Finding an Upstream Leader for an Oil & Gas Multinational

Our client is a leading European Oil & Gas business, operating in over 33 countries and employs 25,000+ worldwide. The business was facing an ongoing requirement to appoint an SVP Upstream Production with significant production operations experience who could lead the organisation to achieve its goals.

Their internal recruitment team had previously attempted to appoint someone, however, this had been unsuccessful due to the combination of a niche skill set requirement, relocation, and larger competitors with stronger brands and remuneration on offer. The client had been attempting to fill this vacancy for two years and the need to take a new approach became evident.

6 Group had previously worked with the client organisation, successfully completing a search for a divisional CEO. For this reason, we were invited along with other global search firms from the client’s PSL to discuss our approach. Following this, 6 Group was selected as the search partner for this critical assignment.


The ideal person for this role was someone who had the necessary skills to deliver safe, efficient and cost-effective services to the E&P flagships and international operators and to the exploration group in the case of new ventures, in accordance with the client’s business plan.

Strong production operations experience was vital, as well as the right level of leadership capability and the skillset with an international profile, to be able to deliver on the business’ strategic promises.

However, 6 Group was aware that this was a very niche senior position which could result in some challenges when looking for appropriate talent. Additionally, this role was geographically dependent and, therefore, candidates would have to be willing to relocate.


6 Group visited the client’s European head office to work with the client to establish the functional and behavioural competencies of the role. After taking the brief, a detailed and client-branded Candidate Briefing Document was created by 6 Group’s Marketing Division on the client’s behalf. This comprised a detailed company profile, statements from relevant business leaders regarding the importance of the role, a full job description, functional/competency requirements, and package details.

As with all of our executive search clients, it was pivotal that we created a Candidate Briefing Document which truly empowered the client’s brand to present them as an employer of choice amongst their target talent community.

Our global Research & Intelligence Division went to market with a clear idea of who they were looking for. 6 Group utilised a multitude of channels including:

  • Company target list: We build a highly relevant list of competitor organisations identified by 6 Group with exceptional, relevant talent
  • Referrals: 6 Group has worked extensively across the global Oil & Gas market for over 12 years and our network of industry leaders are a trusted source of recommendations
  • Social media: Our Research & Intelligence Division is a pioneer in candidate identification and engagement via social networks
  • Networking events: We hold a strong awareness of ongoing events within the international Oil & Gas market and engage exceptional delegates through this medium

6 Group utilised the channels above to identify and engage candidates who met the scope of the role and conducted ongoing functional assessments as an early assessment process. Functional competencies we assessed candidates against included; Production & Operations, Capital Projects, Drilling Expertise and Technical Standards & Specification.

Those excelling in the functional competency assessment and who matched the ‘perfect candidate’ criteria, progressed to a full competency-based interview with the Senior Client Partner leading the search. Behavioural competencies for the assessment included; Analysis & Decision-Making, Results Driven and Change Management.

Following this, 6 Group created a shortlist comprising the highest scoring four candidates. We travelled to meet the client’s key stakeholders to discuss the shortlist in detail. During this discussion, it became clear that to support the client’s future business plan, the business felt that they needed a candidate who wasn’t too project-focused in their previous experience and that their depth of production experience was of most interest to the business. One of the candidates on the shortlist was a very close match to this criteria and it was agreed they would be offered the role.

6 Group conducted the full offer management process on behalf of the client. As the selected candidate would have to relocate to another country for the role, we also assisted them by providing information on the local housing market, schools, community and fellow expats via our network who were living in the area.


Given the level of seniority and niche skillset required of the role, finding the right talent was a difficult exercise. The need for relocation was an added challenge and potential candidates tended to be from larger Oil & Gas businesses which resulted in issues around remuneration package. To combat this, 6 Group worked diligently on the promotion of the client’s vision, mission and culture to build excitement about the journey they’d be part of.

Although the end-to-end search process surpassed our average timeframe of 6.8 weeks the client was delighted at the outcome of the search, stating that they firmly believed they had the ideal person for the role.

Two months after the search was completed, the appointed SVP Upstream Production subsequently restructured their function and 6 Group was approached again to help the client’s business find a key member of the team. Following the same search process with changes to the behavioural and functional requirements, four candidates were shortlisted and all progressed to the interview stage. A successful placement was completed in August 2018.


Operating across EMEAI, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, 6 Group is one of the world’s most innovative Executive Search & Leadership Consulting firms across seven industries, including Oil & Gas

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