Focus on Leadership: Boyden finding talent for an evolving oil industry

August 30, 2022
Leadership Team Calgary Talent
Robert Travis Boyden 1920x1080

Robert Travis is a managing partner at Boyden.
Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Calgary’s energy industry is renowned for its boom-and-bust cycles. Yet after emerging from a multi-year slump, this most recent boom is different — especially from a management perspective.

“There is a cultural shift going on across the industry, particularly for oil and gas services,” says Robert Travis, managing partner at Boyden.

“Management needs to be conscientious of creating a workplace culture that attracts and retains talent in an industry where skilled workers are in short supply.”

As a top executive search firm in the energy industry, Boyden has in-depth knowledge of the skill sets now required to attract, lead and retain both veteran workers and the next generation of innovators in oil and gas.

One challenge is the industry lost many good workers during the downturn of the 2010s when many industry observers believed US$100 barrels of oil were a thing of the past.

In turn, a lot of highly skilled individuals found work in other industries and are not returning even as opportunities abound in the newly revived industry.

Yet, it was not just low oil prices that have had a deep impact on the industry. COVID-19 also prompted many workers to rethink their career paths. As such, talent is in demand as the industry charts a different, more cautious path amid considerations such as climate change. Workers are different, too, recognizing they have more leverage.

“Corporations used to say things like ‘You’re lucky to have a job,’ and now the script is flipped, where they are saying, ‘We’re lucky to have you,’ ” Travis says. “If an employee is not treated well, that person can find another job opportunity very quickly.”

Simply put, the old ways of management no longer suffice.

Today’s executives not only require expertise in the industry; they need a solid understanding of how to motivate their teams to be at their best without making them feel their worst.

“That old, pound-the-fist-on-the-desk, managing-by-intimidation does not work anymore,” Travis says.

As a result, executive searches have changed, with Boyden now focusing on references from not just candidates’ superiors, but their peers and individuals who worked under them.

“That is a very different read that helps mitigate risk for this new world of work where management is as much about retention as it is about getting the job done,” Travis says.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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