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MC background left ’86 grad Well-suited for change

MC
11/15/2011
Without even trying, Roger Well ’86 embarked on an interdisciplinary path during his years at Monmouth College. It wasn’t because Well eyed the future and knew that sound foundations in business and science would set him up for his current role as an executive vice president and chief operating officer. Rather, he simply wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

“I’m interested in a lot of things, and that’s how I’ve operated my whole life,” he said. “My dad was a teacher and a superintendent, and when I first came to college, I had education and coaching in my head. I dabbled in some business classes, and I thought about majoring in computer science for a while. I had a hard time deciding.”

In fact, Well’s academic experiences mirrored his diverse athletic talents. He excelled in the decathlon, using several skill sets to twice place 10th in the nation in the challenging 10-event competition. Also a standout on the football team, Well was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame in 2006.

“It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I declared a geology major,” he said. “I was one of the last ones. Professor (Jim) Wills got me hooked on it. It was a very, very interesting major, with a lot of great professors.”

He continued, “At the time I decided on my major, the oil and gas industry was very strong. Professor Wills was even a consultant for the industry. Locating and producing oil and gas – the exploration side of it – was very big. But by the time I graduated, there was an oil bust. There were long lines at gas stations and no new investments in exploration – it bottomed out.”

Fortunately for Well, environmental regulations entered the scene.

“The Clean Water Act had come out about a decade earlier, and others followed,” he said. “So there was a demand for environmental geologists. It was the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of exploration, the big word was ‘remediation.’ How do you take an area impacted by these big oil and gas companies and restore it to its original state?”

At the urging of geology faculty mentors Ronald Tyler and Larry Wiedman, Well pursued a master’s degree, choosing to specialize in hydrogeology at the University of Toledo.

Jumping ahead to 2011, Well was promoted to his executive VP and COO titles at Enfos Inc., which is headquartered in San Mateo, Calif. The company also has offices in Europe, Asia and the Chicago area, where Well lives.

“It’s a nice title,” quipped Well, “ but at a small start-up company, you do whatever it takes. You don’t have a lot of people on the bench that you can delegate to.”

He had held the position of vice president of product management since the company’s inception in 2000 and played a vital role in building the company’s foundation and customer base. Prior to the founding of Enfos with two other managing partners, Well spent 13 years as vice president of the petroleum business sector for Handex Environmental, Inc., where he was responsible for business strategy and environmental consulting for national accounts such as BP (British Petroleum) and ExxonMobil.

Billing itself as “the on-demand enterprise environmental business management solution provider,” Enfos helps companies minimize risk and lower the costs to comply with environmental liability public disclosure standards, corporate governance mandates and environmental regulations associated with contaminated land and groundwater.

“Enfos is a niche commercial software company that works with companies from the oil and gas, chemicals, manufacturing, mining and energy and utilities industries,” said Well. “BP is our biggest customer. Big companies like that can have as many as 5,000 or 6,000 properties that can be contaminated. Industrial operations typically leave a footprint of environmental contamination, and by helping them follow regulations, deal with compliance issues and manage large volumes of scientific and financial data, our software solution supports the process of restoring the land.”

Well is responsible for environmental business strategy and operations, business development and client program management. He said the job requires an understanding of several disciplines, including environmental science, geology, chemistry and biology, as well as “a lot of business skills. … It’s very much an integration of business, science and technology.”

His success is related directly to Monmouth’s focus on integrated studies, which prepares students to solve complex problems.

“What happened to me is fairly typical,” said Well. “After about three to five years on a career path, young professionals will often come to a crossroads, where they’ll have to make a decision about staying on the science side or getting more involved in the business/general management side. I decided to go toward business.”

While holding down his position at Handex, Well earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago.

“The writing was on the wall to get a better understanding of managing and leading the organization,” he said. “That skill set certainly paid dividends for me. It added a credential and a level of understanding that I did not have previously.”

Well has some advice for students just embarking on their college careers, and he’s certainly qualified to offer it. His daughter, Madison, is a freshman at Monmouth this year, and he is looking forward to visiting her at this weekend’s Homecoming, as well as participating in his 25-year class reunion.

“I interview new graduates, and the candidates I’m looking for have the background in science, but also knowledge in other disciplines and strong leadership skills,” said Well. “That’s a personal bias of mine.”

He said he encourages students to “become a subject matter expert in at least one thing, but at the same time, have a basic understanding of other key disciplines. … In my case, I did that by chance but, in general, a liberal arts education helps you out in terms of acquiring that type of knowledge.”

Well also shared some insights about working for a small company vs. a “mega-corporation.”

“Just like my choice of college put me in a more intimate learning environment, the same can be said for a career choice,” he said. “At a smaller organization, you can make a bigger impact quicker. You can build something of your own, and you see the results of your labor quicker.”

Craig Modesitt, president and CEO of Enfos, neatly summarized those results when he announced Well’s recent promotion:

“I want to personally thank Roger for his dedication to Enfos and indispensable council. Roger’s management skills and industry expertise distinguish him as a leader within Enfos and the industry as a whole.”