Employee Stories: Derek Henderson

Derek Henderson

Derek Henderson, Assistant Plant Manager

Derek Henderson

Assistant Plant Manager

For my first 11 years in the military, I served in the Army Signal Corps for Microwave Radio Communications stateside and overseas in Germany and Korea. I then moved to Utah to serve in the National Guard, where I learned French and completed missions in Italy, Zambia, and Morocco. I am still enlisted in the National Guard as a Platoon Sergeant in Louisiana and am going on my 19th year serving in the military.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a chemical engineer and thought that path would lead me to a lifelong career of making shampoo! However, I was inspired by the wide scope of possibilities in chemical engineering when I discovered Praxair. I started at Praxair in the Commercial Operations Leadership Program (COLP), where I received training in all aspects of Praxair Distribution, Inc., including high pressure cylinder filling and distribution, bulk acetylene filling and distribution, and high level corporate operations. I then began my current role as the Assistant Plant Manager in Louisiana in the acetylene bulk filling plant.

My 15 years of supervisory experience in the military, positioned me to work with operators in the plant effectively and efficiently. My experience in the military showed me leaders have to be understanding and learn how to manage diverse people with different personalities, ages and backgrounds.

My leadership style is cooperative. I believe this is the most effective way to lead a team, and at Praxair, everything is a team effort. We run our plant operations 24/7, so each member of our team plays a crucial role. Our success and our failure depends on our team’s efforts. We recently ran into a problem where our supply was significantly reduced and we needed to fill our bulk assets very efficiently. During the temporary shortage, I motivated my team by emphasizing the importance of each team member and acknowledging that together, we can overcome any obstacle. The team met the challenge and exceeded expectations.

At Praxair, every day we work together is an adventure. I’m fortunate to have been able to build upon what I learned in the military to build a second career at Praxair.

I’m fortunate to have been able to build upon what I learned in the military to build a second career at Praxair.