Jack wins big at TechnoFest

Therone Jack, a Challenger in the Human Resource (HR) department at BP Trinidad and Tobago (bpTT) was among 6 finalist winners who were celebrated at the finals of the BP Global TechnoFest competition that took place in London in November 2013. 

TechnoFest is an annual Global technical poster competition amongst BP Challengers, providing an opportunity to showcase the various projects they have been working on which have made significant contributions to the company. There are three categories in the competition: Technical Excellence in which a Challenger demonstrates deep technical knowledge and develops a solution to a business or operational challenge within BP; Safety and Operational Risk (S&OR) which recognises work that directly affects risk to people, equipment or the environment; and Business Impact which celebrates solutions that address a business shortfall or financial improvement to a project or process.
2013 represented the third year that the Global TechnoFest competition has been put on by the Upstream segment, and with over 500 Challengers and interns taking part from across 13 locations, Jack was among the top 6 winners selected. All six winners were selected following two rounds of judging, initially at a local level, and then for the hemisphere selection. Two challengers were chosen for each of the 3 categories, where Jack received the award for his contribution in the Business Impact category. 

As part of the final stage of the programme, the finalists visited BP’s London St. James Square offices in November, which also coincided with the BP Helios Awards. While at the offices, they met with BP’s chief operating officer for Production and this year’s Global TechnoFest executive sponsor Bernard Looney who reviewed their work before presenting them with their awards.

As a young HR professional, Jack’s project aligned very closely to his experience at bpTT in Employee Relations. His project was entitled “Developing Our Administrative Professionals“ and began after an assessment of the 2012 employee satisfaction Pulse Survey results. Findings indicated that the gap that existed focused mainly on persons especially among the Administrative population who were targeted by Jack for an “intervention”. The Employee Relations team decided to take an active approach in understanding the needs and concerns of this employee grouping with an aim of closing gaps highlighted.

As part of Jack’s project, he conducted one-on-one interviews with two-thirds of the administrative population; where issues emerged regarding an absence of structured training programmes and very few developmental opportunities. Based on the results of the interviews, the team decided to respond. As a Challenger, Jack was a part of this team and was inspired to create a Career Roadmap for the Admins. Although the project is a long-term one, Jack is already beginning to see the results.

“This project has the potential to establish a step change in how organisations engage the employees who perform the ‘silent running’ work in the business. Although we tend to overlook these voices, without the administrative staff, most companies will not operate as efficiently. To me, it was important to not only understand their needs and concerns, but to develop and support a company initiative that would positively address their feedback.” 

When asked about his experience in London and representing the Trinidad Region for the competition, Jack said, “The experience can described as both exciting and humbling. Exciting because I got to meet Bernard Looney who was a Challenger himself and gave such good advice to the six of us. Simple things that we sometimes overlook, but hearing it from him resonated with me. One such piece of advice was that we must treat people well. As a young HR professional, this is completely aligned to my way of thinking and to hear it from him was even more encouraging. The experience was also humbling at the same time because here I was representing not only bpTT, but all the 500 challengers who had entered, and those especially in the Business Impact category who may have submitted projects that aren’t as technical or safety focused like mine. It was admirable to see that a project that dealt with people issues was able to stand out from the crowd. At the same time, I was able to sit in the same room where decisions are made at BP; I met Bob Dudley at a one-on-one forum; I attended the Helios Awards where the movers and shakers were celebrated, and I came home with a trophy, proving that great things come from right here in our country.” 

Although this is the first time that an HR Challenger has entered TechnoFest, it is the second hemisphere winner that bpTT has produced. In 2011 Tracy Gunness won in the Technical Excellence Category. Alicia Matthews S&OR Challenger in the Crisis and Continuity Management and Emergency Response (C&CMER) team was also successful in 2013 placing third in the Safety and Operational Risk Category.