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Talent Challenges in the Energy Industry

Fortune 500 Energy Industry Leaders
Gather at BTS Event

Geopolitical, macroeconomic, business, technology, and demographic shifts are demanding more from talent leadership. For the Energy Industry, these challenges are especially real.

BTS hosted a summit on Talent Challenges in the Energy Industry in Houston, Texas on September 25, 2014. Business executives and talent leaders from Alix-Partners, Baker Hughes, Bechtel, Chevron, Transfield Services and Yokogawa attended the one-day interactive event facilitated by Fredrik Schuller, BTS Partner, and Matt Prostko, Managing Director of BTS Texas.

Fredrik Schuller kicked off the event by sharing the work BTS has done with Oil & Gas companies, citing over 25 innovative projects where BTS has partnered with Energy Industry clients to build the alignment, mindset and capabilities needed to execute their strategies.

7 Key Energy Industry Talent Challenges

An Oil & Gas Business Executive Panel on business and talent trends, opportunities and challenges featured Ed Hoffman, Advisor to the EVP, Downstream & Chemicals at Chevron, Derek Mathieson, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development at Baker Hughes, and Rob Scott, Project Manager, Pipeline Business Line OG&C at Bechtel. The panel was moderated by Susan Burnett, Vice President, Leadership Development at BTS and former Chief Talent Manager at Deloitte, Gap Inc., Hewlett Packard and Yahoo!

Mr. Mathieson set the stage early on with his conviction that “every business leader in this industry has to have talent top of mind.”

During the panel discussion, seven key challenges emerged to the forefront.

  • “The Great Crew Change” — The industry is challenged by the impending retirement of experienced and expert leaders. All panelists underscored the magnitude of the talent turnover — for some, it’s 25% of leaders over the next 4 years! Mr. Hoffman noted multiple implications, stressing, “We must capture the wisdom and judgment of those leaving us while getting the next generation of leaders ready to fill their shoes.” Rapid development is the only way to bridge the gap.
  • Innovation — All the panelists were focused on breaking down barriers and creating new vehicles to catalyze a culture of product, process and workplace innovation. Mr. Scott reflected, “We come from a history where our teams and customers were measured performance simply by safety, cost, schedule and quality. Our future will be measured by how well we innovate and deliver new values. In particular, customers are looking for contractors who have a reputation for world-class performance that is delivered in an inclusive and consultative way. Coincidentally, those capabilities are exactly what Bechtel’s leadership development and talent management programs are enhance.”

    Mr. Mathieson continued the conversation, discussing Baker Hughes’ “N+10 initiative” and their partnership with BTS to engage the top 100 leaders in execution. Designed to closely connect ideas with capital, the initiative drives collaboration between senior leaders from all over the company and the C-Suite on the innovations that will be needed for success over the next 10 years.
  • Future Leader Development & Faster — All recognized the demand to accelerate the development and readiness of leaders for the bigger, more complex roles as an important business and talent priority. Mr. Scott stated it best. “The talent pipeline is the life blood of our organization and we are launching many initiatives to ensure that we have the leaders we need for the future.” Mathieson emphasized that “We have to prepare these future leaders for challenges that are bigger, more complex, and require leadership in a volatile ecosystem.”
  • Engaging the New Generation — The panelists agreed that they must improve the talent attraction, engagement, and retention of the new generation of employees who seek meaningful work, big contributions, flexibility, autonomy, and fast moving careers. Mathieson noted “The new workforce starts the interview conversation with questions about our contributions to the world and our values. Mr. Hoffman agreed, “Chevron has to innovate our workplace as millennials seek meaningful jobs where they can make big contributions early and often. We’re already experiencing challenges retaining these new employees.”
  • Diversity & Inclusion — It has become a business imperative to create an environment that is inclusive and supports the attraction, development and promotion of women and minorities. Chevron has made this a business strategy and has launched a seven point plan to achieve a more diverse and inclusive organization. Meanwhile, Baker Hughes has a two-prong approach to diversity — systematic and direct. All believed if they continued to lag in this area, they will not have the talent they need to execute their strategies, especially in emerging economies and challenging countries
  • Brand — All the panelists shared that they were taking actions to increase the brand reputation of Oil & Gas companies and the industry ecosystem as a whole. Mr. Hoffman noted, “Gone are the days when our reputation was defined by our actions alone. Today, an accident at Chevron, a miss at Bechtel, a service problem at Baker Hughes impacts all of us. We all have a common goal to increase the reputation for excellence, safety, quality and responsibility in our industry.” Mathieson continued, “We are operating in a very complex environment and going through a period of compressed and accelerated change, during a time where our reputation as an industry isn’t as good as it could be. This has a significant implication on talent.”
  • Performance — Continuing to develop incumbents’ capabilities to be “great” and achieve the moving bar of high performance is another key priority. Mr. Scott highlighted “The speed of change in the economic, political and technology landscape requires new levels of creativity and high performance as Bechtel’s large, complex, multi-year and multi-national projects meet unanticipated external forces and changing customer demands.” To enable leaders to meet future challenges head on, Bechtel worked with BTS to develop and implement a “High Performance Teams” solution customized to their business and strategic priorities.

“We are operating in a very complex environment and going through a period of compressed and accelerated change, during a time where our reputation as an industry isn’t as good as it could be. This has a significant implication on talent. ”

Oil & Gas Simulation: Navigating Business and Talent Challenges

Event attendees were immersed in an Energy Simulation focused on business and talent challenges. Working in teams, attendees were challenged to make business and talent decisions, address future industry challenges, and execute initiatives to drive performance in a dynamic marketplace. Through the experience, attendees had the opportunity to address the challenges and market forces identified earlier in the Business Executive Panel, and to test potential solutions. At the conclusion of the simulation, one team won, achieving the best business and people performance.

BTS Strategy Execution Research

BTS shared its latest research, conducted in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit. Engaging leaders across the globe, the research validates that high performing companies balance their strategy formulation and execution efforts, while low performing companies spend more time on formulation and less on leadership and execution. Participants were impressed that business executives first prioritized the need to have the right capabilities to execute and acknowledged the critical role mindset plays in execution and change.

From Insight to Action: Working Sessions on Your Talent Challenges

Event attendees identified a real-world talent challenge they were faced with and collaborated with industry colleagues and BTS experts to learn about proven practices and to get new ideas in their challenge area. Identified talent challenges included:

  • How do we take succession plans into effective and urgent execution with executive ownership?
  • How can we define, assess and manage when a HIPO is “on and off the list”?
  • How can we best capture the wisdom of retiring experts before they leave the company?
  • What must change in the workplace to attract, engage, and retain the new workforce?

For attendees, the collaboration and in-depth discussions during the event surfaced innovative ideas and new practices to explore and put into action as they returned to their companies.

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