Thailand's national petroleum exploration and production company, PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) won the bronze award for 'Best Succession Planning Strategy' at the Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore.

On the achievement, we interview Chayong Borisuitsawat, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Corporate Affairs, and Assurance Group, PTTEP, (pictured above) to find out more about this strong communications strategy that helped build trust and resilience among staff, to stay and strive through difficult times like COVID.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?

The right succession preparation was always key to keeping both executive management and specialist positions ready to be replaced at the right balance and in the most suitable conditions.

PTTEP faced many challenges and obstacles in terms of people and organisational management e.g., the retirement of many key positions, movement of key persons due to business expansion, and more. We went through a trial and experimental process throughout the past few years until we transformed into the systematic and collaborative succession planning strategy we have now, which includes our high-potential talent assessment and leadership development plan.

Consequently, this allowed us to achieve both replacement targets and talent management transformation to ensure the company was enabled to maintain talented people and inspire them with clearer career paths and opportunities to grow in higher positions and in wider scope of responsibility. 

Understanding and meeting your employees’ needs and expectations is never an easy feat. How did PTTEP identify the business & employee needs, and craft out the perfect solution? 

Our people are a key success factor in driving PTTEP and the exploration & production (E&P) industry towards a better and sustainable future.

While ensuring the right balance between people’s expectations and the company’s goals and direction, we were not looking for the perfect solution, but the most suitable one for that particular time.

As such, regarding sustainable people management, we always listen closely to and communicate with our people through various approaches, for example, through employee engagement survey, voice of customer survey, one-on-one feedback, management talks, etc. These approaches allow us to assess employees' thoughts even more comprehensively and then, come up with the appropriate solutions and the right answers for employees.

We ensure that all essential requirements from our people are carefully listened to and fulfilled to maintain the right understanding between the company and employees, for example, required business performance results, people and organisational issues, career growth, etc.

Moreover, we expect everyone to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace to respect all differences. This could be an engine to gear the company towards success in the most creative and profitable ways for the business. 

How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in PTTEP?

Our strategy provides a deeper understanding and a better materialised pathway to our staff on how they can achieve success in their careers, supported by the competency development system and challenging assignments for them to perform effectively.

Based on increasing scores in the 2021 'Voice of Customer Survey' in leadership development, we found employee engagement getting linked further with the company's career development programme. Our succession planning strategy and leadership development provided a clearer view of career opportunities. Many opportunities were provided to inspire and motivate our people to challenge themselves in terms of driving their capability and stepping out of their comfort zone to expand their expertise into areas that better answer business needs.

In addition, supervisors significantly showed their participation and support throughout the programme to develop their talents successfully. 

Could you offer some recommendations to your peers across industries for implementing something similar for their own EX foundation? 

Not focusing on a single spot, but the company needs to consider the entire succession and transformation plan in one holistic picture. Despite the aim of filling management vacancies, we were also creating a collaborative succession planning process that involved the entire top management, not limited to direct line management. Building commitment and supportive actions from across management will shape up the efficiency of leadership development direction which leads to the successor’s readiness.

Most importantly, a replacement needs to be anticipated in every position, keeping in mind any risks to the business, in order to ensure we're able to maintain performance perfectly and sustainably in terms of business growth. 

If you were to reflect, what is one thing you’ll do differently in executing this strategy? 

PTTEP is facing many challenges e.g. emerging technological trends, unsustainable operations, and business running activities. Therefore, sustainable development with an innovative vision has become a concept of clear guidance for us in terms of organisation and people development.

Looking back to what we carried through in our strategy design, we prioritised a focus on developing the effective fundamentals of systematic succession planning to fulfill upcoming business requirements. In the next step, we will surely expand our target requirements to wider business dimensions in order to strengthen our succession planning process as one of the most effective mechanisms in driving the company to face new challenges.

Prior to identifying possible requirements in new business area, the management team must be aligned to clearly see the company's future opportunities. This will lead the company to be better linked in filling the gap between current and future business competencies, supported by HR, to pave the way in deciding, designing, and delivering a sustainable organisational growth. 

Looking ahead, how is PTTEP going to take this winning strategy higher and further in the coming years?  

The wider picture of our next people strategy considers the fact that business conditions will become more challenging due to the advancement of technology and fast-changing global trends. As such, the organisation needs a clearer and wider vision to shift the organisation into the next step.

With emphasis on being a leading company in the oil and gas industry, PTTEP has adopted a new guiding principle in shaping mindsets. We encourage our people to be more agile and resilient to adapt themselves quickly and in a timely manner to all fast-changing situations that impact change in the business. This will lead us to become even more exceptional in turning challenges into opportunities to grow. Upskilling through multi-tasking knowledge and digital acumen will be added to our new capability development scheme.

On the other hand, we need to redesign our internal processes aided by digital technology to create better alignment among the business processes and effective cross-functional collaboration.

In terms of strengthening team spirit, we are focusing on building a team-based mindset to embrace 'one team, one goal, one voice' to have more potential to grow and move faster. 

10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR? 

When we talk about HR's function, most strategies should focus on accelerating people to unlock their full potential and capacity. In the coming future, we see HRs professionals being courageous and curious to challenge existing mindset that need to be changed in order to attain new and more efficient ways of working through the active participation of every employee.

In doing so, understanding business acumen and utilising every technology, including digitalisation, will replace traditional skills and become the top strategy for HR to create the best employee experience. And this could ensure the consistent alignment of business and people strategies, which will also encourage employees to embrace opportunities for their career growth and support their wellbeing through various approaches.


Photo / Provided (featuring the interviewee, Chayong Borisuitsawat)

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