TZL 933


OCTOBER 31, 2011, ISSUE 933

B E S T F I RM The ‘GATE’-way to education and retention About Gate, LLC

Best Firm to Work For a desirable place to work, employees say. By Bryan Sullivan Correspondent E ducation may land you a job, but continuing education en- ables you to keep your job and to move higher up the ladder. It allows employees to develop the tools and knowledge needed to ensure that their clients get the help they need. This is one of the primary philoso- phies that make GATE LLC (Houston, TX) a Best Multi-Discipline Architec- ture and Engineering Services Firm to Work award winner… two years run- ning. Big-ticket compensation. “On top of a vigorous continuing education program, we also offer an incentive compensation program; competitive salary structure; full payment of med- ical benefits for employees and their families; and 529 and 401k plans,” says Lee Jordan, engineering manager. Jordan was originally attracted to GATE because he wanted to work in the deepwater oil and gas industry. He also sought the opportunity to join a young firm, where he could help make it the type of company for which people would be proud to work. “I have been at GATE for almost 10 years. For the last seven years I have been the engineering manager respon- sible for the day-to-day management of our technical staff and am currently transitioning into an operations man- ager role responsible for the company as a whole,” Jordan says. GATE University. GATE prides itself on maintaining a work environ- ment that stimulates staff to become the best they can be. The main items that make GATE a consistent Best Firm to Work For include their focus on em- ployee training and development and

Who are the founders? GATE was founded in 2000 by Grant Gibson to provide a level of customer service and staff development that he felt was lacking at established consultancy companies. What do they do? The GATE project portfolio is centered on deepwater operations – largely as a result of the increased risks associated with the design, installation, and operation of such facilities. It has a varied workload that ranges from new technology development and evaluation, pre-FEED (front-end engineering design) and FEED support, and commissioning and start-up, to troubleshooting of producing facilities.

the ensuing chance this gives people to quickly place new hires in positions of responsibility that challenge and stim- ulate them. GATE also fosters an open- door policy that assures that all staff is available on a more or less permanent basis to anyone who needs professional or personal help. The company also al- locates approximately 4 percent of its revenue for staff training and develop- ment. Internally, there is GATE University – a training program that brings new staff rapidly up to speed. The freedom to choose. While anything can be said about why a firm is a great place to work, it’s what the staff says that really matters. Mark Myhre, an engineering consul- tant who has worked at GATE for three years, reveals his favorite perk – the overall flexibility given to employees. “GATE provides the freedom to choose/change career paths, pursue personal interests, and to seek and at- tain project work that stimulates the individual engineer while working a flexible schedule. This freedom keeps work exciting and challenging,” he says. Another employee, Marla Perez, a hu- man resource and compliance manager who has been with GATE for 10 years, says, “GATE is committed to meeting the challenge of competitive pay as well as offering job security and a compen- sation package that is supportive of its employees’ lifestyles. And, being recog- nized as a Best Firm to Work For is a powerful tool for attracting graduates

to the company. It is an important re- cruitment tool.”

On the rise. GATE is growing rap- idly. With 30 staff members and a sin- gle office in Houston – the hub of the oil and gas industry – it has a global presence. “Our Houston office supports projects in locations such as the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, Brazil, and Australia,” Jor- dan says. A few staff members have been with GATE since the beginning (2000). “A better measure of retention is prov- en by the number of graduates that we have hired who are still with us,” Lee says. “Since 2004, we have taken on 12 graduate engineers with an aver- age tenure, to date, of three years. Only one hire has moved on and is now one of our clients at a major oil company. Firm’s dual focus. While build- ing a successful firm in today’s econo- my is a daunting challenge to any se- nior staff members, GATE has a dual focus. Its first focus is to maintain the status of being a Best Firm to Work For. The second focus is simple – they want to be “hot.” “We want to be a great place to work for and also be a strong and success- ful company in years to come,” Jordan says. “On both counts, there is no com- promise.”


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