Abiding by the Dress Code

Whether it’s legal, strategy, or compliance, Doug May has the right hat to wear for any occasion at Magellan Midstream Partners

The metaphorical hat rack in Doug May’s office at Magellan Midstream Partners consists of three hooks.

The first holds his general counsel hat, which May wears as he manages all legal needs. The second is for his compliance and ethics officer hat, which is worn as May guides the company down the straight and narrow path of government and industry compliance through ever-expanding regulations. The third hook showcases his senior vice president hat, which May wears as he sits at Magellan’s executive management table as a valued business partner and strategist.

Each hat has a unique and important role to play at Magellan, and they are each a bright white—something May is careful to preserve no matter which he’s wearing.

“I firmly believe our culture is focused on doing the right things for the right reasons, and there is a lot of work involved in figuring out what that is,” May says about the oil and gas company with annual revenues of about $2.19 billion. “Even more broadly to that what and why, we must also ask how? How should we do the right thing?”

A recent shift at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has led to compliance audits of liquids pipeline companies for the first time in decades. In preparing for such an audit, May and his team—together with other subject matter experts in the company—determined that their existing systems for managing compliance weren’t enough to satisfy Magellan’s high compliance standards, so they agreed to take on the challenge of developing a more formalized process.

Because our people are willing to stand up and do the right thing, we will get it right the vast majority of the time.

One crucial step was creating a full-time compliance and ethics role to ensure that a member of the team was focused on compliance at all times. The team engaged in a year-long endeavor to write a comprehensive internal FERC Compliance Guide, distribute the guide to all employees whose work is regulated by the FERC in any way, and design and conduct targeted training on groups of employees whose jobs are impacted by FERC regulations. Not only are resources such as these easily accessible to employees, but an internal audit trail is also in place to demonstrate to regulators that Magellan is doing the right thing.

Safety is also a high priority at Magellan, as evidenced by signs at many of the company’s facilities reading “safety trumps productivity” to encourage employees to always stop and address any situation that isn’t safe.

Compliance with the law is a core value that was further emphasized through the formalization process, and May’s ultimate goal is to be in perfect compliance of every law at all times. However, he also knows that perfection doesn’t happen overnight, so in the meantime, he is thrilled with the company’s ethically sound culture of compliance.

“Our policies and legal evaluations may never be flawless, but because our people are willing to stand up and do the right thing, we will get it right the vast majority of the time,” May explains.

The drive to do what’s right emphasizes May’s leadership style in every one of his roles. It goes hand in hand with the importance he places on teamwork, especially when it comes to providing legal services with technical excellence and communication.

“I meet with my team once per week and we talk about big issues in our world,” May says. “We share stories about ethical and legal judgments, and how it’s important for us to be able to advise internal clients of both of those.”

May sends out a quarterly compliance update, often digging deeper into each item in Magellan’s code of business ethics. He also helps oversee a formal, company-wide training program focusing on these themes that each employee completes every three years. This consistent interaction with compliance policies is another way to strengthen the Magellan culture of stepping up and speaking up for what is right.

The company’s value of customer service starts at the top and is supported by all organizational leaders, “but when things happen that are not ideal, the way we react is even more indicative of how we see the world,” May says.

“We believe in our non-retaliation policies because we want each employee to know that they have a voice we want to hear, and that they are the hands and feet of the organization, each with an important role to play,” he says.

These people-first values and commitments to doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, guide the way Magellan conducts its business internally and externally—both with customers and regulators. They are also indicative of the kind of lawyer, leader, and teammate that Doug May is—no matter which hat he happens to be wearing on any given day.