipeline owners and operators, as well as the authorities. It’s providing a benchmark and process for other countries too, which is why I think API stands up well.

I’ve been teaching SCADA and leak detection at University level for some time and while SCADA hasn’t changed in the 70 years or so since it was developed, the platforms which stand on it have. API provides some clarity and provides some balance in terms of what State laws put in place too.  I’m reading the latest regulation changes and advisories currently. Once we are up to speed, I’m looking forward to reviewing the regional difference here in the US and then helping Ryan up in Canada and beyond. We can be that helping hand to our customers, which I know is how Atmos has always been.

You used to be a customer of Atmos, can you tell me a bit about your experience before joining Atmos?

I've had an interesting journey. I’m actually from San Diego, California and I'm a Navy brat. I went to high school out there and I got a job straight from school. I was bored at school so I got permission from the Principal to go to college at night when I was 14. After graduating with honors at the high school, I wanted more, so I ended up getting a job at the school district as a student worker for minimum wage in the accounting office. I did that just for two or three hours after school every day. I enjoyed it and I had a good eye for patterns (this was the days before Excel spreadsheets).

My parents moved to Colorado when I was a senior and I didn't want to move, so the school district said, okay, we’ll promote you to full-time after high school. I ended up making a career there as I got promoted three or four times over the 10 years I was there. I saw this as my life and I was working across the Californian school districts, but I ended up moving to Colorado because I just was like, okay, I've been here, I got it out of my system, you know, I'm gonna go and be with my family. I got a job at the Air Force Academy School District, doing the same type of thing. And they implemented Oracle Financials.  This was back in 1998 when email use was growing along with the internet and we implemented an Oracle financial system with a GUI. I think it was one of the first GUI systems integrated systems in the financial world. Oracle said they liked my way of thinking and asked me to go and join them. It felt like the big time. It was a real big change coming from the public education system into the commercial sector. It wasn’t long before I got a call from my former employees at Oracle suggesting that I try for a job with BP. Despite having no experience in the oil and gas sector, they liked what they saw and I was lucky enough to get my start in the industry that I can now call my career for the past 15 years. It while at BP that I got to know Atmos. I got to do some great learning at BP. I did some great learning at BP before I returned home to be with family in Denver.

What do you admire about Atmos?

When I started 15 years ago, Atmos was beginning to develop in the US. I got on well with several people including Michael Twomey and Brian Ritschel. What I liked about Atmos beside the product and how well it worked, was that if you asked a question you got an answer straight away. The customer service was off the chart and unlike anything I’d experienced before. I guess it was the family concept I liked a lot. It was the dedication, the humility, and the continuous improvement that I liked and it wasn’t us and them experience. They just had that edge and caught leaks that would have perhaps been missed. Every time Atmos went up against the competition they had the full package and commissioning was better than the others. Which was why I’d always bring them in to bid for work.

What do you love about the industry?

I feel like I'm making a good difference, you know. I love the details and helping people.

What three words describe your role?

Support. Customer. Needs.

I love to help people out and give back. The industry is changing but when I started 15 years ago some old-timers didn’t want to share with me. So, I’ve always been of the mindset that if I can help you, I will.  

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry and how can Atmos support?

Well, I think AI is going to be a big player for sure. I know we are looking at ways we can provide the right kind of information and automate more and more of the process. We know that operators need that support and we can support it. I also think gas will be something that everyone’s looking at. There’s going to be a lot of tightening up on gas pipelines from a regulatory point of view but also protection through leak detection systems.  I love the fact that Atmos is already on top of it. Atmos is always good at jumping in on things and being forward-thinking, that is just amazing.

Who would you choose as a mentor?

This is interesting because I have someone that I call Uncle Al who I’ve known since I got into the industry. I’ll brainstorm with him and he's a mentor in some ways, but I think in the bigger picture I got to where I am today because of two ladies.

They have different personalities but taught me or showed me the same things. Teresa Liles was my manager at Oracle, so when I first came out of public education and got my first non-government job, she taught me a lot of things on how to treat people. She kept promoting me because she saw something in me when I would never have applied for these jobs as I didn’t feel ready. The other lady is Leanne Meyer who was my VP at Mark West and she did the same thing (we're not related by the way!). When the Atmos role came up, Leanne threatened to come and hurt me if I didn’t take it!

I also think my Dad indirectly. He was a Senior Master Chief when he retired after 22 years in the Navy. He still does a lot of stuff for Flag Day and is very active. I think he taught me my work ethic. I didn’t know what he did because he always said he did work for the government and that was about it. I guess I kind of knew it something to do with telecommunications and high security because he traveled the world. The strange thing is that we’ve done very similar roles at times. And while the language is very different, I could talk things through with him.

If you could go back to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?

Believe it or not, I honestly thought I was going to study law. I got frustrated because they made me take all these criminal law classes and I had to go sit on a 911 panel in and go on criminal stuff. I got so frustrated with the criminal law that I was like, I will never sleep, this is going to irritate me. So, I changed my path. I didn't have a plan as such. I knew I wanted to study and I had a good job. And I honestly thought I was going to be in public education because I thought fund accounting a little bit different than private accounting. That's why it was amazing that these women came into my life at that time and kind of challenged me and did this and look where it's brought me. I guess my feedback would be to keep your options open and welcome advice from others.

What is on your wish list for the next five years?

When I saw this question, I was having a tough time with it. I just want to continue sharing and teaching. I love learning, you know, I just want to continue in whatever form or fashion I can. I love to educate, as well as learning and just making things better.

What’s your motto or mantra?

Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. I have my moments as everybody does, but I do believe in a positive mindset.

Do you have a favorite blog, a newspaper or a media title you go to?

Well, I read a lot. I have my office bookshelves segmented into three distinct themes. On one, I have books on alternative medicine. A few are centered around a concept called ‘raindrop’ which I’ve learned to do so I could treat animals. I have a few fur babies!  On the next, I have lots of self-help books. I find the mind and psychology fascinating.  The final bookcase is all my technical books

On the digital front, I’m more into podcasts. I started a blog that I've never published and I paid for the renewal yesterday, which made me think of it when you ask that question!

I am in a podcast group! There are about four of us ladies and we pick a different podcast a bit like a book club. We then get together and talk about the podcast and give our views. We rotate as everybody has a different flavor of what they like. Some of them are tough to get through, but I have respect for the person that picked it.

As a regular traveler, what’s your favorite country?

I haven't been over the pond yet. I hope I’ll get there to Atmos HQ once the travel restriction is lifted. Although I've been to 47 of the 50 US states, I'm missing two that are so close to me. One of them happens to be in North Dakota and my new colleague Jody keeps telling me I have to and meet him. In terms of my bucket list, I want to go to Ireland and Germany – well all of Europe! I'm the third generation from Germany so I figure it would be great to see where I come from!

Categories: Employee spotlight

By: Will Stone
Date: 30 June 2020