Building IT teams of the future

George Eapen Chief Information Officer

"Building a resilient, digital-first organisation with a robust ecosystem of infrastructure, platforms, software, and cyber security best practices to underpin it, requires a multidimensional strategy. In a global company with a global employee base this becomes even more complex. Every aspect of the strategy contributes to its overall success, and one of the most significant contributors are, without a doubt, people.

Building talent vs finding talent

Firstly, let’s look at how we identify, develop, and attract the best people.

One way is to organically build talent by developing people from within the organisation. Providing technical training and making sure learning opportunities are ever-present is the minimum requirement for a successful organisation. The less obvious approach, and what we are dedicated to at Petrofac, is developing a clear career growth trajectory with appropriate support from senior members of the IT team. Whether it is tasking our senior IT leaders with mentoring people or helping them identify improvement opportunities with the right coaching and feedback, we help people grow into bigger, more challenging and more fulfilling roles. This, when it materialises, is a great accomplishment for me personally.

By providing both upskilling opportunities and growth support we increase retention of the right people and strengthen our teams.

Secondly, we need to go to the market and find the right people in areas in which we are either growing or need more support. Attracting the best to Petrofac goes beyond the job description. Key questions we ask are: ‘Are you hungry for exposure? Would you like to be a key contributor or ‘one in the sea of many?’ These questions not only hint at how exciting life at Petrofac may be, but help us identify candidates whose character would be a great match in a challenging, interesting, and rewarding environment.

People are at the heart of advances in IT and digital

The humans of IT

And finally, I would like to highlight the disparity between the nature of roles in the IT sector.

Petrofac has successful relationships with institutions and universities nurturing the next generation of talent, and I occasionally have the pleasure of speaking to the tech workers of the future. On one such occasion I asked a group of IT students what field they would like to start their career in. A strong show of hands from aspiring data scientists, developers, AI architecture designers, and other innovation-focused roles, proved to me that we could do a better job of creating appeal for the less celebrated, but equally important, support and maintenance roles in our profession. We mustn’t forget, and should undoubtedly celebrate more, the accomplishments of people who are making the day-to-day operations possible. Those who don’t get a ‘pat on the back’ when everything is business as usual, but are first on the scene when something goes wrong.

In conclusion, there is no blueprint for building a future-proof IT team, but carefully observing global trends and developing career paths to match them is essential. We shouldn’t forget, whether we talk about AI, automation, software, cyber security, or any other aspect of IT, that it is the humans that power and sustain a successful IT strategy, and it is the humans we must invest in."

Banner image: George Eapen, CIO, speaking at the Middle East Technology Excellence Awards where Petrofac's Global IT team won the ‘Digital - Energy’ accolade in recognition of our digital journey