Gazprom International Training | Gazprom International
Gazprom International Training
Gazprom International Training
As Gazprom International has grown, it has consistently met the challenge of maintaining a high level of cooperation and effective work styles among many different employees around the world. In order to do this, we created and launched Gazprom International Training B.V. to manage and organise corporate training sessions and seminars in various countries throughout the world that include employees from different Gazprom International structural divisions. Our goal with these training sessions is to significantly increase the number of employees who possess certificates and international diplomas.
Gazprom International is also planning global corporate measures aimed at improving mutual understanding and employee cooperation through team building and the attainment of common employee and division goals and objectives. An example of this would be management group trips to specialty companies in the United States to learn about new engineering and management technologies in exploration projects and production of hydrocarbons.
Interview with Bernard van Polanen, Managing Director of Gazprom International Training B.V.
Mr.Polanen, you recently became head of the new business entity within Gazprom International, whose mission is training, professional development and retraining of personnel. Could you tell us what kind of an organisation it is and how it became a reality?
It was decided in May of last year to explore the possibility of holding regular training sessions for employees of Gazprom International owned companies. After the meeting of the Board of Directors at which this was decided, we conducted the preparatory work to set up a specialised training centre. In August, we successfully established it. The main objective of the centre is to help the business to impove performance. The center educates and motivates employees to ensure that we in Gazprom International develop a fully sage and competent workforce which will meet demands of current and future operational activities.
Have you taken into consideration international experience available in this area?
Both prior to and after the establishment of Gazprom International Training, we conducted research of the market and visited schools and institutes who specialise in occupational health and safety. For example, we visited several educational institutions of this kind in Rotterdam, and frankly, were quite surprised at how flexibly these schools responded to our proposals to carry out training on their premises. They were ready to discuss any changes to their programmes to fully meet our requirements. And training in the Netherlands is known to be of the highest international standards. All schools, training centres and institutes are OPITO certified (OPITO is the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation. Established over 30 years ago, it currently operates in 32 countries. The organisation has offices in Aberdeen, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and, more recently, in Houston. – Note).
That is, the choice of the Netherlands as the place to set up the training centre is well justified, first of all, from the point of view of the country’s professional profile, right?
Exactly. It is quite well known in the business world that the highest standards of safety are used in the North Sea countries. For example, you simply would not be allowed to work on any drilling platform operating in the North Sea if you do not have the appropriate certificate. Thus, the fact that safety standards here are at the highest level is exactly one of the main reasons why we established the training company in the Netherlands.
At the same time, in addition to training on safety, we organise foreign language training. I recently visited a school in Oxford where people come for several weeks or months. By the way, I wish to remind you that this practice had previously taken place in Gazprom Zarubezhneftegaz, and we now plan to resume it – in a systematic manner – but now through the Dutch company instead. The level of training in that school is very high, and my colleagues and I have had the opportunity to make sure it is. Not only do they give lessons, but after lessons they continue to communicate with those under their wardship constantly. That is, they work with them almost around the clock! This impresses agreeably, and quite obviously, helps to achieve excellent results. People who come to this school to learn English really feel comfortable there. I
emphasise this because we all know how often visitors, being away from home, not to mention being in a foreign country, do feel ill at ease, at least initially, when they do not yet speak the language. However, in this school, even beginners do not feel any discomfort. We have chosen schools at the highest quality level, but with a personalized twist to our needs and culture.
So, can we say that your company specialises in organising staff training in the two areas – safety and foreign languages?
Our training company was founded in order to improve the qualitative characteristics of personnel, while teaching staff, as they say, at their "home", i.e. in Gazprom International, and not only in these two areas. This is the first point. The second is: we cannot exclude the possibility that in the foreseeable future, we will be able to provide training not only for employees of Gazprom International, but also for those of the entire Gazprom Group. Our company is located in Amsterdam, where some lessons will also be held. It is our aim to serve all staff in all their learning needs, thus not only safety and languages, but also leadership/management and commercial. Since 1 February, our team has grown by two more people, one of whom was appointed to the position of Director Training & Development. In other words, the scope of his responsibilities includes training and education, as well as expansion of our services and maintaining relevant contacts with departments of companies that are to a greater or lesser extent in need of improving the qualifications of their personnel. He will also constantly monitor the market in order to ensure a level of training that will meet our requirements at the highest international standards.
Could you reveal any secrets of your, so to speak, “ins and outs”?
You must be joking! In general, everything is standardised in our work. For instance, we intend to create a database that will reflect skills, abilities and education level, i.e. the competence of all employees. An objective professional evaluation of everyone will be performed to find out what he/she is really good at and what he/she still has to work on. And his/her manager will be able to quickly understand in which areas and in what specifically this employee needs to be "developed". The database will be a good tool to plan training, because we cannot do this effectively without taking into account the time factor – we must not forget that every employee is still primarily engaged in their main job. Later on, this database will be used to make decisions on promoting employees up the career ladder: it will show who has taken what training and courses and who has qualifications in what and our personnel department will then be able to make recommendations to promote people in the office. The creation of a database like this is a huge task, and of course we will be developing it together with the Human Resources department of Gazprom International. I hope we will manage to do this by the end of this year.
A separate aspect of our work is to promote our services in training and to inform the public of what we do. Yes, we intend to present our activities one way or another from time to time - and not only to external audiences. For instance, one of the tools that we intend to use in the company for this is the Intranet portal via which employees can learn something useful for themselves (from the scope of our work), and, of course, sign up for training. As applications are received, we will be able to check whether an employee has a visa, whether he/she has
undergone a medical examination, and could then invite him/her for training. First, we will be arranging training sessions in Holland and then around the world. At the same time, we certainly plan to certify our training company for compliance with OPITO standard or any other international required standard.
In other words, the company will be engaged in the organisation of training to a greater extent than in the actual provision of training, right?
In principle, we are ready to open our own training centre right now, but for this we need a sufficient amount of work to be done and the continuity of the educational process to be ensured with a certain flow of students. That is, I mean, for instance, that a rate of 10 people per month is obviously not enough. It is more profitable for us to act as the organiser of training sessions and involve a third party to deliver this or that training. will focus at existing training sessions, but also customized for us and also E-Learning offerings. We are in the middle of the employee and the high quality vendor.
Just in case, I will give one more example. Some training sessions require a special pool where people are taught, for example, in how to evacuate from a helicopter that has crashed. Such a pool is a special hydraulic structure, and we certainly do not have that. However, as far as other courses are concerned, we are quite capable of conducting them on our own, even today. What we need in these cases is, in fact, only books, some training materials and, of course, the trainer. This is all we need. At the office next door, for example, we have excellent conference facilities – on two floors.
What kind of qualification (diploma, certificate) will be obtained by people who pass the training with the help of your company (let us put it this way)?
We expect that in the future Gazprom International Training will be able to issue its own training certificates. We have even developed a special logo (Gazprom International Approved Training) which we want to put on our certificates and diplomas. By the way, the OPITO logo will also be there. Thanks to this, our staff will see that they are certified not by some kind of outside organisation but by a company from the Gazprom International Group. In our opinion, this is very important because people have more confidence in the company that they work for, and the company’s authority also increases in their eyes. By the way, two people from our company are taking an English course in Oxford, and the certificate, which they will hopefully obtain, will have our logo on it. SoThus these employees will be certified by both this school and by Gazprom.
And yet, in what other areas will training be conducted in your company?
The third major direction of our future work will be professional training, for instance, training in geology, drilling, etc. However, again, I must reiterate here: one of the most important factors in the effective organisation of training, as is the case with safety, is the number of students. But even in such a situation, there are some advantages for us. For instance, we have held negotiations with a number of schools in Scotland who specialise in the professional development of drillers and found out that we can get significant discounts if we provide a sufficient number of students to them. So an advantage for Gazprom International companies lies
in the fact that, on the one hand, an ever increasing number of their employees will be regularly enhancing their skills and obtaining certification to the highest international standards in the most prestigious educational institutions and, on the other hand, Gazprom will be able to avoid unnecessary expenses. As a result, we can even reach such a low level of pricing that would make it more profitable for companies to enter into contracts with us, rather than directly with a school. Among other things, we have scheduled 20 training courses on safety for this year (for the entire Gazprom International Group).
Now let’s talk about training drillers. They are certified according to IWCF standards (IWCF is the International Well Control Forum based in The Hague, the Netherlands. – Note). The certificates obtained by them, just like many other certificates, need to be renewed periodically. There are many schools throughout the world that conduct training for drillers – both experienced drillers and for those who have not had time to accumulate experience to a proper extent. In other words, I want to say that virtually any employee that works on a rig, at any level of training, can find training courses necessary for their personal training. The range of such schools covers all levels – from beginners up to project manager. At the same time, representatives of management have their own set of training programmes, such as personnel management, negotiating skills, conducting presentations and many more. We can implement most of these programmes on our premises. We do not need much for this either – in fact, we need just a room, a whiteboard and a computer. This is our big advantage.
Another advantage of this format can be the teaching of team building – the skills of creating a tight-knit team capable of functioning as a unit. This is where you once again have a real opportunity to use a very practical reason to gather all your project managers from around the world and conduct this very team building, and they will share their thoughts and fresh ideas with colleagues. In other words, this is not just a course or another training format, but it is also an opportunity, after having brought together those who are not so easy to gather together in one place, to get them acquainted with each other, give them the opportunity to experience partnership together, to unify accumulated knowledge and experience...
By the way, Amsterdam is a very convenient location for this: many routes and roads from different parts of our big world cross here. This is a very open city with a highly developed infrastructure. Guests feel comfortable here – with excellent hotels, transport, communications, etc. Any place is close to us, and we are nearby for all. So, welcome! Thus, if you have an individual training need or a organizational training need, we can help you. Just let us know what you need. In short, we will help you to improve your performance. For any questions and or training needs, please contact: Rob Veersma Director Training & Development Gazprom International Training B.V., Prins Hendriklaan 26, 1075 BD Amsterdam, (+31) 020-30 50 980.