Cynthia Kaplan
Delta Top Talent
View from the Top

Cultural Fit as Important as Leadership Skills

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 13:48

Q: What differentiates Delta Top Talent’s service offering to the Mexican oil and gas industry from its competitors?

A: We are different in that we are part of IIC Partners, which is made up of HR companies operating in the oil and gas industry worldwide. All the members share a common database of executives in the energy sector, and collaborate through monthly online meetings to help each other bring in business. We research the market and do a mapping strategy to help our clients find the best candidate, and our main competitive advantage is our indepth research methodology. Our specialist researcher looks for profiles that most closely match a client’s needs, the project leader then carries out phone interviews to make sure that a candidate’s characteristics match the checklist given by our clients, and finally, I carry out an interview with each executive to look for cultural fit and leadership competencies. Another differentiator is that we share information with our clients on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. By doing so, we help them refine the parameters of the position. Finally, we possess a highly-recognized tool called Hogan Leadership Assessment, which helps us identify not only the leadership potential of the candidate but also their cultural fit. This tool is used more for organizational development and team building than as a selection tool.

Q: How important is the oil and gas industry to Delta Top Talent’s revenue?

A: Our involvement in the oil and gas industry has increased by over 50% in the last few years and it now accounts for around 15-20% of our revenue. This is only set to increase. Candidates with relevant experience as well as with leadership competencies or technical skills will be in demand after the Energy Reform. During the next four years, there will be a shortage of 135,000 technical and professional people in the industry and 20% of these will be in management and leadership roles. However, while we estimate one in ten of these positions will be filled by foreigners, Delta Top Talent is trying to attract Mexican candidates with international work experience back to Mexico. Most candidates I have interviewed in such a position are excited about the Energy Reform, they want to return and help build something in their country.

Q: Beyond salaries, what other incentives will executives look for from companies entering the Mexican oil and gas market?

A: Executives will look for additional advantages offered by specific companies. In terms of growth, a big advantage comes from working in a joint venture between a Mexican company and a foreign partner. Such a setup allows executives to grow quickly, and find themselves reporting directly to a country manager. Those types of things are valuable to them. In addition, oil and gas companies must take steps to ensure staff retention. Companies have to be very savvy at identifying candidates who would fit into their culture and are in search of careers, not jobs. When candidates want to make a difference, money is not the most important thing.

Q: What is your strategy to face the need for talent that will arise as the number of operators and service companies in Mexico increases?

A: There will be a war for talent as a shortage of professionals becomes acute. It is said that around 36,000 people will be retiring from PEMEX and CFE in the next few years. Unfortunately, they leave with such huge financial packages that most of them will not want to continue working. Additionally, few of them speak fluent English, preventing them from getting involved in international projects. Executives who combine the engineering background, cultural intelligence, flexibility, and adaptability to work in multicultural environments will remain in demand.

Q: How is the Mexican industry, both in the public and private sector, preparing to face this shortage?

A: International companies are actively preparing for this. They are hiring young Mexicans early and sending them to the US or Canada for six months to a year to be trained. Additionally, the government is offering 60,000 scholarships for energy related studies at various levels. Moreover, Fulbright scholarships are also focusing on engineering graduates and are placing more emphasis on STEM programs. Furthermore, more partnerships are arising between local and foreign universities to do joint research and exchange professors. Both the public and the private sector are starting to generate new talent.