ChE Lynn Frostman directs Baker Hughes’ Gulf operations
Armed with smarts, passion and the backing of parents and teachers, she found ChE a natural fit. Now a leader, she’s honing her people skills as well
'I focus a lot on getting the ‘people part’ right,” says Lynn Frostman, operations director for oilfield services company Baker Hughes (Houston, TX). She works in the company’s Gulf of Mexico fluids and chemicals organization.
“I try to treat everyone with respect, while holding them accountable for achieving our goals. Wherever possible, I seek input from my direct reports and colleagues so we can collectively come up with the best way to proceed, but when necessary, I’ll make the decision and move forward. I want to ensure that everyone sees the vision of where we’re going.”
Frostman has seven direct reports, five of whom also have people reporting to them. “Overall, I’m responsible for a team of 440 people,” she explains. “The majority of the organization I lead is made up of front-line field personnel who execute jobs and services at our customers’ work sites.
“Most of our operations take place on offshore rigs or platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Another large group in my team handles preparation of our products and equipment, logistics of shipping the products and equipment to customer facilities, and refurbishment of products and equipment when they’re returned to our facilities.”
Frostman is part of the Baker Hughes Gulf of Mexico leadership team that reports to the managing director. “I am responsible for the P&L for my parts of the organization,” she emphasizes. “I champion the group vision and strategy and make sure that it’s aligned with the overall strategy of Baker Hughes. First and foremost, I’m accountable for ensuring that our employees have a safe working environment and that all our activities are conducted in a safe and compliant manner. I am accountable for providing high-quality products and flawless execution of services to our customers, and the expertise of my team allows me to do that.”
Positive influences shape a future
Frostman grew up in suburban Chicago. Her earliest aspiration was to be an astronaut. In school, she gravitated toward math and science, particularly chemistry. “My parents always said I could do anything I set my mind to, and served as role models for both integrity and a strong work ethic,” she remembers. “I was blessed to have several outstanding teachers who encouraged me and pushed me to take on challenges I didn’t think I could handle.”
When it came time for college, she picked Michigan State University (East Lansing). “I chose Michigan State because it offered a balanced education,” explains Frostman. “It had the resources and amenities of a large university, but also offered personal attention through the alumni distinguished scholarship program. My first month on campus, I was able to begin research projects with a professor in the chemical engineering department.
“Pursuing a degree in chemical engineering seemed like a great opportunity to apply my interests in math and chemistry to solve real-world problems,” she adds. She earned her BS in chemical engineering in 1990.
She continues, “After a great research experience as an undergraduate, I decided to continue on to graduate school. I got my PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) in 1995.”
Putting down roots in the Lone Star State
After graduation she and her husband moved to Houston. “My husband also has a PhD in chemical engineering,” she explains. “He and I ended up with three job offers between us, but in three different cities. As chemical engineers, we decided it would be easier for me to find a job in Houston, where he had an offer, than for him to find a job in either Chicago or New York, where I had offers.
“Through my academic connections, I found a post-doctoral research associate position at Rice University (Houston). This offered me my first introduction to the oil industry. After a year and a half, I learned that Baker Hughes was looking for someone with my background. I started at Baker Hughes in 1997 as a senior development engineer.”
Frostman is a member of Baker Hughes’ women’s resource group (WRG), advocating and facilitating the recruitment, development and retention of outstanding female talent. The WRG highlights successful people and programs within Baker Hughes, shares research on best practices, and identifies tools to help managers actively develop and lead a diverse workforce.
Outside Baker Hughes, Frostman is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE, Richardson, TX), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE, New York, NY), and American Chemical Society (ACS, Washington, DC).
Frostman looks forward to continuing her tenure at Baker Hughes. “Right now, I focus on growing the business for the future while balancing the near-term financial performance of the organization. I hope to continue broadening my experience with some operations roles, learning more about the other product lines Baker Hughes offers.
“Longer term, I aspire to a senior leadership role in our technology organization. After sixteen years, I find oilfield services an exciting industry: amazing technology, tough challenges and great people!”
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