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Brave new world

Oilfield Technology,

The challenges facing the energy industry in the coming decades are considerable. According to the UN, the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050, up from 7 billion today, while organisations such as the World Energy Council say that energy demand could double by the same year as consumers in the East and Indian subcontinent become more affluent and require more energy. New and sustainable sources of energy need to be found and developed amid environmental pressures.

Shell is at the forefront of the technical and scientific innovation required to meet the growing global energy demand in socially and environmentally responsible ways. For example, work has begun on the world’s first floating liquid natural gas facility, Prelude FLNG, which will be situated off the coast of Broome, Western Australia. It will be the largest floating offshore facility in the world. The project will create approximately 350 direct and many more indirect jobs, and recruitment is under way.

Elsewhere, major construction was completed in 2010 on Pearl GTL in Qatar, Shell’s major gas to liquids project that turns natural gas into cleaner burning fossil fuels. The largest industrial development of its kind, Pearl GTL holds more than 3500 patents and is the culmination of years of innovation that began in a lab in Amsterdam in the 1970s.

Consider the manpower! At its peak, more than 52 000 people, from more than 50 countries worked on the Pearl GTL plant, which led to a recruitment drive like no other. But even when it is not in the business of building 250 hectare plants in the Qatari desert, Shell still has to recruit 1000+ graduates and 4000+ experienced hires worldwide (according to January 2013 figures). The majority of these hires have a background in engineering disciplines.

Structured process

The company has structured processes in place to achieve these targets, which have evolved over time into a robust system. As Wim Ravesloot, Project Director, Shell Projects & Technology, explained: ‘If I start a project and I need to build my organisation, I need to mobilise people. The project will have a timeline and I’ll have milestones for when I need to have people in place to do the work. The worst thing you can do is hire someone and go through the whole process of bringing someone on board, and then find out from the individual or the company perspective that it doesn’t work.’

Recruitment for Shell has two distinct forms: graduate recruitment aimed at recruiting graduates with Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and PhDs, for careers with Shell, and professional recruitment, which aims to recruit professionals with at least three years of work experience for specific positions and careers.

Recruitment forecasting

Close collaboration between the different areas of the business within Shell and HR is key to forecasting who the company needs and when, which is not always easy when you have a volatile market.

Ken McKenzie, Technical Recruitment Lead HR & Corporate Europe, said: ‘Downstream is more predictable than upstream, where we require a diverse range of highly qualified people, such as geoscientists, petrophysicists or well engineers. This marketplace is a bit more volatile and fluid. To deal with this, Shell business leaders will complete an annual Business Planning Review in consultation with Line of Business, HR, Talent Managers and Recruitment. Each business will define their internal gaps and needs by region, country, skill pool and area of specialisation. The business submits a forecast for the coming year, and Shell recruitment works in collaboration to develop an integrated resourcing strategy to deliver on this global demand.’

Adapting to a contemporary world environment

For a graduate, applying to Shell begins with a visit to the Shell website to submit a CV, but for Elmer and his team the process starts long before that. ‘We have to attract them early on. We are not the only ones out there, so we need to reach out and stake our claim. That means going out to universities, going out to specific events and meeting people, identifying talent early and giving them an idea of Shell before they even apply.’

Shell also believes that its policy on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is an advantage that keeps it competitive and attractive to potential employees. ‘We are committed to broadening out diversity and deepening the inclusion of our workforce through dedicated leadership and accountability,’ said Ken. ‘Embedding D&I within our structure, people processes and culture will result in more customers, employees, stakeholders and partners choosing Shell more often’.

Further innovations in recruitment have come about thanks to the prevalence of social media. It has become a useful tool for recruiters and recruitment marketers looking to be more proactive. ‘In the last five years, we’ve seen more social media activity when we need to reach out to an external market,’ said Ken. ‘Ten years ago, people would submit an application to oil and gas job boards but the market dynamic has changed and continues to evolve. People are more visible now than they were before; that is a choice they make. We can identify candidates who may not be registered on the Shell site or on job boards by various means, such as looking for authors who have perhaps published papers or articles online.’


Is this a brave new world of recruiting? It is certainly a more agile and dynamic approach in line with the pace of innovation required if the energy industry is to rise to the challenge of supplying power to future generations.

Ken concluded: ‘Shell will continue to grow and build our organisation in key strategic areas and regions. The availability of a skilled, talented and effective workforce is of paramount importance across the energy industry; it is a critical factor for business success and the long term sustainability of the global supply chain it supports.'

This is the final part of Hydrocarbon Engineering’s Recruitment & Employment series. The full article from Shell can be found in the June issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering.

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