In March 2016, Cory Moore was laid off from his job as a petroleum geologist. It was at that time he decided to pursue a profession in the utility industry and obtain his NERC certification. This meant starting over – a new career. Without any experience in the field, he registered for training and began his journey. This isn’t your typical story where someone’s career path was clear-cut or destined. Rather, it’s one about a person stepping out in fate and choosing to leave behind a career he once poured his heart and soul into.
This is Cory’s story:
“I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I met my future wife, Afton, in high school. We weren't high school sweethearts, but we were good friends and both graduated McCallum High School in the spring of 2003.
In the fall of 2003, I attended Stephen F. Austin State University, a small college in Nacogdoches, Texas. I had no idea what I wanted to do. So, I began a costly process of elimination. I narrowed down my choices to geology and physics. Geology won out because we went on lots of camping trips as part of the curriculum. I floundered around in college and took off a couple of semesters to work. Finally, I got my butt in gear and decided I wanted to make some money.
I took my last final in organic chemistry on May 10, 2010. I had finally graduated. Twenty hours later, I was a mudlogger in training on a drilling rig 70 miles east of Nacogdoches. There, I examined and described the rock cuttings from oil wells and documented hydrocarbon shows and their chemical composition. I worked for 56 days straight. It was brutal, but at the same time it cleansed my soul. I was so tired of living the college-bum life. The feeling of earning a paycheck was awesome and the next six years proved to be a wild ride.
The next several years I found myself advancing in my career with moves to Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. I worked 330 days a year in the frozen tundra drilling rigs from state to state. In 2012, the company I was working for sent me to Houston for training. There I reconnected with my high school friend, Afton. I hadn't seen her since 2003, but it was like we never missed a step.
Later that year, I took a new job as a real time geomechanical consultant with a world-renowned company and moved to Houston, where Afton lived. This new job was a major move forward for me as a geologist. I now advised oil companies about pore pressure and stress regimes present deep in the earth; much more responsibility than any of my other jobs. It was a really cool job that afforded me the opportunity to travel and work in Africa from time to time.
In 2013, Afton and I were married and had our first daughter, Andee Lou Moore. Life was going well. I was progressing in my career and had a beautiful, happy family. I was traveling to the United Kingdom and Denmark, writing scientific papers, and getting published in professional journals. The money was great. My career was great.
Then, in 2015, it all came crashing down. Oil prices plummeted. Work dried up. Oil companies were going bankrupt left and right, and there were massive layoffs from stable companies.
I was later hired back as a contractor and made just enough money to pay the bills. The spark for my once highly successful career as a petroleum geologist was gone. I truly felt the oil markets would rally, probably with vengeance, but the possibility of them crashing again was enough to deter me. My boss at the company made it through many oil field layoff cycles in the past 30 years, but this one got him. In his mid-fifties, he found himself with two kids about to finish high school and go to college, car payments, and house payments. I basically looked at him and said, ‘I don’t want to be like you. I am leaving oil exploration.'
Now what? What do I do next? I turned to my father in law who had been working for the same electric utility his entire career. Because he knew I was a determined, hard worker, he recommended I look into obtaining a NERC certification. He referred me to SOS Intl. I looked over the system operator literature and decided to enroll. So, with a chip on my shoulder from just losing my high-horse of a career that I had worked so hard for, and a fire under my ass from the family I had to provide for, I gave it all I had.
I studied day and night for seven months. I took the online course, attended the instructor-led class, participated on SOS’s instructor-student calls, asked questions – lots of questions, discussed theories, and studied day and night. On October 8, 2016, I took the NERC exam. I completed the exam with only four minutes left. I remember pacing in the lobby, nervously waiting as the proctors processed my grade. When I received my score and saw I had made 92 percent, I broke down in tears. I had never worked so hard for something in my entire life. I did it for my little girls, I did it for my wife, and I did it to prove the industry wrong that laid me off.”
Cory was quickly hired by a national utility and began work in December. It turns out that one of the utilities’ managers was in the same NERC instructor-led class as Cory and was impressed with his knowledge and passion. Unbeknown to Cory, he received a three-day interview during his initial NERC training class.
Cory was given a second chance for a successful career from an industry that is constantly in search of hard working, dependable, and determined men and women who have a desire to make a difference. Initially, he may have been lost in a vast sea of procedures, nomenclature, terminology, and concepts, but his determination to succeed and a ‘prove them wrong’ attitude won out in the end.