Hess: Preparing for the Future

As part of a continuing enterprise-wide development program for leaders – one of the Hess 2020 foundation blocks – the company  held Business Essentials Program (BEP) workshops designed to expand the skills and capabilities of experienced mid-level leaders.

“Without strong, well-prepared leaders, we simply won’t be able to live up to our potential and achieve our vision and aspirations for 2020 and beyond,” said Ian Kearney, chief learning and development officer.

Hess learning and development team members worked with Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE) to design a custom program tailored to meet the company’s specific leadership development needs. Participants were nominated for the BEP workshops, and selections made by business unit leadership teams. About 75 people from across the company have completed the program.

Aimed at mid-level leaders responsible for the critical role of translating company strategy into the daily actions that move Hess and its people forward, the BEP recognizes the importance of growing leaders’ capabilities so they can be more effective in their current roles and prepare for greater responsibilities in the future. It is built around a 70/20/10 philosophy of learning (based on the research of Lombardo and Eichinger at the Center for Creative Leadership); that is, 70 percent occurs on the job, 20 percent through coaching and networking and 10 percent from formal classroom education.

BEP participants spend several months analyzing feedback from others about their performance and behaviors leading up to the intense week-long program. At the workshop, participants take part in strategy sessions with Hess senior leaders, attend classes taught by experienced university professors, and participate in business discussions and teambuilding exercises. They receive coaching and support for several months after the workshop and often build extensive informal networks of colleagues from all around the company.

“I have absolutely applied what I learned during the BEP workshop,” said Dale Boardman, senior manager of category management for Global Supply Chain in Houston. “The sessions on personal and collaborative leadership were particularly valuable, and I found the 360-degree feedback I received very revealing and helpful. I’m working on improving my listening skills and on framing things in a way that enables success. I support the leadership style that BEP advocates and think the company will benefit as more people adopt the BEP principles.”

Dave Kennedy, general manager of the Bome Complex in Equatorial Guinea, found value in BEP sessions on financial analysis and business acumen. “The Building Trusted Relationships session was useful and the Pit Crew Challenge was the best team-building exercise I’ve ever experienced; it provided lots of insights on team dynamics that I’ve been able to put into practice,” he said. “I’m getting ready to introduce the elements of a successful development assignment – variety, adversity, diversity and intensity – to my supervisors to help them improve the individual development plans of EG employees.”

The interactive elements of the BEP course appealed to John Deese, director of national accounts for Energy Marketing. “After 14 years in Marketing & Refining, this was the first real opportunity I had to interact with employees from Exploration & Production,” he said. “It was very interesting and valuable to learn about the upstream side of the business and to understand the challenges that E&P employees face.

“Even though there was a non-stop flow of information, there was a lot of give and take that I found very valuable,” Deese continued. “In one exercise we all wrote down leadership issues we were facing and posted them on the wall. Then we went around and wrote our name next to topics on which we felt we had some experience or could be a resource. It really drove home the importance of networking and peer sharing.”

Networking was also a key BEP benefit cited by Greg Cortez, director of Credit Risk Controls in New York. “The mix of people is one of the real benefits of the BEP program,” he said. “It was valuable to me, as a corporate person, to be involved in discussions with people from the businesses and hear directly from them about the challenges and opportunities they face. It was also very valuable to take part in sessions with members of the senior leadership teams.”

Participants heard directly from senior Hess leaders, including Chairman and CEO John Hess and Greg Hill, president Worldwide E&P, who video-conferenced into an evening session during a business trip to Perth, Australia. Other senior executive participants included Chris Baldwin, senior vice president, Energy and Retail Marketing; Larry Ornstein, senior vice president, M&R, Supply and Financial Controls; Tim Goodell, senior vice president and general counsel; and Mykel Ziolo, senior vice president Human Resources.

“Hearing directly from John Hess and other senior leaders was definitely valuable,” Kennedy said. “Their participation showed their support for this program and underscored the company’s commitment to developing leaders. We had good discussions with each of the executives, and it was very interesting to hear their candid thoughts on a wide range of subjects affecting Hess today and in the future.”