Home' HR Monthly : May 2018 Contents R
oland Houa reau believes that in order to
ma ke a complex organisationa l change
effective, it helps to deeply understand the
“I’ve previously worked in the field for almost
10 years on various projects all around the
country,” says the general manager of industrial
relations at INPEX, a Japanese-owned oil and
gas company. “In 2006-07, when I was working
for an oil and gas maintenance company,
I made about 80 trips to both onshore and
of fshore locations. This was when the resources
boom was just starting to take off.”
Houareau has seen the industry change
significantly over the last 15 years. “When I
started my first role in oil and gas in 2003,
Australia had only four liquefied natural gas
[LNG] processing trains [liquefaction and
pur ification facilities]. Fast for wa rd to 2018,
and we will have 21, making us the second
largest producer of LNG in the world.”
The rapid growth of the industry has meant
larger-scale projects and operations. These
LNG mega-projects have been executed by
international teams located across the globe.
In mid-2017, INPEX was preparing to sail its
two la rge offshore assets, Ichthys Explorer
and Ichthys Venturer, from South Korean
shipyards to the Ichthys Field, 220 kilometres
of f the Western Australia n coast. Houareau
was tasked with constructing the “employment
architecture”, predominantly made up of
“It was one of the largest, if not the largest,
offshore marine spread in the country. We
would have people living alongside the offshore
facilities in accommodation support vessels, so
it was a big undertaking,” he says.
Working it out
To maximise the success of the Ichthys project,
INPEX needed to improve the productivity of
its contractor base. Knowing the ins and outs
of a field-based workday enabled Houareau to
develop an innovative and cost-effective solution.
“We were facing cost constraints, so we needed
to apply new design practices and processes to
help us improve productivity,” he says.
Houareau’s deep understanding of life out in
the field helped him recognise that ingrained
practice around meal breaks was restricting
productivity and employee satisfaction.
In an average offshore workday, employees
take five formal sit-down meal breaks.
Each break requires a change in and out of
civilian clothes, a time-consuming exercise.
Considering the brevity of the first and third
break, Houareau’s initial innovation was to
condense the allotted time into two long meal
breaks. “We opened up the meal times across
a greater spread, enabling people to go when
they are actually hungry, rather than the narrow
times the meal centres used to be open,” he says.
The next step involved the creation of “dirty
cribs” – a place for workers to eat sandwiches,
fresh fruit and healthy snacks at their leisu re
while remaining in their work gear.
“We had no idea what the uptake would be.
But it turned out that a significant portion of our
workforce chose to make use of the dirty cribs in
Key to the solution’s design was that it was
offered rather than enforced. Houareau used
the AHRI Practising Certification Program
framework to help him manage the complexities
of the proposed change and develop a workforce-
“Our first principle was to find ways to give
back to our workforce,” he says.
“If there was no value for the workers,
what would be the incentive? They wouldn’t
engage with the change as readily.”
And the proof was in the pudding when
it came to the increased productivity levels.
After implementation, there was a measured
enhancement of approx imately 45 minutes
per person per calendar day across 1200
workers. “The redesign of the meal and break
architecture introduced a level of empowerment
that was intrinsically motivating and structured
to engender workforce trust. That really shone
through in our increased productivity levels.”
Houareau credits his k nowledge of the
field and his cross-cultural experience for his
ability to develop out-of-the-box, design-based
solutions. “Working across countries
and cultures is a positive, life-en riching
experience,” he says.
“In my opinion, HR leaders who are
culturally dextrous can make effective and
significant contributions to both business
These days Houareau is moored a little closer
to home, back in Perth, with his wife and two
children, and within reach of the small town of
Wongan Hills, where he spent his youth.
He is, however, no less busy. “I value
learning,” he says, and he means it.
After completing the certification program,
which he describes as “a valuable framework
to develop baseline skills and knowledge of the
people management discipline”, Houareau has
opted to undergo further study at INSEAD’s
Singapore campus to broaden his design
perspective. He is the embodiment of one
of AHRI’s key pillars: a commitment to
lifelong learning. •••
APC ENROLMENTS OPEN
FOR AUGUST INTAKE
Build the strengths and diversity of your HR
knowledge with the AHRI Practising Cer tification
Program and become an HR partner to the
business. Enrolments for the August intake close
on Monday 30 July.
May 2018 HRM magazine 27
23/4/18 4:40 pm
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