Interview with Joke van Wieringen

Joke van Wieringen, Corporate Learning & Development Manager, KPI

Joke has more than 40 years’ experience in Human Resources in the oil and gas industry. She has worked for Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), the downstream marketing and refining subsidiary of Kuwait’s state-owned oil industry, since 1983.  During her multi-national career, she has worked in the UK, Kuwait and the Netherlands.

1. How do the challenges that NOCs face differ from IOCs when it comes to developing and maintaining a highly trained workforce?

A challenge faced by NOCs is that they have to focus on employing their national workforce and IOCs are comparatively freer in choosing where they source their employees from. When I was working in the Middle East I noted that the NOCs tend to have a little bit more loyalty from their staff, they are very well paid and therefore unlikely to move to a competitor. Comparatively, IOCs have access to a ‘wall of talent’ so there is a bit more of a challenge to maintain this talent.

2. The low oil price has had a profound effect on the way that companies approach educating and training their workforce, what will be the long term effects of this?

I’m sure that the low oil price has an effect in the short term not just on training but on a wider scale. For example at KPI the benefits were not felt for a long time and now all of a sudden they are reviewing and adjusting according to the current situation. In the longer term things will even out again when the oil prices goes up and this will have a positive effect in multiple areas including training and development.

3. How does KPI look to bridge the gap between university graduates and work-ready industry professionals?

We have an internal training programme for which we recruit fresh graduates and people with very limited industry experience. Over the course of this programme the trainees learn all sorts of information about business trends, processes, principles and strategies. The aim of this course is that when they go into their first developmental role they already have an extensive knowledge and rich portfolio of information about the company, rather than just putting a new graduate into a refinery where for the first years of their career they will only see their own department. It is important to us that university graduates learn about the oil industry from a global and company perspective.

4. How does KPI engage academic institutions to ensure Kuwaitis can take up positions in the company?

We work with the Erasmus University in Holland for this particular programme, but also within our own company we have Kuwait corporate academy where we have development programme from a graduate level up to senior management. We work with a number of institutions and create tailor made programmes based on exactly what we want to achieve in terms of competencies and skillsets. Something that I have noticed in this industry is that companies are now more willing to invest money into their talent, the focus is on getting the right people onto the right courses instead of a one size fits all approach to training.


5. Why do you think events such as Getenergy’s MENA are so important for the Oil Industry?

And is there anything you are particularly looking forward to at MENA 2017?

What I always like about the Getenergy event is their passion towards development and education for the sector. Getenergy are focused on bringing together academic training providers in order to confront issues and provide solutions to these issues.

I love the way their programmes are brought together, you can see that the staff of Getenergy have the passion and determination for what they do and I like these events so much as I share this passion. When facing issues and demands you can achieve a lot more when working collaboratively, not only from an academic and education point of view but also from a company perspective.

Joke will be taking part in the panel discussion ‘Strategies for maintaining a well trained workforce’ on 27th January at VTEC MENA 2017.