Faces of National Fuel: Call Center Supervisor Eric L. Gets a Lot Done Before Breakfast

Eric L. is a call center supervisor in National Fuel’s Buffalo office. He’s also a hands-on dad, military veteran, and recent, second-time college graduate. With his head still in school mode, he decided this past semester to take advantage of National Fuel’s tuition reimbursement benefit to pursue his MBA. Here, he talks to us about finding career fulfillment and his habit of waking up with the birds to get it all done.

On his role and responsibilities:

I oversee the customer accounting section within the consumer business department. Basically, that entails customer billing, billing adjustments, security billing, and meter issues. It’s a 30-person team.

When opportunity knocks:

I was a call center representative for four years, and then I was approached by my supervisors to see if I was interested in an opportunity to take the next step in my career.

On the perks of his promotion:

There is more variety to my job. I get to work in small teams to perform testing on projects that will be implemented in the system. It is just a lot more challenging. That need or desire in me to want more has been fulfilled.

What he looks forward to about work:

The fact that it is challenging. I like the team environment and seeing people underneath me grow and develop into other roles. And of course, there’s the stability, which is huge.

What he means by stability:

Customers are always going to need utilities, so there is not that fear that I could come in tomorrow and find them shutting the doors. The company has been around for a significant amount of time, and it is going to be as long as customer are still using gas.

On his next steps:

The promotion I received was contingent on me going back to school, so I went to Medaille College for business administration. Now, I’m going back to get my MBA, and National Fuel will pay a part of that. My undergrad was done through the GI Bill, so I did not take advantage of the benefits that National Fuel would have offered. As I continue my personal growth through education, National Fuel offers the chance to develop further in the management role. There are different titles, and there is the possibility of transitioning into other departments. So, there are plenty of opportunities available.

How he manages a full-time job and full-time school:

On my lunches, I do a quick homework assignment. It’s a lot of staying up late at night. I mean, for a while, I did absolutely nothing else.

Why he’ll never regret his MySpace profile:

I served just under five years in the Army Infantry in an air assault unit. Basically, that is jumping out of helicopters. I did a tour in Iraq for a year. And overseas, I was on Myspace, which is how I started talking to my now wife. I came back home, we met, and the rest is history.

How the military has benefited his career:

I definitely think the military taught me discipline and the organizational skills that have helped me be successful here at National Fuel as a team leader in charge of others and their development. I can say I am thankful to the military for that.

On staying busy outside of work:

Well, there’s school and then definitely my duties as a father. Doing homework with them, playing with the girls. I am definitely a fun dad.

And even sometimes doing things for himself:

I love going to the gym. I do that every single morning. I also play on two different hockey teams, one being through the VA—the Buffalo Sabres Warriors—and then the other one is a recreational hockey league.

And then there’s his devastatingly early wakeup call:

My alarm goes off every day at 4:20, and I am at the gym by 5. I work out until 6 or 6:20, depending on what time I have to start or if I open in the morning, and then I come here to National Fuel. I normally like to be in between 6:30 and 6:45.

But National Fuel helps him make it work:

They are extremely flexible, especially with school. If I ever have to leave early, I just relay that message to my boss, and the company lets me out to take care of whatever I need to do.