ON 6 APRIL 2021, the International Liquid Terminals Association (ILTA) held its inaugural Young Terminal Industry Professionals (Y-TIP) Symposium, supported by Aramco and Tank Storage Magazine. It was aimed at young terminal industry professionals, their managers and mentors, and others who wanted to learn more about the best ways to recruit, retain and support the careers of young terminal industry professionals.
The event was hosted by ILTA president Kathryn Clay.
‘We are actively looking forward to hearing from all of you what else we can be doing to help both the Millennials and und under-35s in our industry, and the companies that employ them. How can we provide resources, how can we provide peer-to-peer knowledge about programmes within the companies to bring excitement and engagement to that vital part of the workforce?’ she said.
YOUTH EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMMES
The programme began with presentations from speakers from four companies with active programmes to support younger employees, to help show what is possible.
Abdulrahman Al Juraifani, Aramco
Abdulrahman Al Juraifani is the Y-Connect Champion in the Pipeline, Distribution & Terminals (PD&T) segment of Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco.
PD&T has ten departments with around 6,000 employees, of which around 67% are aged 35 and below. Y-Connect is aimed at these younger members of staff, and is headed up by a 12-member team, each representing a different department.
The programme is designed to improve access and communication between younger staff and management, as well as to give younger members of staff a feeling of engagement. With a commitment to the company goals and values, and emotional investment, employees will feel more motivated to contribute to its success.
Al Juraifani said that biggest challenge is how scattered the employees are (Saudi Arabia covers an area the equivalent of France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Greece), and the sheer number of younger employees, who number more than 3,500. They have overcome this through setting up a website with seven Y-Connect activities – Y-Gathering, Y-Study, Y-Achievement, Y-Forum, Y-Meeting, Y-Media and Y-Talent. For example, Y-Achievement recognises career accomplishments, with a winner selected monthly based on the number of ‘likes’ an entry has received from the staff member’s peers, and an assessment by the Y-Connect team. Y-Talent is similar, but for non-career accomplishments, such as art and graphic design.
Nikki Thomas, Independent Petroleum Association of America
Nikki Thomas is the vice-president, development, marketing and programs, at the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), which lobbies on behalf of independent oil and gas producers in the US, as well as providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) resources to schools, to encourage students to consider a career in energy.
IPAA’s Emerging Leaders in Energy was launched in 2012 to connect young professionals under 35 with IPAA members who have been in the industry a long time. It started small, but rapidly grew. Now, the scheme offers discounts to attend meetings for Emerging Leaders, all of which have easy networking opportunities for Emerging Leaders to meet established professionals. Emerging Leaders can volunteer at IPAA events so they can mingle, and wear a blue badge to make them easily recognisable. Senior members are encouraged to approach those with blue badges, taking some of the pressure off. Once they reach 35, Emerging Leaders are offered a discounted membership rate.
Thomas said that the scheme was run by ‘a small committee of young professionals’ and urged other companies wanting to start similar schemes to set up such committees, give them a budget and let them go, and encouraged more experienced staff members to volunteer as mentors.
Caitlin Geisinger, Burns & McDonnell
Caitlin Geisinger, a chemical engineer by background, is a business development manager at Burns & McDonnell, a 100% employee-owned engineering, procurement and construction company with 8,000 members of staff in 55 locations.
‘If you want to attract and retain the top talent, you must first create a culture the top talent wants to be a part of,’ Geisinger began.
Burns & McDonnell tries to do just that by offering professional development, opportunities for ownership and programmes for the top talent, as well as ‘give back’ committees to find ways to help the local community and a charitable donation matching scheme. The company also has nationwide STEM initiatives such as summer schools and job shadowing.
As far as career development goes, young employees can access specific training classes, receive tuition assistance for continued degrees, and Burns & McDonnell will pay for membership for professional organisations, like ILTA, and event attendance. Communications staff are available to help with writing anything from white papers to blog posts, to help staff members to ‘build their brand’. The company also offers rotational working placements so younger staff members experience more of the business, and regular contests to foster the Millennial entrepreneurial spirit in the Ignite programme. The best new ideas will receive a budget to enact their plan. There are also invite-only top talent programmes, which are based on performance, for the most promising employees 5-7 years in (a time when many will move on).
Wendy Smith, TF Warren
The final presentation of the first session was given by Wendy Smith, director of human resources at TF Warren, a Canadian storage tank services company.
TF Warren’s Emerging Leaders programme offers opportunities in various parts of the business, including project management, construction, manufacturing, accounting and supply chain.
‘60% of graduates are not in a degree-related career. The programme allows them to apply their knowledge to difference parts of the business, and the breadth of opportunities available, to identify their strengths and what they want to do,’ said Smith.
Those on the programme have opportunities to travel and train in different parts of the world, such as Japan and Hawaii, to stretch them and help develop their network. They work together with people who have been in the company for 30 years and more, allowing experienced staff to pass on skills and knowledge, while benefitting from new ideas and approaches from the younger staff, as well as their knowledge of technology. There is also a mentoring scheme.
‘The individuals on our training programme really enjoy the opportunity to work directly with company leaders, and just be around them, learn from them, their behaviours, and just know more about the industry,’ said Smith.
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS PANEL
Tank Storage Magazine ’s own Margaret Dunn chaired the second session of the symposium, a panel session in which four of the StocExpo and Tank Storage Magazine’s ‘Forty under 40’ group shared their thoughts and experiences. The four panellists were: –
• Joanna Hajnaj – managing director of Environmental Protection of Storage Tanks, a company working to reduce emissions from storage tanks.
• Paul Ramsey – senior project engineer at Oiltanking Houston.
• Josefien Groot – co-founder and CEO of Qlayers, a Dutch tank coatings company which uses robots.
• Nicole Hameister – terminal manager at Canal Terminals.
Dunn asked the panellists a number of questions and kicked off by asking them what they looked for in a career path. All agreed that financial rewards were less important than personal goals, such as being able to have a positive impact on the world and in the community, a sense of purpose, and a healthy work-life balance, something for employers of young professionals to take note of.
In light of the desire to have a positive impact on the world, tank storage companies could struggle to recruit younger people, and Dunn next asked whether the industry can do anything to change the impression people have of it. Hajnaj pointed out that many people don’t understand what the tank storage industry does and how vital it is for everyday life, and for the energy transition. Ramsey and Groot both commented on the necessity of educating school students on the fact that it isn’t only oil that is stored in tanks but chemicals and renewables.
Several audience members also posed questions to the panellists. One asked whether it is possible for young people to have an impact on a company’s culture. Ramsay said that it is important to have young professionals present and in an open dialogue to share their experiences. Groot’s company is still very small, so there, everyone can have an impact. Hameister said that while initially, young professionals found it hard to make themselves heard at her company, there is now a committee to help that process, and guidelines to reward talent and a shift towards accepting new ideas.
At the other end, of course, many companies worry about losing knowledge and talent through retirement. Hajnaj has weekly calls with her now-retired advisor to gain insight and prevent the mistakes of the past. Ramsay said that it is important to have plans in place, perhaps with an ongoing transition period after retirement. As he said, retirement shouldn’t come as a surprise! Groot suggested partnerships with younger and older members of staff for a two-way exchange of knowledge and skills.
Hameister believes such succession planning should start at the very beginning. As she tells her new staff: ‘If I’m not training you to hold the fort when I’m travelling or if I’m building another terminal, then I’m not doing my job properly.’
The tank industry uses a lot of technology but it is perhaps not perceived as a hightech industry. The panellists all agreed that technology is hugely important for the industry, for example through removing human limitations, improving safety, such as through the use of robots, and automation, but that it can be quite niche. Groot, whose company is by definition very high-tech, pointed out that there are lots of opportunities for technology specialists.
Hameister was asked how companies can attract different people. Her company partners with a community college to offer classes to those who might be interested, but suggested that high schoolers are the missing generation and perhaps should be reached on social media or in person. Hajnaj agreed high schools were the right place to start to show the campaigning generation what the industry offers. Ramsey explained about Oiltanking’s two-year ‘My future in energy and logisitics’ programme, open to all new hires, allowing them to touch all departments and get a holistic view, attracting and retaining more individuals.
The final question looked at training and professional development. In Groot’s small company, many staff members have more than one function, for example, a young engineer might need to step into project manager at an early stage, and they have found that training them is better, not to mention cheaper, than hiring a more expensive member of staff with the skills already.
‘Knowledge is power. It’s something nobody can take away from you, so the more knowledge you have the further you’ll go in life,’ said Hameister, adding that she tries very hard to make sure staff get the training they need.
THE MILLENNIAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING GENXERS AND BABY BOOMERS
The generational gap is often joked about, but many of the stereotypes are based in fact. The final session of the day was a fascinating presentation by Warren Wright, the founder and CEO of Second Wave Learning, who specialises in inter-generational learning. Wright gave insights into how different generations can work more harmoniously together.
Almost three-quarters of people, Wright said, agree that the differences between generations cause problems at work. The key to bridging the gaps, Wright believes, is understanding the differences between the generations and what shaped them.
‘If you want to create a collaborative environment, you have to meet people where they are,’ he said.
What are the generations?
• Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964
• Generation X – born 1965-1982
• Millennials – born 1983-1995
• Generation Z born 1996-2010
Some dispute those dates, and that’s not to mention the ‘cuspers’, such as Generation Jones (1959-1968) and the X-ennials (1978-1986).
Wright asked attendees to describe each of the main generations in one word, generating a word cloud, and noted that generally, when he asks this question, older generations are viewed more positively. For example, common responses for Baby Boomers include wise and loyal, and for Gen Xers, hardworking and responsible, while Millennials might be described as creative and entitled, and Generation Z as impatient and selfish.
THE STORIES BEHIND THE GENERATIONS
Attitudes to work have changed over the years. Boomers are very work-centric, Gen Xers introduced the concept of a work-life balance, Millennials want worklife integration, while the focus for Gen Z is skills building. Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce in 2016, but those in power are still largely Boomers and Gen Xers. Good management must take this into consideration.
A person is shaped by their life experiences and stories, generations by shared experiences, and this is baggage that cannot be shaken off. Wright went on to explain what he believes are the major differences.
Boomers were born in the age of Sputnik, and rock ‘n’ roll, raised to be the adored child and shape their identity around work. While techno-literacy can be problem they have valuable skills and expertise.
Gen Xers were born in the age of Watergate and Reagan, at a time when mothers were going out to work and children were left much more to their own devices. This taught them pragmatism and self-reliance and led to a spirit of survival and competition. They are results-driven.
Millennials tend to have had very hands-on parents, and have been shaped by world events like 9/11, high school shootings and global recessions. They are digital natives, driven by the notion of family and teamwork, and want to make the world a better place. They want to work towards a specific outcome and seek authenticity.
Generation Z share many Millennial characteristics, but are still being shaped by world events such as climate change and of course, the COVID pandemic. They are very socially active, seeking justice and equity, but struggle to live up to high expectations. They are book-smart but may need frequent feedback.
‘Generations is a form of diversity that is often overlooked,’ said Wright, adding: ‘If you have say five Millennials working for you and a couple of Gen-Zs, get to know them, get to know their story, get to know them individually and keep in mind that their generation is part of their story.’
Wright finished with three final points in the quest to increase workplace collaboration and productivity:
• Consider generational biases;
• Understand what drives each generation (their values); and
• Assume positive intent, and that an individual can add value.
Clay concluded: ‘We are continuing to learn how we can help our companies and how we can help our Millennial workforce and under-35 workforce, so this is the beginning of a conversation that we are helping to facilitate.’