A FORMER Norman Broadbent director, Jon Glesinger, has launched a radically different people business dedicated to harnessing the expertise of people who have retired from the oil&gas patch.
The premise behind setting up Expert Alumni is based on the fact that the upstream oil&gas population is ageing – this has been well known for a considerable time.
Glesinger has been quietly developing the idea for some years. Initially, he roped in David Bull and, for a time, Iain Murray, both formerly senior figures at the UK Consulate in Houston and who have also worked with Norman Broadbent.
“Six or seven years ago, there was little if any talk about the fact that, although there was much talk that the industry’s population was ageing, there was very little serious discussion about the subject,” Glesinger told Energy.
“Now we face a situation where, over the next five to 10 years, up to half the offshore industry’s population will reach retirement age.
“That’s a different problem than the skills crisis about which a lot is now being done. However, we do still have a generation gap in the sector and it’s very clear.”
Upstream oil&gas tends to be a sector where people have been able to enjoy pretty healthy incomes over a long period of time and many are ready to take up retirement – but preferably an active one.
According to Glesinger, that means they will probably want to re-engage in some kind of work, be it for financial or social reasons, or simply personal gratification. And that is the cue for newly forged Expert Alumni.
But how will it work?
“What we’ve set about doing with Expert Alumni is to provide a format that has been developed specifically for the needs of its members, who will be the retiring population of the sector,” said Glesinger.
“This will carry details of their experience, personal preferences and desires, such as where they do/do not wish to work and when. Many will be seeking a balance between offering their experience and spending time with their family and perhaps grandchildren, an aspect many will have missed out on over the years due to the demands of their careers.
“We will facilitate and we’re building some very powerful technology to enable profiling against client needs and member needs as well.”
Whether they realise it or not, most companies have alumni. Moreover, a few keep in touch with their former employer, and vice versa, and some do a bit of ad hoc consultancy. But that’s about the extent of it. There is hardly a company that has a formalised alumni network to tap into for expertise – wisdom even.
“We’re working on two sides of the equation. One is to link directly with members, gauging their needs and handling their requirements appropriately.
“We’re obviously going to communicate proactively with them in accordance with their needs and desires. We’re also working with a number of associations, societies, institutes and other organisations that have specific capabilities and points of interest, such as ongoing training, provision of accreditation for mentoring.
“Indeed, we see mentoring as a very important part of the profile of people who opt to be pulled back into the system, partly to share their experience with generation Y, the upcoming young professionals who don’t want to be held up by the guys well up the ladder and who may be approaching retirement.
“I see us working with companies in order to purposefully recapture their people information. So one side of our business is facilitating the return of retirees to the workforce on a full or part-time basis … predominantly multiple part-time positions. But also we’re working with companies that use the same technology that allows us to match … job profile … task profile … against the profile of an individual.”
Glesinger said Expert Alumni would also offer clients the option of using variants of the core system developed by the firm themselves.
“They would then have the ability to record and store data on people retiring and keep it up to date themselves. Think that’s one of the key issues … the power of continued connectivity. You essentially need to put it into the hands of the people who are leaving rather than HR departments, who are not, in any case, set up to chase around individuals who have left on the off-chance that they may want to come back.”
Losing touch is the norm. But Glesinger considers Aberdeen to be a special case where many people do stay in contact reasonably well.
However, Expert Alumni is not purely focused around retirement. It could be used to keep tabs on people bulldozed out the door, perhaps at a time of recession such as the North Sea experienced in the late-1990s.
The level of interest in Expert Alumni is said to be huge. Among organisations engaged are The Robert Gordon University with regard to ongoing professional training, specifically mentoring and accreditation, and the Energy Institute. Talks are also in train with at least one of the oil majors.