By the SandRose Editorial Team

How do you define personal resilience?

I see resilience as the ability to overcome setbacks quickly. A resilient person is not just a persistent individual, but also someone who learns from challenges and builds up a mindset to deal with setbacks. And I think resilience comes down to two basic qualities: flexibility and strength. Being adaptable and quick thinking on your feet and at the same time having a strong sense of purpose in order to guide you through difficult situations. And I believe if you want to be resilient whatever your work or profession, you have to learn how to manage stress and be decisive.

Amin H. Nasser is the
President & CEO of
Saudi Aramco

This interview is a collaboration between SPE-KSA and Aramco’s Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB)

Amin H. Nasser is the
President & CEO of
Saudi Aramco

This interview is a collaboration between SPE-KSA and Aramco’s Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB)

What are some of the career experiences that helped you develop your own sense of resilience, and what did you learn?

I have been fortunate that I have had quite a lot of opportunities and also the experiences to build personal resilience during my career. Part of this comes from my interest to always try to challenge myself. For example, during my early years at Aramco, I purposely chose an offshore assignment. I received good advice from more experienced colleagues who had told me that as a petroleum engineer I would learn more offshore than on any other remote assignment. I am glad I listened as they were right, proving experience is just as valuable as education. Anyway, it was not the most convenient or comfortable option and it was certainly not the easiest option. But facing difficulties and learning to manage challenges during various situations is a great way to build your resilience.

Looking at Aramco now, I see many young employees are also out in remote areas. It isn’t the most glorious posting. It is tough work. They have to do some heavy lifting, literally. And often in very high temperatures. They are also disconnected from family and friends and away from the excitement and comforts of modern city or urban lifestyle. But each one of these individuals is taking on these challenges is also developing a more resilient mindset that will serve them well, both professionally and personally. As a result, they will almost certainly excel beyond other individuals of their generation who lack resilience.

How do you view Aramco’s resilience and what are the factors underlying this institutional resilience?

The attacks on Aramco facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in September 2019 by far are the most compelling example of our resilience. And when I say ‘our’, I am referring to the resilience of our leaders at all levels as well as the resilience of our company and also the resilience of our assets. In terms of the attacks, once the world heard what had happened and saw the aftermath, if you recall when the oil markets opened for trading that week, prices jumped by double digits. Some out there predicted it would take us months and years to recover. What they underestimated and what the world didn’t yet properly appreciate was the resilience of Aramco.

What they underestimated and what the world didn’t yet properly appreciate was the resilience of Aramco.

Thankfully, there were no serious injuries or casualties. And then production resumed at Khurais within 24 hours and Abqaiq shortly after. Additional people, equipment and resources were also brought in from other parts of the company which helped accelerate the recovery. As a result, in just 11 days we were back to pre-attack production level, and we ensured that not a single shipment to any of our international customers were missed or canceled.

Our rapid and full recovery was only possible because of the resilience of our leadership at all levels of the organization. People were empowered to make rapid decisions, were well-trained and knew exactly what to do in a split second and moment. Our organizational resilience was put to the test. Over the last few years we had built a localized supply chain that meant equipment and resources could be brought in quickly. I will also give credit to our asset resilience, and by this, I mean we had the right systems, the right emergency response procedures in place and the right people who had been trained to put into practice what they had learned during such moments. Also, our equipment and facilities were well maintained, so everything worked as intended when it was needed the most. For example, the Abqaiq facility processes over half of our daily crude output and it is equipped with a safety system, which was used to divert most of the fuel away from the fire when the attacks happened.

The world was watching and we delivered. I should add that these attacks and our recovery also came at a time when our company was already under more global scrutiny than ever before given our initial public offering (IPO) was set to happen just a few months later. Again, some people underestimated Aramco’s resilience as the attacks did not derail our IPO as they had predicted.

Finally, do you believe that resilience is different between the generations?

I do think people’s resilience is influenced by the challenges their particular generation faces, so therefore it is natural for there to be some differences. But that said, the core of resilience remains the same: adapting to and overcoming disappointments and challenges, all of which are a normal part of life.

Now when it comes to developing leaders, I also believe resilience is critical to good leadership. Indeed, becoming more resilient does not only help shape your character but also potentially your career. This is particularly true today as many people, many professions, many companies, and many industries are facing significant and evolving challenges.

Consider the rapid rise of Artificial Intelligence. It has been estimated that AI could increase global GDP by 14% by 2030. And it has the potential to transform entire industries as well as the jobs of millions of individuals with more than half of all companies having implemented generative AI in some areas of their business. I have also seen predictions that AI will create more jobs and new roles than it replaces. So clearly, AI is having and will continue to have a big impact and as a result it will also create opportunities for resilient people.

AI is having and will continue to have a big impact and as a result it will also create opportunities for resilient people.

Another challenge is climate change. In the energy industry, we are facing growing pressure to find more ways to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, we are also expected to continue to do what we have done for decades, namely to supply reliable, safe, ample, and affordable energy for the daily benefit of billions of people around the world. The simple reality is that there is no other industry in the world that contributes as much to human progress, to travel and to trade. The other reality is that oil and gas cannot be replaced quickly and will remain a key contributor in the global energy mix for decades to come. All of which means energy is the industry where people should go to work if they want to have the greatest impact on humanity and the greatest opportunity to help find solutions to address climate change. Of course, they will need to be resilient to succeed in this business.

The simple reality is that there is no other industry in the world that contributes as much to human progress.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *