A scholarship award winner turned global trainee finds a galaxy of opportunity at Tenaris’s seamless pipe mill in Bay City, TX.
For Madison O’Neal, Global Trainee in the plant’s hot rolling mill, home matters. Having lived her whole life in Matagorda County, she knows and loves the area, and she is thrilled to begin her career right in her own backyard. “I like the small-town feel, going everywhere and knowing everyone. Here, I have family relationships with everyone; I know their grandparents,” she says, “and I love the coast.”
It was in Matagorda County where O’Neal discovered her passion for mechanical engineering. She’d always had a love for math and problem solving, and thanks to her family, she saw mechanical engineering at work from a young age. Growing up, she got a front row seat to her father’s drag racing as well as the chance to get her hands dirty at her granddad’s machine shop. Mechanics appealed to her. “Hot rolling mill tooling,” says O’Neal, “is a machine shop on a large industrial scale.”
In high school, O’Neal first connected with Tenaris, which started construction on the Bay City plant in 2013 and commissioned fall 2017, as a scholarship applicant. During her senior year, she applied for and received a Tenaris Merit Award; she was one of fifty students in the U.S. to receive a scholarship from the company. The $20,000, life-changing scholarship, awarded to her and another student in 2017, paid for half of her college tuition.
With excellent grades, varsity sports, and a drive to succeed, O’Neal could have gone anywhere across the country to pursue engineering, but her love for the area propelled her to choose Texas A&M in Corpus Christi, TX.
O’Neal stayed in touch with Tenaris in college and expressed interest in an internship to Courtney Stevens, former Community Relations Manager at Tenaris. Her work and persistence led to internships in 2018 and 2019 as an operations engineer intern at the TenarisBayCity hot rolling mill, where she revised and created critical operative practice procedures as well as trained shift leaders, supervisors, and managers on new elements added to critical operative practice procedures. She was one of 20 interns at Tenaris in Texas. “I had to learn how everything worked and the entire process from start to finish,” says O’Neal. Much of what she learned hands-on at Tenaris in the summers she revisited again in the classroom in college. “It was neat,” she says of the textbook-to-real-world connection. “Especially with material science.”
Tenaris was impressed with her work and offered her a full-time position and entrance in the Global Trainee Program, which she began this past May, two days after her college graduation. In the two-year rotational program, O’Neal has the opportunity to take leadership training, work in two different positions, and participate in an international training opportunity to learn Tenaris fundamentals and accelerate professional development.
Besides embracing the ever-present challenge to be better, O’Neal says one of the many aspects that draws her to Tenaris is the diversity of people. “The collaboration with everyone is great. I love the teamwork and how we come to a solution by working together.”
Over the course of her internships and the start of her new position, O’Neal credits many people with teaching her and supporting her in her work, namely Marcelo Alvarez, rolling mill director, and colleagues. “This team was very welcoming and supportive during my time as an intern,” says O’Neal. “They were always available to answer any questions that I had and included me in a variety of other projects and discussions outside my internship projects.” She credits the team with giving her a fantastic view of what Tenaris is like. “Working for Marcelo [Alvarez] has had a tremendous impact on my decision to come back to work at Tenaris full-time,” says O’Neal. “Throughout my internships, Marcelo continuously challenged me with various tasks so that I would be able to learn as much as possible within the short timeframe I was at Tenaris.”
She continues her work with this team as a Global Trainee, under a new, direct supervisor. “I could not ask for more than these two managers. Their support and insight have had a significant impact on my desire to continue developing a career within the company.”
Tenaris has brought the worlds of mechanical engineering, collaboration, learning and global diversity to Matagorda County, and Madison O’Neal could not be happier. The opportunities to develop professionally stretch worldwide for her, right at home. She hopes to stay at Tenaris’s Bay City hot rolling mill; it has been the perfect fit.