ITEM: Geoscientists are included among the top 25 jobs for 2005,
according to Fast Company, which draws on the work of the Bureau
of Labor Statistics and an innovative expert to tap the top jobs.
Salary prospects are rated “above average.”
newcomers will find the welcome mat in place at the door to many
oil and gas companies. In fact, some of the more aggressive firms
are going to unusual lengths not just to attract new hires but to
hold on to the current crop of valued employees -- while simultaneously
growing the value of the business.
this, they are coming up with some creative incentives -- some of
which venture a little more out of the mainstream than others.
none is more unusual than the 2005 Employee Volvo Challenge announced
by ATP Oil & Gas Corp. via a press release late last year.
itself is pretty straightforward: Hit specified reserves replacement
and production targets, and all 50 or so employees -- that’s right,
every one -- will receive a 2006 Volvo S60.
As if the
car isn’t enough, there’s an added carrot: Each employee will accept
vehicle delivery in Sweden under the Volvo Overseas Delivery Plan,
provided measurable group goals relating to performance of the U.S.
arm of the company and its U.K. and Netherlands subsidiaries are
the powers-that-be have defined some formidable targets:
Complete a number of projects in the North Sea and the Gulf of
Mexico’s OCS and Mississippi Canyon.
of reserves to replace production by 200 percent.
(despite well decline rates) a 2005 overall company production
“exit rate” of 160 MMcf per day – about double 2004 numbers.
are ambitious, but they are achievable, and all the employees recognize
this,” said Paul Bulmahn, chairman and president of ATP. “There’s
great morale and a lot of energy and enthusiasm inside the company
for meeting these targets, and we’re on track at this point.
meet the targets, we will have doubled our company’s production
-- production it took 14 years to build,” Bulmahn said. “That’s
huge, and that’s where we expect to be in the spring of 2006.
will have been transformed, and I wanted every employee to personally
realize something they could bite, something they could taste --
I wanted everyone to feel a part of that big jump.”
Corp. is another devotee of employee incentives/initiatives. The
company has been rewarding its employees for growth of the company’s
stock via a plan set in place about 10 years ago.
are in the form of stock grants, making each employee a part-owner
of the company.
kicked off in 1996 with a “60 by ‘99” program, according to Tony
Lentini, vice president of public and international affairs at Apache.
Then trading at $30, the goal at the time was to elevate the stock
price to $60 by 1999.
it by a tad when the shares failed to hit $60 until early in 2000,
but all was not lost. Although the executives received nothing,
Lentini noted middle managers and their subordinates received options
ranging from 450 shares to several thousands of shares.
next launched a three-pronged “120 by 2004” program in 2000. When
adjusted for stock dividends and a 2-for-1 stock split, the three
target stock prices broke out to $43.29, $51.95 and $77.92 -- the
deal was the shares had to trade at the target level for 10 out
of 30 consecutive market days.
target was reached in April 2004, with 90 percent of the awards
going out to non-executive employees. Upon reaching the second target
in October, executives received 3x their salary, the second tier
1.5x salary and the third tier 3/4x salary.
noted the program doubled Apache’s market capitalization, which
soared to $18 billion, up from $9 billion. Shareholders will vote
on the newest proposed plan -- “108 by 2008” -- during the upcoming
annual company meeting this month (May).
is in sync with Bulmahn with the notion that it’s important that
every employee realizes he or she is part of the team, and it’s
the team that performs.
“If a job
isn’t important enough to incentivize, you shouldn’t have that job,”
Lentini said. “Every job is important to the overall mix, and if
everyone pulls together you can accomplish big things.
walk around the company any day and ask any employee what the stock
price is and they know -- it’s in alignment with shareholders, and
that’s the big thing.”
the incentives, Apache has had an internship program in place for
several years, which includes a mentoring program.
benefits both attracting and keeping young people,” Lentini said,
“and also teaching us how to better delegate, which is always good.
This program in combination with the incentives is really good not
just as a retention tool, but they’re both motivational tools.”
and motivational programs can go far to retain current employees
and attract newcomers, i.e., the student fresh out of academia armed
with a brand new degree, they can’t attract what’s not there --
and the numbers in the geosciences are not encouraging.
the Louisiana State University (LSU) geology department -- where
companies used to scramble to be first in line to interview hordes
of graduating students -- doesn’t have a host of new students knocking
on the entry door.
a slight increase in undergraduate enrollment, and the graduate
level has held steady over the last few years,” said Laurie Anderson,
geology department chairman. “A pattern we have seen at the graduate
level is an increase in the quality of applicants.”
the department has put some initiatives in place to work at recruitment
of more students into the geosciences, both undergraduate and graduate
these is the Opportunity to Enhance Diversity in Geosciences, sponsored
by the National Science Foundation.
a consortium with nine schools in the region that are minority-serving
institutions,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to tap the student population
there where there are some very good science programs, and we’re
working to introduce students to geosciences through a junior level
summer course that’s partially a field experience.
coupled with the opportunity to spend time in their college senior
year working either with LSU folks or faculty at their home institutions
on a geology-related senior project,” Anderson said. “And we have
some money for stipends for some masters and Ph.D students.
to recruit at the undergrad level in order for them to complete
degrees at their home institutions and recruit them into graduate
programs in geology.”
effort currently under way in the LSU department is the Applied
Depositional Geosystems, which is targeted toward M.S. degree candidates.
students are in a regular M.S. program, but they take a concentrated
curriculum and conduct a thesis research effort focused on the oil
and gas industry. Funding for the program currently originates from
Unocal, Dominion, Shell, ChevronTexaco and LSU alumnus Clarence
Cazelot, according to Anderson.
provides fellowships for highly qualified M.S. students. It also
provides funds for program development, including short courses,
travel support and research support for students in the program.
has started to develop a third program more focused at the Ph.D
level, looking at alluvial deltaic systems.
trying to take advantage of what we’re seeing in the demographics
to try to get more students into the geosciences,” Anderson said.
“Ultimately, it benefits both us and future employers.”
to attract new geoscience majors also are in place at the Jackson
School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, where enrollment
has remained fairly steady over the last several years, according
to Clark Wilson, chairman of the geological sciences department.
A new program
called Geoforce -- with company sponsorship -- is designed to attract
prospective majors. It’s structured to reach them early on, targeting
middle school students at the eighth grade level.
them in for a summer camp type experience for a week,” Wilson said.
“We’ll follow this group for three-four years through high school,
each summer having a different earth science experience with field
trips and other things.”
noted they will focus their immediate concern about raising the
number of majors by looking at students already enrolled at UT.
“We want to make sure they’re aware of what the opportunities are,”
Chairs, which are occupied by noted experts, are a powerful tool
to attract top students.
received private donations toward establishing two new endowed Chairs
in addition to the existing McCord Chair, which is petroleum geology.
likely try to concentrate these chairs in an area where we can build
strength in a core area,” Anderson said. “For LSU, that’s been in
a soft rock kind of applied area -- petroleum related.”