Giselle Thompson - Norman Christie farewell

Norman Christie Farewell
Remarks by Giselle Thompson

March 23, 2018

All protocols observed. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a tough job this evening. Norm always jokes that his emotional bandwidth is very small, well unfortunately my emotional bandwidth is very large so I will do my best to make it through this evening while holding my emotions together. 

Tonight, I speak on behalf of 900+ employees who, like me, are one career limiting move away from hiding Norm’s passport if only to make him stay for just a while longer. Karen, keep that passport safe!

I’m sure that everyone here has a story or two about their relationship with Norman. You can go look for Derek or Ian later to get some of the (juicy) ones. Juicy or no so juicy common themes of those stories would be Norm’s integrity, genuineness, likeability, fairness – and the list goes on. Norm has been mentor, friend and inspiration to many, and has inspired us all to be better leaders and professionals. 

I personally, have had the pleasure – and the honour – of working closely with Norm during his time in Trinidad and Tobago. I have been able to learn from his astute business sense and his ability to connect and to build relationships with employees and stakeholders across the country.  Over the past thirteen years I have come to know him very well and he has guided me, both as a member of his executive leadership team and as a professional. There is no doubt that Norm has steered us through what was a very dynamic past 7 years for our company and ensured that we delivered what we set out to do – safely, on time and at or under budget – words that I know Norm loves to hear.

This did not happen by chance but rather is the result of a deliberate and well executed strategy. We may think that Norm is a great leader and a savvy commercial guy but above all he has taught us more about strategy than we could have learned from any MBA degree… that’s because “Norm is the man with the plan”. Early in his role as Regional President he led his leadership team in the development of our BPTT strategy – with our Aspiration and values as the foundation we built a long-term plan that set out to ensure the we had the right external conditions in place to support the right investment, to develop our resources both hydrocarbon and people at the right pace and to improve both gas supply and value to country and company. 

Despite the challenges and head winds that could have blown us of course Norm held steadfast to that strategy and delivered what he set out to.  Of all the things I have learned from Norm, I’ve learned the importance of having a clear vision and making sure all decisions are grounded in values.

Norm has said on more than one occasion that “I love it when a good plan comes together” a quote he borrowed from that once famous 80’s TV show the A team. We can say that 2017 was the year when the fruits of that labour really came together. We all know in the energy sector what you sow today you reap many years from now. The results of 2017 were therefore not by chance but rather through the safe and steady execution of a very deliberate plan that Norm and the wider leadership team put together to deliver value for our company and country. The delivery of TROC and Juniper projects, two exploration discoveries, new gas supply contracts with the NGC, sanction of Angelin, further investments in Ocean Bottom Seismic and increases in production capacity are just a few of the outcomes of that aspiration, strategy and plan. Of course, we also added a National Panorama title, the first in 20 years! Norman might say that may be the most prized achievement yet – thank you Candace, Michael and all of the members of BP Renegades. 
Just imagine his excitement as Renegades won this year.
There was no way that Norm was going to miss out on supporting the band one more time. In fact, one of his hardest tasks to date was to somehow explain to BP’s CEO Bob Dudley that he could not take up his new job until AFTER Carnival. I don't know how he swung it but we all know that Norm can be very persuasive! And it paid off Norm!

Another thing I’ve learned about Norm is that he’s a great communicator – he always has a clear way of summarizing the messages he wants to deliver… he is a man that speaks in points and of course always has a memorable tag line. Who can forget some of his famous quotes like “never let a downturn go to waste” or “point your spears outwards… not inwards” and yet another “We don’t have to bat in our crease, we can take a walk down the pitch and hit a six.” He always has 3 key points to share, realizes that there are 2 major objectives or 4 key pillars. So today I will take a page from his book and spend the rest of my time reflecting on the three big lessons that we will remember most about Norm and his time here.
The first is the “power of one” – “one team” and “one dream”
Did you know Norm is a songwriter?  
In his early days as Regional President, Norm worked with his executive team to create a strategy but also a song that would motivate our staff to bring it to life. The song, a soca song of course had…. 
ONE TEAM. ONE DREAM at its center… it sort of became the BPTT anthem.
I’ve already spoken about the dream – and that’s our strategy and aspiration but to speak of “one team” Norm’s passion goes way beyond delivering a safe and efficient business. He has had a tremendous impact on not just national development but the development of our nationals……his team! And his commitment to helping those who have a dream to succeed. During Norm’s tenure he was committed to seeing more nationals elevated to leadership positions and more nationals given the opportunity for exposure outside of T&T. I am proud to say that Norm continued the work started by our former CEO Robert Riley and now 95% of our employees are national. 70% of our executive leadership team are national and 80% of our next generation of senior level leaders are national. He has also seen over 100 employees receive the opportunity for overseas assignments to further develop their skills. More BPTT staff are in prominent positions and on high potential development programs than ever before. So, we can say with pride and confidence that it is Trinidad and Tobago nationals who run BPTT. 

Norm’s one team approach also extends to our contractor base. He made time for contractor meetings, walked sites and never missed an opportunity for recognizing the inputs of all of the contractors who work in our business. That is one critical mark that he has made on our company, our team and our country… we are one team all working together to deliver our dream!

So that was the power of one – now on to the next point – the power of 2
And here I refer to the power of a strong relationships between two important parties - country and company.
What stood out for me from my very early interactions with Norm is his values and his firm belief that no matter what we do we must have a positive impact not just for BP but for country. Wendy spoke earlier about the BPTT Aspiration. This is a statement that guides not just what we deliver but how we deliver it. It speaks to being excellent and pioneering but also to the fact that we will have a positive impact on the lives of everyone who works for the company, every citizen and the global environment. In Norm’s own words and simply put he summarizes this for company and country as when we work together we will both “live long and prosper”.

No matter how challenging the circumstances or the negotiations Norm will always be remembered for his calm but deliberate approach to pushing through obstacles and for always finding a solution that was “win win”. While there will always be moments in our history that test the relationship between company and country, I can say that under Norm’s leadership we have maintained strong, respectful and professional relationships with all who sat in the seat of government and with all of the stakeholders with whom he interacted.  Norm you may not be a national by birth but you are certainly an honorary Trini.

So by now you have figured out my final point - the power of three – three personal values that Norm holds dear – Faith, family and friends.
For many of you who know Norm, know he is a man of values. Despite Norm’s very demanding role in the organization, he always made his faith, his family and his friends a priority. Outside of BPTT his leadership in his church has had a tremendous impact on his community. His faith and beliefs have always guided his interactions both inside and outside of business. His faith is demonstrated in his humility, his thanks-giving.  It kept him wide-eyed, open-hearted, open-minded, thoughtful, hopeful, centered, questioning, accepting and patient. Whew! I have said a lot but that’s the nature of Norm and it comes across in his values.

If I had to choose just one value to speak about it would be the value of respect. Whether it is Norm’s dealings at hard negotiating tables, working with our contractors or interacting in our host community in Mayaro, respect is always evident. Speaking to us as leaders in the organization, he insisted that not only should we ‘get it done’ but ‘get it done’ the right way. To use a phrase that Norm coined creating “value through values” became a key priority for our organization. 

His family - One cannot give tribute to Norm without recognizing his family. Family is a blessing and Norm’s family is an extra special blessing. If you think Norm is warm, his wife and children are the definition of genuinely caring people. To Karen and to his children we recognize how gracious you have all been to share Norm with us and we know the demands of the job have at times meant many personal sacrifices.  Karen opened her home often to us, hosting way too many a Corporate dinner and event. On behalf of our entire staff, Karen, Toni, Matthew, Natalie and Pery-Lee we thank you for sharing Norm with us. Thanks for all that you have contributed to our company and to our community.
Norm and his family embraced our communities and especially Mayaro as their family. The Mayaro community proudly calls Norm family and friend. 

Personal time and personal talent was invested in volunteerism by Norm and the entire Christie family who always found the time to give a hand up to those in need- even reaching into their own pockets to support the lifting of the community.  And lift the Christie’s did – from lifting those who could not walk into our Marionettes Charity Concert to lifting brushes, paint cans and bricks to build homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Apart from their volunteer work through the company, Norm and Karen also supported a number of charities in T&T. As Norm would say, this would be guided by the principle that “In as much as you do this to the least among you, you do it also to me.”
In recognition of their service, BPTT will make a contribution to the Elpis Centre, a charity chosen by Norm and Karen. Thank you Norm, Karen and family for leading the way through your commitment to serve others.

And now on to friends – many of you gathered here today have come to say farewell not just to a business associate but to a true friend. Norm has made great friends in business but also has made great friends outside of our industry. To the personal relationship he held with our Paralympic athlete ambassadors such as Carlos Greene and Shantol Ince to the friends he made through his involvement in mentorship programmes with the Heroes foundation and not to mention the many personal relationships he developed with members of our Mayaro community, with the leaders of NGO’s that we support and with the institutions of BP Renegades and Marionettes who do the most outstanding work particularly with the youth in their community. I’m happy to see many of those friends here today. 

We will certainly remember Norm for his genuine and humble ability to connect with people. National development is for Norm – not just the dollars we contribute to the economy, or our social investment programmes but the difference we can make in the lives of people and communities.

So, we can say he has stayed true to his strategy, he has delivered his plan, he has delivered value through his values, he has taught us humility and respect and as employees, as colleagues and as friends, Norm has made a lasting impact on us all.

“We have learned so much from him – not by what he has told us but by what he has showed us”.

So we won’t say goodbye, as goodbyes are too hard, we will say farewell, you will always have family and friends in sweet T&T and we are happy that we have friends in London too.

Now that I have shared the three ways in which Norm has left a lasting legacy I will have to close with that memorable tag line….. Norm you have left us in a good place and the only fitting tag line for you… and as we would say in BPTT is …….. may you “live long and prosper.”

Thank you Norm!