‘God is Brazilian!’ – Those were the patriotic words of Brazil’s president Lula da Silva, upon hearing of the recent discovery of new oil fields off the coast of Brazil which – if current estimates prove to be correct – could place Brazilian oil reserves level with those of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The blocks are 170 miles off the coast, under both deep water and thick layers of salt, so drilling them promises to be technically very challenging. Yet the potential profit is so great that Brazil has become the focus of all major international oil companies searching for new reserves, including British-based BP.
While it has a strong presence in the Gulf of Mexico, BP was one of the few international companies with no assets in Brazil, at least until this week when it announced the beginning of a joint venture with US based Devon Energy. As part of the joint venture agreement BP has bought the American firm’s precious oil fields off the Brazilian coast, and has secured the future development of its oil sands in Canada.
The challenges posed by an international business venture of the size and importance BP is embarking on are many. Establishing new operations in foreign countries, or taking over the management of pre-existing ones require both technical know-how and a sound awareness of the cultural differences in business practices new and existing employees are likely to encounter. Communicaid has worked alongside a number of international oil and gas companies providing tailored cross cultural training programmes to ensure employees have the right level of cultural knowledge and skills required to be successful when doing business in other cultures.
Cross cultural training programmes have included pre-assignment training for existing staff and their families prior to relocation. Programmes like Living and Working in Saudi Arabia provide employees and their families with the necessary input to live and work successfully in the target destination.
Communicaid has also delivered a number of tailored cross cultural training programmes for business and management to a number of large oil companies. These programmes are designed ad-hoc with each organisation’s specific needs in mind and therefore vary in both nature and content.
One of the most common requirements international oil companies have identified is the need to train key decision makers to successfully Manage International Teams. The nature of the energy industry means that teams will most likely be composed of highly qualified and experienced individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Creating a successful team spirit and working environment, bridging any possible cultural difference, therefore becomes key for the team’s success, and ultimately for that of the whole organisation.
Communicaid’s cross cultural training programmes are delivered by trainers with vast experience of the country of destination so they bring first hand experience and understanding of the potential problems that can occur both in the workplace and in ever-day situations in another culture. Training is highly interactive, allowing delegates to develop a concrete awareness of the cultural differences they will encounter and personalised ways of dealing with them.
While the race for Brazil’s black gold is most definitely on, unlike most races the first one to get there is not necessarily the winner. Many international joint ventures are known to have failed with the passing of time, often due to a lack of cross cultural awareness by all parties involved.
Communicaidhas long recognised the risks to global organisations of ignoring cross cultural differences in international operations and has developed a vast network of trainers and a rich database of materials to provide international companies the training they need to avoid lost money and time and give them the competitive edge.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2010