Asian Business people having a meeting.

With experienced professionals retiring faster than technical graduates are joining the industry, the ability to attract, retain and develop highly talented people has become a business imperative. In this article we examine how Indonesia’s national oil company, Pertamina, enhanced its graduate development programme.

Maximising the technical ability of its workforce is a principal corporate value for Pertamina, which, like other oil and gas companies, is facing huge exploration and production challenges. To ensure that it continued to build the pipeline of high-calibre talent that is critical for future projects, its management team evaluated the value proposition for graduates.

“We found that our graduate development programme was not always providing a compelling reason for talent to come to us,” says Rahardjo, Vice President Upstream Technology, Pertamina. “We did not have a structured process or framework for developing graduates. The content and duration of our graduate development programmes varied across disciplines, our review and assessment processes were not consistent and we were not always providing graduates with the right experiences. To meet our aspiration of attracting and retaining highly talented people we had to do better.”

Shell is widely recognised as having one of the best graduate development programmes in the industry. Rob Bevan, Senior Performance Improvement and Implementation Manager, Shell Global Solutions emphasises that it was crucial that Pertamina should adapt this graduate programme to meet its needs. “If Pertamina had attempted to simply apply the Shell programme it would not have worked because the two organisations are quite different, so it was vital that it was tailored to their specific requirements,” he says. “What we codeveloped with Pertamina had many similarities to the Shell programme.”

"We found that our graduate development programme was not always providing a compelling reason for talent to come to us"

Three graduates having a meeting

Working together

The first discipline that Pertamina wanted to focus on was reservoir engineering. This would be a pilot project to be followed by drilling and then other disciplines.

Bevan facilitated a series of workshops that brought together experienced reservoir engineering professionals, line managers and human resources professionals from Pertamina and a subject matter expert from Shell. Working collaboratively, they co-created the graduate development framework and its content.

According to Bevan, this process was about bringing together distinctive, but complementary, viewpoints. “The Pertamina representatives brought a vitally important perspective of their own business’s requirements, objectives and processes, whereas the Shell specialist contributed knowledge of how Shell tackles this specific discipline area,” he comments.

In technical disciplines such as reservoir engineering it is common to identify the technical competences that a graduate should develop. However, whereas Shell typically defines about six to eight of these, Pertamina had as many as 40. Because it can be difficult and expensive to assess individuals in that many areas the team focused on gathering these skill elements into competence families. In this way, it created six reservoir engineering competences for Pertamina.

Another area of focus was workplace assignments. “A key element of a workplace assignment is defining what practical experiences an individual needs to achieve the required competence level,” says Bevan. This addressed questions such as: Where in the organisation should you place them to get the most appropriate experience for their needs? What teams should they work in? What type of projects should they be involved with?


When delivering organisational effectiveness programmes such as this, Shell Global Solutions places importance on transferring knowledge and skills to its customers so that they can go on to undertake similar projects themselves in the future.

During the reservoir engineering pilot, the team of Pertamina and Shell Global Solutions specialists created a series of templates that define, for example, what a workplace assignment should contain. These templates were then used when repeating the process for the second discipline, drilling. Pertamina is now using the methodology that the team established to tackle a further three disciplines on its own

Refinery pipes

Enhanced value proposition for graduates

This work, says Rahardjo, has substantially enhanced the quality of Pertamina’s graduate development programme. “It is now more structured and effective as we have clearly defined standards across the organisation,” he says. “Whichever technical discipline a graduate is learning, they will have a consistent three year programme with value adding workplace assignments plus six monthly reviews by trained assessors. Crucially, the structure and content are in line with industry best practice.”

Rahardjo adds that Pertamina intends to apply this framework across all its upstream disciplines and to its downstream organisation.

What value has this brought to Pertamina? “We now have a much stronger value proposition for potential new recruits,” says Rahardjo. “It is early days of course but, in time we expect this to translate into clear benefits in terms of staff attraction and retention.”

"We now have a much stronger value proposition for potential new recruits"

MORE IN Global Solutions

Refinery Technology Licensing

Shell Global Solutions provides an extensive refining technology portfolio to introduce new hardware into refineries, helping refiners improve refineries margins, by optimising process and equipment performance.

IMPACT magazine

‘Shell Global Solutions’ Impact magazine provides information and insights on energy industry issues and trends, new technology, case studies, events and more.