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A job well done in Europe

People are a key resource for any business, and big companies go to great lengths to recruit – and keep – the best staff. Schlumberger is a major multinational supplying technical services to the oil and gas industry and information technology services to a wide range of industries. Pierre Bismuth, Vice-President – Personnel and speaker at the FP6 launch conference – explains the firm’s human resources policies.

Pierre Bismuth
Pierre Bismuth

We invest a lot in recruiting a diverse mixture of nationalities, and ensuring a good gender balance," says Bismuth. "In that way the company benefits from the mix of backgrounds, through higher levels of motivation and creativity." Of course, Schlumberger has a head start since the firm is active in around 120 countries, but staff - and the company - actually benefit from this policy long after initial recruitment.

"Our young staff are encouraged to move around to different countries and company units. It gives them great opportunities to experience different environments, so that they rapidly become adaptable and are able to respond flexibly to any challenges that arise," explains Bismuth.

Off to a good start

Schlumberger prefers to recruit young staff direct from universities so that they grow up in the company culture and receive in-house training. "We recognise that the first job is generally the hardest to get," says Bismuth, "so we offer well-motivated graduates that first chance. We train them intensively, including in languages and IT.

"But on the other hand, we are very clear that they should not expect us to employ them throughout their working life. Turnover is good for the business: people need to remain highly motivated throughout their careers. If they want to move we do not discourage them unless we have specific career opportunities for them. When people leave, generally we replace them with someone else inside the company," Bismuth explains.

Close ties

Recruiting staff direct from university courses means that Schlumberger needs very strong links with such institutions. "We have built close relationships with around 200 universities," says Bismuth. "And with 40, we have nominated company executives as ambassadors. They each develop regular contacts with their university to strengthen the relationship." Schlumberger also has wide-ranging research contracts with academic institutions, funding many satellite labs, and each year the firm sponsors some employees to take Masters and MBA degrees.

The one area where Bismuth expresses his disappointment with the university system is that it does not do more to attract female students to engineering disciplines. In France, his own country, he notes that many scientific Grandes écoles have fewer than 15% female students, whereas 50% of the best secondary school students in maths and physics disciplines are female.


last update: 23-01-2003