This paper describes the Saudi Aramco Professional Onboarding Program (POP), a two-week multidisciplinary project-based program designed to accelerate the development of young engineers and their integration as contributors into the workforce. The POP initiates E&P new hires into the Saudi Aramco culture, serving as an initial bridge between academia and working in the company. The program is an introduction to the technical E&P environment and to the business and interpersonal skills required to be an effective and efficient professional. The project-based program provides participants the learning opportunity to develop lifelong, transferrable skills and values. The program also helps set the framework and context for future career development activities. The results of the pilot of the program will be presented, along with future plans for enhancing the program in anticipation of an E&P-wide rollout.


As the oil industry works it way through the sometimes violent throws of energy price swings, some of the underlying industry issues remain pertinent and must continue to be addressed. In a brief time span where large industry projects have been initiated/cancelled/postponed/restarted worldwide, and a worldwide recession has resulted in increasing job losses, the oil industry is still hiring and the crew-change is still underway. Oil companies taking a long-term view of the industry continue to aggressively hire new employees, and developing young professionals into independent contributors as quickly as possible is a top priority.

As companies scramble to replace a retiring workforce, they must also deal with retention issues in an extremely competitive market. The issue of employee retention has long been a favorite topic of discussion in the HR community. Research shows that the first six months of a new hire's tenure are critical to future employee retention and motivation. This suggests that the initial experience for new hires must be a good one, allowing them to integrate effectively into their new workplace and immediately feel engaged. Another critical factor impacting retention rates is the availability of training and career development opportunities. Companies that appreciate these concerns can take action by providing an engaging induction process for new hires, and ensuring that efficient professional development and training opportunities exist, are easily accessible, and are highlighted to new employees.1, 2, 3

The term 'onboarding' is used to refer to the process of integrating new employees into the organization. Ideally, this process will make new hires feel welcome and engaged, and prepare them to be productive contributors. Typical HR onboarding programs serve as a new employee orientation, familiarizing the new hires to the company's structure, policies, and benefits. The nature of these topics is somewhat dry, and care must be taken to avoid overwhelming participants with a barrage of paperwork and boring presentations. First impressions last, and care must be taken to provide a positive initial experience.

To be effective, onboarding must be extended beyond the typical HR efforts, and the technical organizations where engineers and geoscientists will work are responsible for accommodating this vital need. Thus, line organizations, including management, must help to facilitate the successful integration of new hire into the workforce.

Recent Graduates.

While the previous discussion is applicable to all new hires regardless of experience, hiring university graduates directly upon graduation poses additional development challenges that must also be addressed immediately. Dealing with newly hired recent graduates poses a twofold challenge: develop recent graduates with little or no experience into contributing employees as quickly as possible, while providing a positive experience (both initially and throughout their early careers) that will motivate them to be effective employees.

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