1. Home
  2. News and insights
  3. Speeches
  4. Leaders change outcomes

Leaders change outcomes

Release date:
5 March 2024
Fuzzy Bitar, SVP, HSE and carbon

Safety Collaboration Forum, Houston, TX 

Hi everyone.


Let me start by thanking the organizing team for all their hard work in making this event a great success. And of course, the support staff who did an outstanding job – let’s give them a good round of applause.


Let’s now start by watching this short video.


Opening video plays in the venue.


What we just watched is a stark reminder of how fragile life is and how quickly it can be lost. Some of you in this room may have even taken or witnessed a call like this – something you will never forget.


Sadly, in our industry fatalities are still occurring and we are seeing a worrying, increasing trend.


It is clear we have much more to do.


The solution to all of this is you. None of this is enabled without our leadership. We create safety. Leaders change outcomes.


Influencing factors: time and cost

So, are we really prioritising safety.


We easily become distracted with competing priorities, but we are clear, safety is not a competing priority – it comes first.


Do we really mean this and act in this way?


If I take cost as an example, though we as leaders are clear that it must not impact safety, it does not always translate that way to our people. The importance of safety can sometimes compete with the urgency of cost.


Where we spend our time matters.


This all stems from us. Everything we do as leaders influences what our teams do – we set the context in which they balance those competing thoughts. 

Leaders change outcomes

Whether you realize it or not, every single one of us is a safety leader. Let me share with you how each of us shapes our safety culture.


We all desire safe operations; the challenge is how do you translate this desire into action. Written rules and procedures are important – but alone they are not enough. I believe the answer lies in a company’s culture, the unwritten rules that shape our attitudes, mindsets, and behaviours.


Our people work and make decisions in the context that we give them.


It’s natural to distance yourself from major incidents: you might think to yourself, “I wasn’t on that site that day; I didn’t have contact with that team” … but we need to recognize our leadership role in incidents like these.


Rather than looking at just the day of the incident, take a step back and consider how the choices we made in the months and years before could have contributed to or prevented something like this happening. 


As leaders, we set the tone that leads to the work environment, the individual beliefs, and behaviour of our teams. Leadership drives behaviour and behaviour drives culture. Ultimately culture is not what we say, it’s what we do.


So, let’s take a moment to think of our leadership and our actions.


What are you focused on and where are you spending your time?

  • Cost or safety, office or field?
  • When things go wrong, who do you blame?
  • How do you react to bad news?
  • Are you creating the environment where people can speak up without fear?


At the end of the day, do we spend enough time reflecting and questioning our own leadership?


We can spend time sat at our desks looking at our dashboards and take comfort from improving trends, but there is no amount of statistical improvement that can compensate for the loss of lives.


We need to better understand ‘how work actually happens.’ Spending time at our sites is invaluable for everyone. Being there in person gives you first-hand knowledge, it keeps us grounded, and helps influence the decisions we make. But most importantly, it builds trust. That is what we need to strengthen, our safety culture – more confidence in us as leaders and a more psychologically safe place where our people can speak up.


What we say and do as leaders really, really matters, our actions or inactions can be the difference between life and death.


So, are you doing safety because it’s expected of you or because you genuinely care? 


It needs to be deeply personal. When something is personal, you simply do it with a different level of intensity.


In my own career of 35-plus years, three fatalities occurred under my watch. The first in Egypt when I was overseeing a diving operation in the Gulf of Suez, the second in Papua, Indonesia, on an LNG construction Project and the third in the North Sea on an offshore platform.


While these incidents were all different, there was one common lasting impact. The fatherless children left behind, their grieving wives, and their devastated colleagues.


Each of us, has a silent running contract with ourselves and those whom we serve and look after. That contract is a commitment that everyone goes home. I didn’t honour that commitment.


It’s important that we recognise and embrace that failure - and have a willingness to be vulnerable. We must make time to sit in this sadness and grieve. Because it’s not until we feel uncomfortable with it that we will be open to change. 


Personal commitment

So, my question is what are you going to personally do?


To close the session today, Kim McHugh, a dear friend of mine, will ask you to make a commitment.


Before doing so, my request is that this is not a one-off. You can’t go home after this and forget about the commitment you make today. Take it seriously. Make it personal. And make it last.


Emotional connection

If I can now ask the people on the right half of the room to stand up. You represent the people who died in our industry last year. People who died on our watch. Now, everyone, think of their families, their partners, their children and how they will never see them again.


These deaths are not numbers, they are real people, with real lives, and now are vanished dreams and mourning families. Forever lost but never forgotten.


I now want to read you an excerpt from a post from the wife of a colleague recently lost.


“Oh honey, thank you for the time we had together. The years we spent were the best years of my life, it surely got cut way too short. We had so many plans and dreams. We finally were able to move home to be with our families. We were just starting over, and we couldn’t wait to build a life here. Our house was almost finished we were going to move in a month. My sweet honey, you were truly such an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend. I can’t explain how amazing a person you were leaving such a big impact on so many people in your lifetime. It’s just not fair and I still can’t wrap my head around this all. I feel like you’re going to walk into the door any minute with a big smiling face like you always did and say “hi honey” with a kiss. You will forever be the love of my life and my best friend. Life surely will never be the same. Till we meet again my love.”


The thing about death is that it is final, it’s irreversible. So, I ask you to not forget her words, and how the loss of her husband will affect her and their children forever. This man with ambitions, dreams, and a future ahead of him was taken from his loved ones as have many of our own– working under our leadership.



So, when you leave today and return home from this event, you should do so with a renewed energy to protect the people under your care and that every action you take is with their safety in mind. And those lives lost will not be in vain. It is the time to promise that every day we will work tirelessly to eliminate fatalities in our industry.


However, I do want to recognise and remember that, whilst we can do better, most days are good. Most days we maintain safe operations, safe sites and our people go home to their families. What we need to do now is support our teams to repeat those good days, every single day.


There is no doubt that with the leadership here today, we will rise to the challenge and together have a lasting impact. Know that each of you will make a difference.


I will now leave you with a short video to close reminding us who we are really doing this for. 


Video plays in the venue.