Categotry Archives: HR

The value of promises for the future

When I was 18 years old and first got my driving license, all the talk among my peers was about insurance costs.  When you’re a young male – and by definition a total idiot – car insurance is understandably very high, and you can end up being quoted premiums of $2,000 per year on a $700 car.  The standard refrain from the insurance companies was “it’s high because you’re under 21”, and 21 was the magic age at which car […]

Women engineers face discrimination, but not in the way you think

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day and as such I received a company-wide email from the bowels of HR telling me I should respect women for the job they do.  Which I thought I already did, but obviously not. I met up for lunch with a former colleague of mine who now works for another company, an intelligent, pleasant, and competent female engineer.  In the morning she had been called together with other female engineers in her office by one […]

Sharpen those axes

Norway’s Statoil isn’t fucking about in Houston: Around 70 Statoil employees reportedly were stripped of their jobs with immediate effect at its Houston-area offices in the US after refusing to take voluntary redundancy as part of manpower cutbacks at the Norwegian state-run oil giant. Ouch!  I don’t think we’re in Norway any more, Olaf! Retrenched staff – largely drawn from the company’s IT, technical and communication departments within its upstream business – were offered voluntary redundancy packages or alternative positions […]

Rood Boyz

There is an odd phenomenon in corporate environments whereby extreme rudeness and impolite behaviour is perfectly acceptable provided it is of a certain form, while others are very much frowned upon.  Here is an example. A project I was managing required a specific type of insurance document to be drawn up on behalf of one of the contractors.  For this, I had to go to a chap who called himself Head of Legal Affairs.  I explained to him what was […]

Who judges the judges?

An employee in a major oil company finds themselves bombarded on a daily basis with advice, most of it unsolicited, uninformed, patronising, self-serving, and muddle-headed.  This is especially true if you are under 30, after which it tends to die down a bit as men who are not afforded respect at home quit trying to be your dad. That said, occasionally one stumbles across a gem.  One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given came from an […]

Appraisals: the biggest waste of time short of washing submarines

May is almost upon us and, as is the tradition in the organisation which employs me, this is the month in which the annual employee appraisals are done.  I’ve thought about this and I’ve reached the conclusion that in no other field of our industry is there a greater disparity between the seriousness with which something is presented and the importance it actually has.  Even the boilerplate committment to Safety shoehorned in at the beginning of every report or presentation […]