By Nataša Kubíková
Schlumberger launched its EEG Transformation Town Hall on 15th of January in a glamorous style, marking the start of a new era that is symbolized by a change towards efficiency. The one-day event took place at the company’s brand new eco-friendly Egypt Center of Efficiency in 6th of October district of Cairo, Schlumberger’s EGP 1 billion investment, which will be officially inaugurated in the second quarter of 2017.
Through the event, Schlumberger has again demonstrated that a close communication between the top management and employees is the best practice to secure future success for the company. More than 600 employees had an opportunity to share their thoughts about Schlumberger’s Transformation program and shake hands with the company’s top executives President for Middle East and Asia, Hatem Soliman, Egypt & East Mediterranean Vice-President and General Manager, Hussein Fouad El Ghazzawy, and Continuous Performance Improvement Manager (CPI) for Egypt, South Sudan & East Mediterranean (EEG), Mohamed Helal, who also moderated the event.
Towards the Best-Run Company Profile
Schlumberger has no smaller vision than “to become the best-run company, not only in the oil and gas industry, but in the world,” confidently stated VP & GM El Ghazzawy. With this in mind, the company has launched an ongoing Transformation plan, with some new elements being incorporated into the scheme as of this year.
In the opening speech, Hussein El Ghazzawy introduced the big picture of the Transformation, which is to be achieved through a focus on Efficiency, Reliability and Integration of Technologies, and by “creating a value for our customers that only WE can deliver.” In the view of Hatem Soliman, “Transformation is not only about what we do, but how we can do it better. It is about Efficiency, Utilizing the best of our people, Delivering up to our clients’ expectations, and to keep improving.” In other words, as El Ghazzawy continued: “We have to turn our size into a competitive strength.”
“We were fortunate that we have started our Transformation journey eight years ago and we are now in a better position compared to others because we have agility and flexibility to react to the change in the market environment,” said VP El Ghazzawy. And, as Hatem Soliman added in an interview with Egypt Oil&Gas, Schlumberger “wants to achieve certain targets by 2020. However, Transformation is a complex process, because “you know where you start, but there is no end.” “It is a continuous journey.”
Ambitious Transformation Scheme
In the heart of Schlumberger’s Transformation scheme stands the Customer. This entails that the company is aiming for “Efficiency, Reliability, and Integration to be the most cost-effective for our client,” reiterated El Ghazzawy. In order to achieve this goal, Schlumberger is seeking to enhance its business workflow through six elements: Sales Planning, Operational Planning, Product and Service Delivery, Technology Lifecycle Management, Support Platform, and Research, Engineering Manufacturing.
For each of these elements, as VP & GM Hussein El Ghazzawy emphasized, the company has five Transformation goals that are to significantly improve operational reliability tenfold, reduce working capital by 25%, expand people’s productivity by 20%, secure 100% asset utilization, and optimize unit support costs by 10%.
He further elaborated on the diagram saying that increasing productivity does not equal to more work for the employees, but rather translates into a better life-work balance for them. Similarly, the enhanced workflow in the field comes down to centralizing assets and maintenance in a way that will allow a more effective distribution of the tools across different sites as needed with a help of a regional distribution hub. “This will make us more competitive and we will be able to transfer that advantage to our clients,” explained El Ghazzawy.
Schlumberger’s Transformation scheme is a multiannual program with the current 3-year plan, which will necessarily require a well-developed change management plan. In this regard, the company relies on the already established Schlumberger Change Leadership Framework (SCLF). In line with that, Schlumberger runs a ‘Leading Change’ training program that focuses on both the professional and personal aspects of change management. “The personal side of coping with the change” must be an integrated part of the training, as Mohamed Helal, CPI Manager, told Egypt Oil&Gas. After the training, the attendees become so called “change agents” in the company who are to spread the word around and help others build upon the acquired skills and knowledge. “On the professional side, within the given overall timeframe of 10 years from 2010 to 2020, we have a three-year plan [to follow], where we can create a better structured program during this period,” Helal explained. Schlumberger has thus developed a thriving scheme to manage change within the company. The aim is to consistently “align our team, engage and empower our employees, manage the processes, monitor the implementation stages, and continuously improve our performance,” stated Vice-President El Ghazzawy.
The Transformation program is to be implemented with the help of Field Deployment Organization, which is basically a team of people who guide the processes to ensure that the changes are developed accordingly in each specific geography of the company. An upgraded version of the Transformation program includes a digital toolbox, through which the company can track progress, but not only in the current location, but also in other Schlumberger’s branches across the entire world.
Basically, El Ghazzawy stated, “the industry needs to change its business model to be able to cope with the shifting environment.” “Although the recent downturn has shown that the industry is resilient,” the companies need to prepare for the change. In his view, the key strategy is to improve internal performance, technology systems that would reflect on company’s ability to innovative and integrate, and the business model that would encourage closer collaboration with customers.
Transformation Benefits for Employees
And what is there for each of Schlumberger’s employees that the Transformation promises? While some of the benefits will be visible presently, others will be delivered in the near future, noted the company’s VP and General Manager, El Ghazzawy.
As of now, people working for Schlumberger will gain from new training schemes as the company is targeting “multi-skilling” its employees. While they develop new skills and gain cross-segment experience, their career opportunities necessarily boost. Furthermore, the management thus seeks to provide for their people a better work-life balance with more predictable working schedules. As a result come increased job satisfaction and greater professionalism. Through this process, Schlumberger displays its dedication to its employees.
Indeed, Schlumberger is Transforming to a new mode of operation. As El Ghazzawy put it: “We are changing the mindset, we are challenging the status quo, we are changing the way in which we are doing business, we are changing the way in which we are working.” Yet, for the company to do well in this Transformative endeavor towards efficiency, there are some basic requirements for each and every one. The Schlumberger Triangle of Success calls for an open mind, right decisions every time and everywhere, and a joint team effort to achieve all the envisioned goals. For the company’s top manager, Hussein El Ghazzawy, the recipe is clear and simple. “We, each of you, all of us as a team, we will drive the change and Transformation.”
To showcase the benefits of the change, Schlumberger invited an inspirational guest speaker, who was an 18 years old cyclist, Yassin El Zoghby. Yassin had lost his left leg at the age of 11 when a boat hit him while he was snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh. Ever since he was faced with the reality of a handicapped person, a change that carves into a teenager’s soul, but Yassin, after many months in a hospital, courageously decided to learn to Transform this into his advantage. Six years after the accident, Yassin was one of several students that completed a cycling race from Cairo to Ain Sokhna, this time with an artificial leg. To mark his achievements, a cheering audience and Schlumberger President, Hatem Soliman, awarded Yassin El Zoghby a commemorative prize.
Another extraordinary story of how Transformation and change can turn into positive achievements was told about Prof. Magdi Yacoub, a surgeon, who instead of retiring opted for starting a new hospital in Aswan. He established a top-notch facility, where he treats patients from the neighborhood for free. His dream was to do something different and through this project Prof. Yacoub accomplished it, even at the age of above 80 years. Attracted by his inspirational example, Schlumberger has partnered with Prof. Magdi Yacoub to create a new state-of-the-art city in Aswan that will be powered by solar panels and it will have state-of-the-art school and clinic. “We hope that the entire oil and gas sector will open partnership with him,” said Mohamed Helal, CPI Manager. The example of the professor is “an example to go an extra mile to make a Transformation that will be successful,” Helal added. Schlumberger and Magdi Yacoub Foundation will hopefully translate into a flourishing partnership.
Debating Complexities in Open Environment
At a following panel discussion with Hussein Fouad El Ghazzawy and Hatem Soliman, Schlumberger welcomed a special guest of the event, Apache’s Vice-President and General Manager, David Chi, who shared his views on the Transformation initiatives in his company. The panelists also gave a large space for questions and comments from the audience of Schlumberger employees, who openly voiced their concerns and sought solutions to the emerged complexities that such a Transformation presents.
At the start of the debate, Schlumberger President, Hatem Soliman remembered contributions of the company’s previous CEOs and the legacies of some of them, whose goal was for instance to “consolidate efforts into growing oil service part of Schlumberger” and “to create a Transformation system” within the company aiming for better performance and higher efficiency that would help to withstand the worldwide competition. Soliman thus highlighted the urgent need of Transformation for the future success and a sustainable survival in the changing market. “Doing a good job only today may not be enough,” instead one needs to be aware of the changes in the environment and one’s own limitations to be able to prepare for what future may bring.
David Chi, Vice-President of Apache, shared his company’s formula for success. As he stressed, Apache has excelled in two things. The first one is “to get things done” and to do them “faster and better.” Another element that the company aims for is “the mindset of the owner,” which implies to “make the right decisions” as if for one’s own company.
As David Chi further acknowledged, Apache’s success is not an isolated experience, indeed, the company has grown to the largest oil producer in Egypt, but “we cannot do that without the support of companies like Schlumberger.” It is therefore important, David Chi continued, to engage with a client to gain a win-win partnership. Even in an environment with less abundant resources, efficiency can create higher profit margin. Even though many companies want to drive down their costs, it is a key to recognize that “the cost is not the only side of the equation.” In fact, Chi further explained, “the equation is really where we can create more value.” Therefore, “if you can provide a solution that actually has more value, even though on service it may cost more,” Schlumberger’s clients will be open to get involved. “That is the only way that cooperation can have a long lasting success,” concluded Apache’s VP.
Schlumberger Engages Its Employees
As a part of the program, Schlumberger presented finalists of a company’s competition announced in November, when in a call, the company inspired its employees to present their understanding and success stories of Transformation from the field, in their respective locations or segments. The company had selected four final runners and presented the four videos at the event for a public voting.
The screened videos again showed where Schlumberger has already achieved success. Across the company’s divisions employees have managed to enhance Productivity and Efficiency in performance, deliver Asset Utilization improvements, build on cross-segment training and multi-skilling for turbo drillers and equipment operators, and much more.
In the final part of the program, participants were introduced to six booths, each representing the six different areas of Transformation, where they were informed in more details about all aspects of the change that Schlumberger is currently materializing. It is beyond any doubt that the top management and the company’s employees are in unison regarding the ultimate target of the company, the Customer.
Schlumberger top executives’ engagement with company’s employees and their interaction from the audience as well as through creative video competition have demonstrated that the company has reached an exceptional level of an integrated team work. This clearly proves that Schlumberger is indeed a company that has indisputable agility to cope with rapid business growth, most visibly thanks to its dedicated, innovative, and engaged employees that are cooperating with top executives in a harmonious synergy.