How the WorleyParsons-Jacobs merger has changed its business
Krishnaswamy Iyer, president of energy & chemicals services for MEA and Ian Davies, SVP of business development & growth for MEA at Worley, comment on the recent merger of WorleyParsons and Jacobs ECR
In April, WorleyParsons and Jacobs ECR merged to become Worley. Worley has operated continuously in the region for over 50 years. Today, with over 5,500 employees across the region, Worley is a prominent provider of professional technical services in the Middle East. Focused on providing solutions to customers across the asset life cycle in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors, Worley has a footprint and capabilities that have never before existed in one company in the history of the region.
A merger of this size, bringing 57,600 people across 51 countries together, represents a truly significant change for any business in any industry and it’s a change that looks set to bring about an entirely new approach to customer experience.
Curious and enthusiastic
An integral element for success that has underpinned and supported the progress to date has been the positive drive to connect and collaborate.
From Day 1, our CEO, Andrew Wood, challenged the global organization to “Be curious”. This meant, proactively engaging with new colleagues to build all-important relationships fostering collaboration with those immediately around us, as well as across locations, regions, functions and sectors too. And it also meant understanding Worley’s enhanced global capabilities, as well as learning of centers of excellence that had emerged and subject matter experts that had been gained.
It is not uncommon for merging teams to suffer from feelings of uncertainty and unrest underlined by undertones of tension. So, the extent to which the merger was embraced and greeted with enthusiasm was a fantastic achievement. The respective teams came together to identify those synergist opportunities to combine capabilities, ready to bring a new level of focus to the customer. However, with a merger of this size, it could have easily been the opposite story. This is where such close alignment of the merged entities’ heritage and values, and the synergies on offer, really came to bear.
Rather than being anxious, teams wanted to collaborate and were proactive, excited and energised about it. Teams came together around new customer propositions and solutions to reflect the combined capabilities of the new Worley. What quickly became apparent was that the opportunity was far greater than simply doing more of the same on a greater scale across the same sectors. The new capabilities, capacities, expertise – the new synergies – give rise to engaging existing and potential customers in a way that is likely entirely unique to the industry.
One, tangible change is the speed of mobilisation within the business. The merger has moved the business towards the notion of a team of teams, poised to provide customers with a solution or to meet an unmet need. Recently we were pitching to a key, Middle East-based customer when, after listening to their requirements, it became clear that we’d need to mobilise another part of the business.
The customer was amazed at the speed in which we could rise to their challenges. In fact, we were almost surprised ourselves. The teams had never met, let alone worked on a project together, but the unending energy and enthusiasm of all involved allowed us to bring something entirely new to the table. In the same fashion as neurons and synapses in the brain, new connections are forged and reinforced across the business on a daily basis – new skills, new knowledge, new organisational memory.
This is a real boon for the region which is seeing increasingly complex projects and significant levels of investment in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi and Qatar. With almost double the number of experts ready to mobilise onto projects at a moment’s notice, it’s a proposition that our key, global accounts are just as excited about as we are. At the same time, as experts come together, new centers of knowledge are appearing, bolstered by knowledge transfer processes to more fully integrate teams.
A knowledge culture
Worley has operated in the Middle East since the mid-90s and has, since its arrival, instilled a culture of upskilling its local workforce hiring talent from within local geographies, as well as training and development. In Oman for example, of the 1,000 strong team, between 35-40% are Omanis, and the percentage is very much the same for Saudi Arabia.
More recently the focus has shifted to make a success of providing more opportunities for local women and for upskilling. In Saudi Arabia we witnessed a significant uptick in the number of well-educated, enthusiastic young women that simply need an opportunity to learn sector-specific skills. That’s why in 2018 we opened our very own academy. It offers around 300 courses providing training across all disciplines and helps us make the most of this new resource. It is also available to our customers to help them take up these opportunities too.
It’s a concept that has been so successful that discussions are now taking place with governments in other countries to expand the reach of the academy: the huge swathe of unemployed under-25s in Saudi Arabia being just one demographic that could stand to benefit substantially.
What this means for customers
While the dust settles on the functional aspects of the merger, an undertone of change continues, one that will reach to the very heart of the business’ core.
Rather than a single event, the merger is a catalyst to a great, chemical reaction that will transform customer experience in the Middle East. For many years, customer relationships have been framed by tired procurement processes: transactional and contractual. Underlined by the new capabilities forged by mixing enthusiasm, expertise and heritage, the merger presents an opportunity to create a break in the paradigm to reframe customer engagement and customer experience.
As the energy transition evolves in the Middle East, the value add will be the culmination of all this new capacity and capability to bring market insight-based solutions to our customers. Success tomorrow will not be about solving customers’ business issues of the day, but about proactively engaging and bringing new concepts and value propositions that help customers meet their long term and evolving needs.