Defining and valuing management training in Oil & Gas

In a recent discussion with industry veteran Alain Desiderato (ex Schlumberger, Petronas) we debated the value of training. It’s noticeable that after a downturn, the companies that recover fastest are those that maintained investment in training. Why? In tough times, companies inevitably lose a lot of experienced staff – and those that are left behind may struggle with morale and motivation, resulting in poor performance and lack of engagement. But if those who stay receive investment in training to help them rise to the new challenges they have to take on, there are tangible benefits:

• Morale and motivation increase – with encouragement and confidence despite tough times, performance improves
• Knowledge and skills increase – so the company benefits from their greater expertise and the individual benefits from enhanced career opportunities when business picks up.

That led us to wonder what sort of training people are interested in, and we asked 6,300 O&G professionals for their views – the responses are summarised below (email me if you’d like more detail).


We had 340 responses, representing most sectors within the industry, and it’s interesting to note the bias towards improving management, rather than technical, skills. That may reflect our audience (we wouldn’t suggest it is representative of the entire industry), but it also reflects a recognition that in the “new” energy world, it’s not enough to rely on technical qualifications. Understanding the strategic drivers of a business, knowing how to manage risks, and developing leadership skills are all essential to succeed in a changing and challenging market.

With the Great Crew Change, new competition from alternative energy sources, increased regulatory pressures as well as the usual geopolitical and financial risks associated with the industry, the need for transferable management skills is greater than ever. And of course, in that word “transferability” lies one of the problems: with the so-called Gen Y (or millennial) employees reluctant to stay at the same company all their life, some firms are reluctant, in turn, to invest in their futures with training. “What happens to my business if I spend money training them to be a good manager and then they leave?” is a common question – to which the only response can be “What happens to your company if you don’t train them to be a good manager and they stay?”  It is salutary to look at other sectors: banks and IT firms who didn’t invest during the last two downturns not only lost talent to more astute direct competitors but also to firms in new markets who needed their skills and offered a different, more exciting career path – worth bearing in mind as the unconventionals and renewables sectors grow.

Measuring training’s ROI isn’t always easy but there are established models out there – something we will look at in a future newsletter.

As always we’d love to hear your views. What training would really make a difference to your career or your company? How would you measure its ROI? To comment, please use the comments box below.

In response to all this, we’ve developed three new courses for 2016, in addition to our MBA and Contracts & Negotiation courses: Risk Management, Project Management and Leadership.

If you’d like more information on any of these, email us at  or see our 2016 calendar.

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