Life is all about taking risks, and taking the right amount of calculated risk is important to success in our various walks of life. In this issue of TWA, we meet with the Vice President of Personnel of one of the most prominent companies in the oil and gas industry. He gives us firsthand information on the risks and challenges involved in reaching your life’s goals and making it big, all from a person who has made it to the top of our industry. —Tony Thomas, TWA Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Tournadre has taken a lot of risks in his career since he joined Schlumberger in April 1991. When asked about the highlights and lowlights of his career, he says that people have a tendency after a while to forget the lowlights and remember only the good news. Some of the highlights in his life are the first time he moved out of his country—definitely a new experience for him and his family. Then there was this lifetime experience: a 3-year assignment in a Russian company, a firsthand immersion in the post-Soviet environment. His move into operations was also a risky assignment, because he had no prior line-management experience. Finally, he was nominated for the position of Vice President of Personnel, which he holds today.
In terms of lowlights, Tournadre recalls the time he had an assignment in west Africa as a personnel manager. He was supposed to move with his family (including a newborn baby) to a place where the infrastructures were simply not there. But, as he states, the tough times one tends to forget, remembering only the good times.
Tournadre highly recommends a career in the E&P industry. The industry is at that stage where the sky is the only limit and there are lots of challenges and opportunities, he says. Now is the best time to join the industry. Tournadre also adds that Schlumberger offers fantastic access and exposure to technology and diversity and is truly global.
In Schlumberger, recruitment is mostly focused on freshly graduated engineering students from universities. By exposing them to technologies and giving them responsibilities, Schlumberger accelerates the training of their new recruits and exposes them to challenges and extra responsibilities; in that process, they grow and rise in the organization. Schlumberger does recruit midcareer personnel for specialized fields that require experience and requires that they act as mentors to the young hires.
If you want something to happen, you need to want it badly and be motivated to make it happen, he says. There is no recipe for success—it is very much driven by hard work, the results you produce, and your own individual motivation. When asked what kind of personnel the industry is seeking—generalists or specialists—Tournadre was prompt to reply: both. The industry requires technical experts, but at the same time, it also requires generalists who can move between jobs and do multiple functions.
Tournadre prefers to call people major strengths, not assets. We build assets, we amortize, transfer or retire them, but we do not ask them their opinion on anything, he says. Companies have to learn how to get input from the lower levels and demonstrate respect and care through investments in people development and in safety. Loyalty pays, he adds. At Schlumberger, training, stretching people, stress, and hard work always will be involved, Tournadre says, because working hard in Schlumberger is part of success.
He stresses that SPE and other technical societies are an excellent platform to share knowledge on both technical and nontechnical topics. And he believes that SPE and other technical societies can improve and reach greater heights if they can motivate masses of the younger generation to join in and contribute to activities and also inspire students from universities to join the oil and gas industry.
So when asked if there is a checklist or recipe for success, he stresses again that there is no magic formula. But if there was such a list, hard work, integrity, making sacrifices, and professionalism definitely would be featured on it. Finally, his recommendation for young professionals in the oil and gas industry is to be ambitious, set your own goals, and go after them without compromising. This is a golden period for the industry in which the sky is the only limit; define what success means to you and go for it.
For our latest issue, we fly to France to meet up with David Tournadre, Vice President of Personnel at Schlumberger. He is responsible for defining and implementing HR strategy through what have been some challenging times for both the company and the industry. After a few visible divestitures in 2003 and 2004, Schlumberger is now a pure oilfield services company experiencing unprecedented growth.
After joining Schlumberger in 1991, Tournadre held various HR positions in five different countries. From manufacturing to R&D to operations, he has been exposed to various environments including that of Russian oil and gas giant Yukos, where he spent 3 years as part of an agreement with Schlumberger. Tournadre also held a general management role as Operations Manager for Wireline, one of Schlumberger’s seven technology segments, for Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Tournadre’s wife, Christine, and their children, Maelle and Leo, have been part of the adventure from the beginning, studying and working where the family has lived. These experiences have provided them with invaluable firsthand experience in dual career management and international mobility. Tournadre earned a master’s degree from the Inst. Supérieur de Gestion in 1990 with a major in organizational development.