Confidentiality: Take it very seriously!!

At some point in your life, you may be asked to keep certain employment or business practices confidential.  This information may have the potential to ruin business relationships and you never know who knows whom.  Some people do not take this matter seriously and I wish to give an example of how the potential of their ignorance can have potentially devastating effects.

In 2009, I worked as an oil and gas accountant with Oklahoma based Semgroup. This was an excellent company with great employees, management and outstanding work environment!  Our offices were in a Calgary office Tower.  The owner of this tower is involved with North American energy infrastructure and has thousands of employees.  There was also a brokerage firm in the same building as ours but I have forgotten their name.

Every day, all of the Semgroup employees would hear non public information regarding the inner business practices of the company. This was done simply by all of the employees taking the elevators and listening to numerous conversations. Their employees felt their company was the only one in the building.  They simply could not be more wrong.

It was quite routine for their employees to speak very loudly when others boarded the elevator and discussed what was going on with a now famous pipeline. This was long before the media started giving it serious attention. If everyone at Semgroup got together, we could have easily pieced together their internal operations which they wanted to keep confidential.

One day, someone from the brokerage firm in the building saw me push the elevator for the 20th floor and said “Semgroup; is there anything not public that I should know about?” He did not know that I was also trained as a stockbroker and was well aware of the consequences of passing on insider information of a company. My response to him was to read the newspapers as all the information he needed was there.

At that point, I was very lucky and grateful to all my fellow Semgroup employees who knew and understood the importance of keeping information confidential.  Their ethics and practices have always been an inspiration to me!