The power of competence transfer in the oil industry

As we continue to see new reports and discussions on the decline of talent coming into the industry, isn’t it time to take a new approach to recruitment – one in which we consider transferable skills, diversity and better staff retention techniques to drive the industry forward?

At this year’s UEIL Annual Congress, ABN Resource recruitment director, James Moorhouse, delivered a speech about the power of competence transfer and why the lubricants market should embrace it to find new talent. Here’s what James discussed on the stage.

Why should we care about competence transfer?

The market landscape has shifted

Firstly, let’s consider how much the lubricants industry has changed as a whole over the last 10 years. We’ve seen a dramatic shift in the landscape, with increased technologically advanced synthetic products, the rise of new territories, new market entrants, digitalisation and new route to market strategies. 

We’re clearly a market which is open to change and evolution, so why can’t we apply this modern thinking to how we recruit? Isn’t it time we shifted our thinking from ‘my employees need direct experience in the market’ to, ‘what skills can they bring to the table which would benefit the business?’.

An evolving career ladder

As we live longer and change faster, it’s no longer the norm for individuals to stay in the same industry or job for the entirety of their working life. In fact, we know the first person who will live until 150 years old has already been born! So can we really expect retirement at 60 anymore?

It’s important to retain experienced talent in the sector as we recruit new talent into the industry, so knowledge can transfer effectively. Equally, we shouldn’t discount those older workers who are outside of the industry, as they hold valuable different perspectives and can, therefore, bring with them new innovations and creative ideas to the market.

Cognitive & Demographic diversity is good for business

And it’s not just in age where we should push for diversity. We also need cognitive diversity in the workforce in order to take advantage of new opportunities. We need people from different backgrounds and disciplines asking why, bringing in new ideas and prompting new discussions.

A McKinsey study (which surveyed 365 companies around the world) found that those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. A great example of why diversity is so good for business!

Evolving Industry Trends

Another consideration when thinking about competence transfer, is the fact that bringing in top talent outside of industry, in order to develop new ways to serve customers, will ultimately help to improve your market position and reduce your business blind spots.

Don’t wait for a competitor to figure out how to serve your customers better (sorry Blockbuster!) instead, be like Netflix or Uber, putting your business at the forefront of driving change, to avoid being left behind in a competitive market.

Fuel employee attraction & retention

Companies who actively hire diverse and differently skilled teams are actually more likely to attract and retain talent – something which we know is a pressing issue in our industry with the ever growing skills gap.  In fact, a Glassdoor survey found that two thirds of job hunters indicated that diversity was important to them when evaluating companies and job offers.

In a competitive global job market, demonstrating that your business is invested in fostering a multicultural and inclusive environment can make you stand out to the right candidates. The financial benefits should also be considered here. By retaining talent, you reduce expensive business costs needed to replace lost employees.

How do we know competence transfer works? 


We only need to take a look at some of the well-known success stories of our time to see the benefit of a career pivot.

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, worked as a product manager in banking before launching an online bookstore (the start of Amazon) at 31 years old.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger went from bodybuilder, to real estate mogul, to film star, to governor!
  • Bill gates moved from Microsoft into philanthropy. 

These examples are living proof that you can go from dominating one area of work to another, if you’re passionate enough about it.


And what about our own industry success stories? There are plenty of exceptional individuals who originally started their careers outside of industry and went on to achieve great things. From Morris Lubricants MD, Chris Slezakowski, who moved from construction to lubricants, to the CEO of Neste, Peter Vanacker, who moved into the market from a chemical background. We’ve seen effective skill transfers into lubricants countless times – including salespeople, medical, motorbikes, even confectionery.


And what about you? How many of us wanted to be in this industry at university or school age? My guess is not the majority, so we ourselves are living proof that new skills  can be learnt and add significant value to the industry!

Next steps

Now that you understand the benefits of what competence transfer can bring to the market, read James’ article on how to determine if an individual has the right skills to make a transfer successful in your business. Find the full article on your competence transfer toolkit.

Want to be notified of the latest articles? Sign up to our newsletter to stay in the know.