By Kelli Ainsworth, Editorial Coordinator
Over her 20 years in human resources in the oil and gas industry, Teresa Scott has worn many hats. “HR is not just one job,” said Ms Scott, currently Human Resources Manager at Nabors Corporate Services. “We’re employee relations and talent acquisition, and we’re strategic partners in the business. It’s a little bit of everything, and the job is never dull.”
When the market returns, for example, HR departments will have their hands full hiring recruiters, developing competitive salary and benefits packages, and developing training programs for new and returning employees.
In the 1980s, when Ms Scott was attending Jackson State University in her home state of Mississippi, most universities didn’t offer human resources degrees. Instead, she pursued a bachelor’s degree in marketing and moved to Houston in 1986 for her first job as a Benefits Specialist at a check verification company.
She stayed in that role for 10 years, during which time Ms Scott took notice of the oil and gas industry and its career-advancing opportunities. By 1996, she had joined Nabors as a Senior Retirement Savings Administrator, responsible for overseeing the company’s 401K and pension plans. In 2003, she was promoted to Benefits Supervisor and began overseeing the company’s employee benefits portfolio.
This is a critical task for drilling contractors that want to retain their rig crews and can be difficult to do when the market is hot. “When demand is up, they have the opportunity to move to different contractors, so they go back and forth,” she said.
To address this challenge from a financial aspect, Ms Scott said, it is HR’s responsibility to stay informed about average market salaries for specific positions. Helping the company to build a strong safety culture and being able to convey that culture to employees is also critical to attracting and retaining talent, she added.
In 2009, Ms Scott moved into operations with Nabors Drilling USA, where she took on the role of HR Supervisor, a decision that she recalls as “one of the best decisions I made. Unless you work in operations, you don’t really understand the oil field. This job gave me an opportunity to work with employees on a day-to-day basis.” By 2013, she had been promoted to HR Manager for the Northern Division, which encompasses North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Northeast and Alaska.
In this role, Ms Scott made it a priority to build a high level of trust with rig employees. This meant visiting rigs on a regular basis – typically two to three each month. “HR can sometimes get a bad rap, so I made sure to build trust with our employees so they felt comfortable coming to HR,” she said. This can have a great impact on a company’s safety culture. When employees feel safe coming to HR, they’re able to share any concerns they have about potentially unsafe practices or behaviors on the rig.
Looking back on her time in the Bakken, she recalled the many challenges that were encountered due to the high levels of activity at the time. First, the majority of the local communities weren’t prepared for the influx of people and activity that came with the shale boom. “Housing was a problem,” she said. “We had to find ways to ensure that if we drilled in those areas, we could house our employees.” In addition to building camps for crew members, Nabors accommodated a 14-days-on and 14-days-off schedule. For employees who couldn’t bring their families due to the lack of local housing, this allowed additional time for visits back home.
In her current role as corporate HR Manager, Ms Scott said she is already preparing for the next upturn. Whenever that may come, drilling contractors will doubtlessly need to reactivate and restaff rigs. Even over the past couple of years since the downturn began, the level of rig automation has increased rapidly. Nabors will have to ensure that new and experienced employees alike are trained for evolving technologies.
At the same time, it will be crucial to find the right staffing mix and ensure that new employees are working alongside experienced employees. “Even though there’s a downturn, we’re still spending money on safety campaigns to make sure our employees are focusing on safety. We need to make sure our experienced employees constantly train new employees on safety.”
In getting ready for the upturn, Nabors restructured last year to maximize efficiencies. As part of that restructuring, the company launched a new vision and values campaign that focuses on becoming the driller of choice when the upturn occurs.
“We plan to do that by leveraging our people and technology to deliver higher levels of performance for our customers,” Ms Scott said.
Safety has always been a core value that Nabors has embraced, promoted and invested in, Ms Scott said. The company has now formally introduced this as a core value to the organization.
“In an industry like oil and gas, priorities may shift – but values never change,” Ms Scott said. “We have used this downturn to make prudent investments that make us a stronger company, better prepared for transforming our industry when the upturn occurs.” DC