Good ethics make good business
“There is a correlation – a sweet spot, if you will – between business ethics and business success,” said Garland to students, faculty and alumni at the University of Houston recently. He made the remarks as part of the UH business school’s Distinguished Leaders Series of speakers. “In our company, if we have an asset running safely and efficiently, with respect for the community and the people who work there, and you’re making decisions to do the right thing, you’re also probably running that asset profitably.”
“At Phillips 66, operating excellence is defined as process safety, environmental excellence and personal safety. It isn’t just a competitive advantage in our industry; it’s woven into the fabric of who we are as a company,” Garland said.
He told the university crowd the story of a newly hired operator at the Billings Refinery who, during a routine inspection, noticed an unusual flame pattern that caused him to shut down the unit. His action prevented a small pinhole leak from developing into something potentially much worse. Garland used the story to illustrate that every Phillips 66 employee, even in their first week on the job, has the authority to stop potentially unsafe work. “It’s comforting to know that the folks we have operating our pipelines and working shifts at our refineries and our plants are going to make the right decisions,” he said.
Prior to his remarks, Garland had the opportunity to meet a group of 11 business students in a round-table discussion on the role of business ethics in leadership. “There isn’t one specific habit or character trait of success,” he said. “To be successful, you need two things: passion and commitment. I’ve seen people with all levels of talent accomplish incredible feats because they’re passionate about what they’re doing, and they are committed to seeing the project through.”
Some students left the event inspired and eager to develop a career in the energy industry. “The exposure to someone this successful in an industry I’m interested in is humbling – I hung on every word,” Mabel Wan, a junior, said. “I really feel now that his level of success is attainable through the passion, commitment and hard work that he spoke about.”
In the closing to his speech, Garland remarked that there are always opportunities to do the right thing. He urged the students to never compromise and assured them that success will follow. “Ethics is fundamental to developing the leaders who will keep this country economically second to none – especially in times of great opportunity, as we’re experiencing now in our industry.”