Snamprogetti engineering prowess

An interview with Peter Evett, Manager of Engineering, and Alun Thomas, Manager of Human Resources, From Snamprogetti Ltd.

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Snamprogetti engineering prowess

An interview with Peter Evett, Manager of Engineering, and Alun Thomas, Manager of Human Resources, From Snamprogetti Ltd.

“It seems sensible to start with the company name. Snamprogetti – that’s unusual?”

PE “We’re an Italian parented company. The headquarters of the UK operation is in Basingstoke, and the worldwide headquarters is in Milan. We’re part of the 6th largest oil company in the world.”

AT “That enables us to offer opportunities around the world within both Snamprogetti and ENI.”

Q “Yes, Alun, but surely all companies claim to be able to do this – but does it really happen?”

AT “Yes it does. This year we’ve transferred 4 employees internationally from Basingstoke to other parts of the group. Quite simply, if we can keep our personnel and give them what they want, isn’t that better than losing their expertise to a competitor?”

Q “I have heard speculation that Snamprogetti Ltd in Basingstoke is not financially sound? Could you comment on that?”

PE “2004 was not great financially. We do not try to hide that. But with the steps put in to change and ‘re-engineer’ the company, we have turned things around and have shown a profit for 2005. The fact we’re now doing so well is testimony to the effort of the staff as well as the encouragement and support that we’ve received from the group.”


Q “OK, Peter, so you’ve got the finances straight, but do you have the workload to sustain the company?”

PE “Yes we do. Our projected workload is very healthy and we’re working on projects as far and wide as Morocco to Kazakhstan, Nigeria to Iran. Also, we’d not be hiring new people if we didn’t have the workload!”

Q “On the subject of hiring, what people are you looking for?”

AT “Engineers and project services personnel in the main. Ideally with experience in the petrochemical contracting business. We really want people with around 8 years’ experience and in the current climate they’re not easy to find.”

Q “But surely you find it easy to recruit new members of staff?”

AT “Quite the opposite – there’s a UK shortage of engineering and support talent. Our objective is to build on the strong and effective teams we now have.”

Q “So why would an experienced engineer want to join Snamprogetti?”

PE “Let’s be honest, Snamprogetti will not suit everyone. We’re building a unique culture and have a certain style that some people fit into very well. Those are the people we’re after. We’re looking for the type of person who wants to become involved; not at a superficial level, really involved – hands-on. We want people who’ll enjoy working in teams where you do many jobs, rather than working in one big team. We want people who crave exposure, on a daily basis, to the most senior engineers and managers in the company – people who see that as an opportunity to learn from the best, rather than be intimidated by the seniority or position.”

AT “Responsibility plays a key part in our work- in a small team you need those who’ll work together and pull together – you must take responsibility for your actions; but, equally, we wasn’t you to act or speak up. We want ideas, we want thoughts and suggestions.”

PE “If you are an engineer reading this and you are more concerned with the current process and how we do things now, then you are, perhaps, not right for us. I am after the engineer who looks at how successfully we did the last project and instinctively says ‘how do we make it better the next time.”

Q “Are you really saying that you give all this responsibility without accountability for actions?”

AT “No, that is not what we’re saying. What we’re trying to get across is a fundamental cultural issue. Speak your mind and we’ll respect it. Use your initiative, and we’ll respect it. We want our employees to feel that their opinions and contributions are both valued and wanted. As far as I’m concerned, the company survives and grows through the efforts and energies of its employees. How much better can the company perform if the employees want to make a difference and know that they’re encouraged to do so? It’s not that radical – many Companies are doing it. But we think it is quite radical within an engineering company. That’s where we are trying to differentiate ourselves.”

Q “What about the growth potential for people and their careers?”

PE “Engineers can be very conservative by nature and very good at the technical detail. We help people become more ‘rounded’. So, we look at the individual and tailor additional development and/or training accordingly. To some that may mean improving the people or communication skills; to others it might be their presentation ability; team skills, commercial nouse, and management skills – they can all be taught and we invest heavily in our own people and that enables them to grow and do a bigger and better job. We then recruit under them and allow them to grow their team.”


Q “How do you fair when it comes to the remuneration package – I always find companies very cagey about this aspect of employment.”

AT “I guess this one’s down to me then? Our commitment to training and development is huge – that helps people in their future career, wherever that may lie. Our pension scheme is one of the best in the industry; all employees benefit from private medical and it covers their spouse and children as well; and we have a good flexi-time scheme. But everyone wants to know what they are going to earn. Of course, salaries are always confidential, so we cannot be specific, but what I would say to you is this; if we have the right person at interview and they feel that we’re the right company for them, the offer we make will rarely given them a problem. Actually, that’s not true – because the offer we make often will given them a problem, because they then have to make a decision!”

“That’s been fascinating, thank you gentlemen.”

If you are reading this and would like to know more, then you can send me an email – by all means include that CV –