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5 minutes with Koenraad Herrebout
Manager; Technical Assistance; Troubleshooting Refining and Base Chemicals, Total

What support does Total give to young refiners in terms of training and employee development?

The first training on the job, of course this is not sufficient so there is some more general training courses that are given internally by our training organisation – introduction to refining, more detailed courses on processes etc

Training courses from BASF and Grace, we send out your new engineers to these companies for training, we have also a troubleshooting course that we hold twice a year but this can change due to demand – we have two courses of refining and petrochemical courses which last around 3 days. Then on top of this we have our internal networks, which is headed up by the specialist in that domain who is available for people to use.

Everyday support – I head up the troubleshooting department – if they don’t see a solution then they will contact us, we try to help as much as possible try to identify the problem and find the solution. We can bring specialists together – for each of the processes we have a network headed up by the specialist.

Every major company has some kind of technical support – maybe BP less so because they have less central services. What might be unique in our approach is that we have a dedicated team who are fire fighters – immediate solutions and these people od not do anything else – they are ready to come in, tackling issues – this is unique within total to have a dedicated email to provide the first aid.

Do you think there is a problem with talent retention in this industry general and have you experience this at your company?

We have more internal rotations. We don’t have ‘kids’ come in these days. They’re always so anxious to move into the next job, the pace is much faster.

You need about a year to get up to speed and know exactly what you’re doing, and then they only have a year to do the job properly before they start to look for a new role.

With the growth of renewables and alternative fuels becoming a reality, do you think that the uncertainty about the industry future of the oil industry is an influencing factor on the number of young people building a career in this sector?

There are more attractive areas such as biotechnology, its county to country in Belgium we don’t have such a cool reputation, but in France we seem to be a more attraction to Total – bets payers in the market. . The money in its industry tends to be better than in the newer energy businesses – if the money is good then people will continue to work for us.

Koenraad’s top tips:

  • Remember to always put in lots of effort and work hard at your role, there is always something new to learn and you have to put in the time to excel in your role.
  • In each role you need a year to get up to speed and know exactly what you’re doing, and then they only have a year to do the job properly before they start to look for a new role – don’t rush into new roles in this industry, become experienced in what you do before looking for the next role.
  • Top tip – stick at it, the money in this industry tends to be better than in the newer energy businesses!
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