Five minutes with: Linh Austin, senior vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at McDermott

Oil & Gas Middle East delves into company culture at McDermott after its merger with CB&I

 Linh Austin is the senior vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at McDermott
Linh Austin is the senior vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at McDermott

How has your combination with CB&I affected McDermott?

The combination with CB&I means that we are now a fully integrated onshore to offshore company offering end-to-end solutions. In the Middle East, we have expanded our footprint by adding countries such as Libya and Egypt, presenting new opportunities. We see a big opportunity in the region’s onshore tank, refining and petrochemicals market. It is geared around technology and we now have a fantastic portfolio to build on with the Lummus technology offering right across the value chain.

Describe McDermott’s ‘culture’.

McDermott has been in the region for over 60 years, people know and trust us and I think that is reflected in our company culture, which has been cultivated over decades with pride in delivery. Some of that is driven by our longstanding employees. We are holding our long service awards this month where we will recognise those who have been with us for over 25 years. Many of them have been in the business for 40 years; I think that speaks volumes. Our culture is geared towards delivery and safety. Safety remains at the forefront of our business and that is something that will not change.

What was it like to combine with a different company culture?

In many ways, the two businesses were complementary in terms of delivery, and we felt that there was a natural fit between us. Our increased capabilities and footprint have brought tremendous opportunity and people are excited about that. They are also eager to be a part of building this new company.

Bringing two company cultures together effectively is not something that is achieved overnight, it is a process, a process into which we are putting significant emphasis and investment.

How do you make sure there’s a smooth transition for employees after a combination like this?

Creating the right culture is a big focus for us. We have held numerous Cultural Integration Summits around the world, bringing together employees from every discipline and every region to look at how we can create a new culture for the company. These have been hugely impactful in terms of engagement. Here in Dubai we have recently moved both legacy businesses into one shared office at the World Trade Centre, which I believe will have a positive impact in terms of bringing people together.

What defines company culture?

Culture is best defined as the behaviours within an organisation and the meaning people attach to those behaviours.  In short, the values that we hold dear and are consistently applied in all that we do. We recently held the Cultural Integration Action Summit in Houston which compiled the inputs of the previous five summits, and from that, outlined the vision, values and purpose for the new company. To roll this out, we have established cultural integration teams within each region. As managers, they will have a significant role to play in communicating and modelling behaviours. There has been a lot of work to sure managers have the tools and the training to deliver on this.

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Oil & Gas Middle East - December 2018

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