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.
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
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
"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,"
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.