Guest Commentary: National Oilwell Varco ready for ‘big crew change’

By Pete Miller 

For years, people in and around the oil and gas industry have expressed extreme concern that the industry may not be doing enough to prepare for the inevitable retirement of many of our experienced technical professionals and rig personnel.

While the “Big Crew Change” may create anxiety for some companies, National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has gone to great lengths to attract and develop the next generation of talent that will successfully lead NOV into the future.

Recognizing that an aging workforce was a very real issue, in 2004, we launched our Next Generation Program, which was created to train and develop high-potential university graduates for future leadership positions.

The first year of employment for these participants consists of four rotational assignments providing exposure to NOV’s many global locations and business divisions, and ensuring that each participant receives a well-rounded experience in such capacities as sales, engineering, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, manufacturing, and information systems.

With over 400 program graduates, our past recruits represent over 120 universities worldwide.

In addition to the recruitment of young talent, we have collaborated with various recognized universities to tailor NOV-specific programs designed to more quickly and thoroughly educate and develop young professionals in critical disciplines.

For example, we partnered with:

  • The University of Texas to develop a twelve-month Engineering program which provides participants the skills that they need to correctly identify and quantify market opportunities, as well as the training that they need to then capitalize on those opportunities through the successful development and commercialization of new products.
  • Rice University to create a Manufacturing Leadership program that focuses on leadership, organizational behavior, manufacturing-specific finance, project management, and the latest in process improvement and manufacturing innovation.
  • Rice University to deliver a Finance Leadership program that focuses on advanced accounting concepts, and teaches strategy formulation, leadership, and general management so that participants become more productive and trusted business partners to our operations leaders.
  • Purdue University to build an eight-month Sales Leadership program focused on bringing innovative and integrated solutions to our customers, while simultaneously enhancing participants’ sales, financial, management, and leadership capabilities.

In addition to the above, over the past five years, NOV has also launched new technical colleges in the United States, Brazil, Scotland, Norway, Singapore and South Africa.

At these technical colleges, not only do we train our own personnel to repair and service our equipment; but, we train our customers’ personnel to operate our wide range of drilling equipment. In fact, over the past five years, more than 20,000 customers have attended our colleges and participated in our training programs.

Because of the company’s unwavering commitment to, and continued investment in, the recruitment and development of our future leaders, we are supremely confident that the “Big Crew Change” will not be an issue for NOV.

Pete Miller is CEO of National Oilwell Varco