Energy & Natural Resources

In transitional times, organisations need leaders expert in doing more with less

One thing that is certain in a market sector characterised by uncertainty is the move towards sustainability and clean tech. Increased regulation and a demand for organisations to be more socially responsible in the way they do business is driving innovation and efficiency. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Fukushima disasters have also raised serious questions about safety, with calls for tighter regulation and accountability. Economic and geopolitical volatility continue to pose challenges. In the oil and gas industries, production costs have been escalating whilst prices have been plummeting. Costs have been rising in the mining industry, too. However, demand for minerals and precious metals from big manufacturing countries, like China, remains high – although the international spotlight is on the industry over concerns about working conditions and environmental impact.

In a sector where markets vacillate rapidly, organisations must be flexible and adaptable. Having the right people in place is crucial. Securing the best leadership is perhaps the single most important factor in ensuring a competitive advantage. At Seymour John, we take on our energy partners’ people challenges and make them our own. We help them develop tailored talent strategies aligned with longer-term business objectives, building in flexibility and ensuring leadership continuity and successful, stable succession for continuing evolution and growth, even through the most turbulent periods of uncertainty and change.

Seymour John is a strategic partner for high impact talent management in the following subsectors:

Mining & Metals
Mining & Metals
Globally, mining is still a huge industry. Coal remains one of the world’s biggest sources of energy, whilst industries worldwide continue to rely on the consistent supply of metals and minerals in their manufacturing processes. The mining of rare earth elements, dominated by China over the last decade, is crucial for the high-tech sector. Fluctuating prices, inconsistent regulatory approaches, increasing costs, and demands from the international community for mining to become more environmentally and socially accountable make it a complex and challenging climate in which to operate. However, it is a sector that is growing again, which means demand for the best talent is becoming increasingly competitive.
Today’s leaders must balance the necessity for greater efficiency, productivity and profitability with concerns over safety, viability and the environment. London continues to be a finance, management and governance centre in the sector. In a truly global industry, organisations need executives with skill-sets that go well beyond established operational requirements. As the industry continues to grow, engagement with a range of stakeholders, including local communities in ever-new locations around the world, is a must. Regulatory compliance remains a challenge, especially as it is inconsistent from region to region.


Oil & Gas
Oil & Gas

These have been difficult times for oil and gas companies. Over-production and a drop off in demand have seen oil prices plummet from their $147 high, in 2008. This has been exacerbated by rising offshore costs. At best, the sector is going through a period of consolidation as supply and demand rebalance. Inevitable cutbacks are hitting hard, filtering down to impact on the industry’s services companies, too. Collaborations are helping spread risk, however, and a recent increase in mergers and acquisitions activity would suggest cautious optimism going forward as O&G businesses look to leverage economies of scale. Some of this M&A activity has also been from companies looking to shift focus from production to downstream refined products markets.
Whatever the route, for organisations to prosper, they are looking towards industry innovators to redesign operating models and drive through necessary change. In uncertain times, these exceptional individuals are the difference between success and failure. They are the rare talents that are able to do more with less, possessing the strategic vision and diverse range of competencies necessary to create the kind of lean, agile and efficient businesses with the flexibility needed to sustain growth even when the market is unfavourable.


Energy & CleanTech
Energy & CleanTech

Clean, affordable, renewable: that’s the holy trinity as far as energy consumers are concerned. As demand rises, economies of scale mean costs have been falling, making more established renewables, like wind and solar, increasingly competitive in the mainstream energy market. That said, low oil and gas prices, in recent years, mean providers have had to work even harder to ensure more efficient, cost-effective and consistent supply. Reductions in government incentives, here in the UK, are also posing fresh challenges.
Regulatory compliance and a desire for organisations to operate in more environmentally responsible and progressive ways is driving growth in the clean-tech market. It is a sector that requires leaders with an entrepreneurial edge and the vision to commercialise these innovative technologies. Cut backs in the oil and gas industry mean that some new energy providers have been able to leverage the expertise and experience of traditional energy talent to help them scale up their businesses more quickly. This transfer of talent is filtering down through organisations as demand rises for technically skilled executives who can transfer their proven competencies managing global operations.


Power Generation & Distribution
Power Generation & Distribution

This is a market sector in transition. The challenge for governments and energy suppliers is in the balancing of rising demand, due to global population growth, with the need to reduce their carbon footprints. It is not as simple as switching over from one source of power to another. New energy has its own technologies and huge investment is needed in the creation of new grids and infrastructure to integrate it into the mix. A global collaboration between business, governments and regulatory agencies is needed to drive such change successfully. Huge, complex, protracted and expensive, delivering these kinds of projects on time and within budget requires exceptional talent.
It is not just the power source that is shifting, new technologies are changing the way power is distributed and creating new relationships between consumer and utility. Smart grids and distributed energy are offering utilities more efficient ways of working – microgrids, virtual power plants and community aggregation giving consumers unprecedented choice and control. A new breed of tech-savvy talent is helping progressive utilities to re-imagine their business models and pioneer a new, more efficient, consumer-centric approach to power delivery that is helping maintain healthier margins.

In tandem with our specialist people and change practice, we support our clients to accurately identify and appoint talent at operational levels from critical functional leadership within finance, regulatory, change and technology – including CTOs, CIOs and CISOs, for enhanced digital operations and cybersecurity – to executive level leaders who can address sustainability and geopolitical risk while navigating a complex regulatory environment.

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