When it comes to the human resources in the oil and gas sector, the Middle Management Program is all the rage. The efforts done under the directives of the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, H.E. Eng. Tarek El Molla, and the Modernization Project to cultivate the sector’s employees should not go unnoticed. Such efforts require a shrewd business acumen; thus, Egypt Oil & Gas was keen to interview the masterminds behind the Middle Management Program.

An Asset to the Modernization Endeavor 

“We believe that the human is the main tool to guarantee a sustainable bright future for our sector,” Osama Mobarez, Undersecretary of the Minister’s Technical Office at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, said. In this regard, Mobarez explained that the Modernization Project was derived from that belief, as a main pillar in the Modernization Project was dedicated to the human resources development. The team behind this initiative ensured that middle managers would have an imperative role in the program; and thus, an imperative role in the whole sector.

Mobarez further shed light on the team’s continuous hard work to introduce programs for middle managers to help them realize their potentials through a succession plan. “These programs were designed to discover the sector’s hidden talents through a fully transparent process,” Mobarez added.

What is also unique about these programs is that they aim to solely focus on the human development and the sector’s employees only. Other programs tend to target upstream or downstream production. These programs, however, were in place to guarantee the presence of highly qualified, motivated and well-trained calibers, Mobarez elaborated. “These programs were even different as they provided employees with on job training and practical experience. The programs focused on several pillars, besides improving technical skills, they enhance business mindset as well as develop their leadership and communication skills,” he added.

The KPIs

The Program’s Sponsor, Hisham Noureldin, believes that to determine the success on the employee level, it was crucial to measure the difference these development programs added to them.

Noureldin revealed that this was done by a robust assessment that identifies their existent competencies to be able to build on their skills and enhance their overall performance. This was manifested not only on a technical level, but also their character and ideologies, he added. Noureldin recounted that this was evident during the last meeting between H.E. the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the youth when they presented their experience.

As for the current calibers who finished this round, Noureldin said that the team is currently revisiting the calibers’ career paths to make them befitting for their new experience. Some of those calibers can even be assigned to different positions or can receive job shadowing with senior leaders and more development programs to further develop their skills and enhance their performance.

Reaping the Fruits

Maha F. Attia, Vice Head of the Technical Office at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, said that the program has already started bearing and reaping its fruits. She explained that the main purpose behind the Middle Management Program was to create a pool of qualified candidates and further develop their skills to prepare them to take on leadership positions in the future. “Since a lot of the candidates finished their programs, we can see the change in their ideas, spirit, overall character and the way business is done. Being exposed to international work environments away from their comfort zone and abiding by international standards will surely be reflected on their daily work and thus benefit the whole sector in a short period of time,” Attia observed.

She also explained how she thinks these candidates will be the change agents in the future, as they are now acting as agents in different companies to help the sector continue its modernization journey that was started in mid-2016. “They are spreading the knowledge and skills they were exposed to during their development program and by time, this will enhance the overall sector culture. We are currently evaluating their acquired skills and strengths to fully benefit the sector as a whole,” Attia said.

“Overall the candidates were impressed with the full process from the starting point. They were very excited to engage in such new development program. They believed in this program’s core values, which are transparency, diversity and giving an equal opportunity for everyone. Now I feel that they are more loyal to the sector and trust in our aim to invest in the human asset and develop their skills,” Atef commented.

He further said that building a network with high-level executives in IOCs will allow the candidates to be exposed to new experiences abroad and on-the-job trainings in the most reputable international organizations that polish their skills.

Wheels Beginning to Turn

Eman Wafy, the Program Leader, has disclosed where the program has reached so far. According to Wafy, 45 of fast-track candidates have just finished their capacity building and job shadowing programs conducted in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and the UAE, which were sponsored by BP, Baker Hughes, and Kuwait Energy, while 15 candidates are still participating in their programs in the US, UK, and Italy, which were sponsored by Eni and Apache.

Moreover, 20 candidates finished their three months’ local program sponsored by Halliburton and top candidates will start their abroad program in the US next month. Other abroad job shadowing programs, which are sponsored by Schlumberger, Saipem, Total, Shell, and Lukoil are under development. The 141 managerial track candidates have finished a two-month leadership training program at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham), which was sponsored by Exxon Mobil, Schlumberger and Apache.

As for the 160 technical track candidates, they are currently participating in a two-month managerial training at the American University in Cairo (AUC), which is sponsored by Shell. Meanwhile, 37 other candidates from exploration and drilling streams participated in a five-week technical training at Schlumberger.

The Fundamentals

“All capacity building programs are designed as an eye-opener and refresher to create a new adaptive mind set with three main objectives: How to become a change-agent? How to become a better leader? How to develop a strategic focus?” Wafy said.

She indicated that the programs adopted different capacity building tools such as business schools’ selective courses, coaching, and mentorship; with a main focus on job training and secondment in real job shadowing assignments in different international oil companies (IOCs) covering all the oil and gas value chain.

Topics like corporate governance, emotional intelligence, strategy formulation and execution, stakeholder management, and leading change were the main ingredients in all programs. In addition, all programs are followed by innovative projects to apply all the gained knowledge in the workplace.

Overcoming Challenges

With that being said, being part of a fresh program offers a fresh perspective for all its challenges as well as solutions. According to Wael Atef, Finance and Economic Affair General Manager at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, working on the Middle Management Program exposed the team on board to a myriad of challenges. Convincing the candidates that the program was not a hoax was challenging at first, Atef said, as the transparency of the program made it seem too good to be true. The selection procedures were unlike others that are usually tainted with bureaucracy. The candidates were chosen based on assessments and not any personal recommendations, which ironically left room for skepticism.

However, the downside of it was the time aspect. Atef pointed out that as the process was all manual, it required so much time to ensure that the screening, selection and results were free from any manual error. “Since we wanted to ensure transparency throughout the whole process, we left it to the IOCs to choose the candidates themselves, which also took extra time. All these challenges were taken into consideration and will allow the process in the future rounds to be faster and smoother making use of digital technology,” Atef remarked.

On Being Sustainable

To guarantee sustainability, Mobarez believes that collaboration is the key. The ministry is working closely with several IOCs to ensure they are a major part of this development program. “We are creating a fully integrated HR system to ensure highly motivated and qualified candidates across all the sector,” he said, adding that this will be a win-win situation to develop a new generation of qualified calibers seeking a common goal.

“The first experience is always the most difficult one. There are many challenges that we are working hard to overcome to guarantee a fully automated and smooth process to continue for years to come,” Mobarez mentioned.

Noureldin ensured that the Middle Management Program is an ongoing development process that will continue for many years to come. He added that “We are currently preparing for the second round of the program. In addition, the IOCs’ support will continue as we will sign a number of agreements with them during EGYPS to secure several rounds of development programs over the next three years.”

A Better Future

From the IOCs standpoint, all companies gave positive feedback and were extremely impressed, Attia clarified, adding that IOCs consider it as a win-win situation where they were excited to be involved in developing their skills. “We received further commitments from several IOCs to sustain these development programs and engage in the future rounds to come. We are also building up on all the evaluations that were done and the gap analysis identified to further develop their skills and make use of them in different fields in the sector,” Attia said.

On the other hand, Noureldin concluded that “looking broadly on the industry level, I believe such development programs will provide a lot to our sector. Our vision is to enhance the sector performance focusing on efficiency, creativity and innovation as well as to contribute more to Egypt’s economy. This will happen only through the presence of highly qualified caliber capable of adapting to any change and leading the future of the sector. These programs are the optimal solution to expose our youth to international standards and advanced work environment to enhance their skills,” he concluded.