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Leading our team of global experts

Methanex’s team of global experts is critical to our manufacturing operations, which span six locations and a dozen plants around the world. They connect our manufacturing teams, helping to break down silos, and they help us innovate and move forward towards achieving our current and future operational goals and aspirations. An example of this is leading our thinking on how to achieve our commitments in reducing emissions from our current operations and in exploring and eventually implementing the options that will allow us to make lower-carbon methanol. 

The Global Experts team is led by Matt Geary, Methanex’s Director of Operational Excellence, and we talked to him about his career and the team he leads. 

What is “Operational Excellence”? 

Operational Excellence is about constantly striving for better, ensuring that we have high standards and that we meet them. We set high targets for plant reliability, which basically means we expect our plants to run continuously and efficiently for years, until we take them offline for a few weeks to run regular maintenance, such as inspection of equipment and activities like replacing our catalyst material which enables the chemical reaction that creates methanol. 

A methanol plant has a lifespan of decades, and as new technologies become proven, we know there are ways that we can make our plants run better and for longer. Our global experts focus on how we design, operate, and maintain our plants, and given the breadth and depth of their collective experience, we lean on them and their curiosity for new technologies that can help us improve.  

For example, the team brought their expertise to help guide the design and construction of our G3 plant in the U.S., which will go into operation in 2024. 

What’s an example of how they supported or guided decisions relating to G3?  

The global experts are custodians of our global project documents – essentially our plant design standards – which they keep current as industry codes evolve, and as we learn new things through the operation of our plants. Whenever we want to make a deviation to those designs, which can be driven by a variety of factors, we lean on the global experts to provide guidance and direction as the project team weighs alternatives. The global expert team exists to ensure we make the correct technical decisions, as well as supporting the project team often highlighting previous experiences and lessons learned. 

For G3, as an example, the global expert team worked extensively with the project team to evaluate different manufacturers for the compressor technology that ultimately made its way into the G3 plant. 

How did you come to lead this team? 

I think it was a combination of things. I’m curious, which led me early in my career to want to understand all aspects of our plants (how and why things are the way they are) and this gave me good grounding and exposure to most of the disciplines on our global expert team today. I was able to work for a few years in Medicine Hat, which exposed me to different ways of approaching similar problems. I also led three large turnarounds including, I suspect, one of the largest in Methanex’s history, which involved around 1,400 people on site for several weeks (which is nearly our current global employee count), so I think these all helped set me up for my current role.  

I put myself out there and looked for these opportunities, and I got the support of the business. I’ve found it extremely supportive here; there are lots of people who want to see you succeed and who are willing and excited to share their expertise with you. 

What did you do to learn all aspects of a plant? 

I started as a Reliability Engineer with Methanex over 16 years ago here in New Zealand, just as we were restarting our Motunui complex. The project took around a year, and I put my hand up and took the opportunity to literally crawl through every single vessel on that site. That wasn’t specifically a requirement of my role; I was just driven to learn as much as I could with the opportunity I was given.  That approach allowed me to learn the plant inside-out, and it started my career off with a solid understanding of how our plants operate. It also exposed me to all the different disciplines that comprise the Global Expert team, and I got to work closely with some of them. 

Do you ever wish you were a global expert instead of the leader? 

In the early years, I got a lot of satisfaction as an engineer, but my role today is still technically focused, so don’t feel I’m missing out! There’s always something going on, always something to learn, and incredibly smart people to learn from, which I appreciate, because I enjoy being able to dabble in a little bit of everything. I also enjoy being technically challenged and challenging the norm to ensure we are always improving.  

I think of myself as a ‘coordinator’ of the team, making sure Methanex leverages our global experts in the best way we can, and a large part of this is ensuring we cascade knowledge. I’m doing my best to provide opportunities to others to get that same learning I got here. I’m still learning, too, but now I’m learning through others, which is equally exciting and something new for me. I’m a huge proponent of people embracing opportunity, asking questions, and taking a chance on themselves to try something new and different, especially here, where you’ll be supported. There’s no better place to learn.

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