Company Leaders Must Embrace Strategy Of ‘Reinvention,’ Says Accenture CEO


Are oil and gas companies ready to be reinventors?

That provocatively simple question was posed by the chair and chief executive officer of Accenture during a plenary session Tuesday morning at the 24th World Petroleum Congress.

Julie Sweet asked whether the boards and leadership teams at petroleum companies embrace the idea of the need for continuous reinvention through the energy transition process.

“I think this is a very profound question [and] … it goes to the heart of companies — large companies who have been major players.”

Lots of companies are transformers, she added: “We’re going to take a function, we’re going to make it better — they optimize things.

“But reinvention says I’m actually going to lead…. And I think one of the biggest challenges is having the leadership team that can embrace that strategy.”

The process of becoming “wired” to be a reinventor starts with looking externally, Sweet said.

“At [your] company, do you measure how much time your leaders spend outside the company with customers, or in other kinds of organizations, not just ones that are very like-minded? Is that something that you actually look at as a leader?” she said.

Accenture tracks those metrics for its employees, with an email sent to staff that indicates how much time they spent externally versus internally, as well as how much time staff spent outside their business unit.

Those external relationships and partnership will be key in the energy transition, Sweet said.

“It’s more about working together differently, because that [the transition] cannot be solved by individual players in the end.”

As an example, she noted Accenture’s cross-industry partnership with Shell plc and American Express Global Business Travel to launch a program, known as Avelia, to help scale the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

A pilot phase aims to demonstrate the credibility of the program’s book-and-claim model, using blockchain technology, to ensure secured allocation of SAF’s environmental attributes to companies and airlines after the fuel has been delivered into the fuel network.

The fundamental idea is a platform that brings together airlines, corporations, cargo players and SAF suppliers within a trusted ecosystem that no individual company could build or access on its own.

The oil and gas industry has a history of developing and adopting new technologies, but Sweet says the question is less about whether the sector can achieve breakthroughs on the path to transition, and more so whether it can collaborate fast enough.

“I believe this industry has the knowledge and the ability to do what we need to do for the transition. But we need everyone to play their part.”

The companies that should reinvent are the ones with the greatest experience, networks and capital to get things done, added Sweet, noting it is an active decision that has to be made.

“I think it’s vital for [everyone in] this room to choose to be reinventors.”

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