for an expatriate to manage projects due to language and cultural challenges,
Mr. Gustke says.
In response, Black & Veatch is focusing on grooming young local project
managers into leadership roles. “If we can blend the Black & Veatch way with
the China way, we can manage these projects more effectively,” Mr. Gustke
says. Shan Zhiqiang is one of those up-and-coming Chinese project managers.
A trained engineer, he joined the company’s Beijing office in 2004 as a project
discipline engineer and worked his way up to project manager in 2013. Along
the way, Black & Veatch provided him with mentors from the home office
and enrolled him in project management training programs, both an online
program offered by the company and a program in Beijing. “These experiences
were crucial in giving me foundational knowledge in project management and
international best practices,”
Today Mr. Shan is managing the engineering and
procurement services for a
power plant project located in
the city of Ipoh, Malaysia.
One piece of the project
management puzzle is making
sure Chinese equipment vendors meet Black & Veatch’s
global quality goals. This often
requires his team’s engineers
to review vendor designs and
personally inspect equipment
manufactured at the construction site.
“We play an important role
in supporting the suppliers
as they source through their
own supply chain,” he says.
“This isn’t often easy, but
when we get it right, it’s very
It can take years for orga-
nizations in the energy sec-
tor to develop skilled project
managers like Mr. Shan, but
ultimately the effort pays off in
reduced budget overruns and
improved project outcomes. “It’s not enough to have good project management
skills,” Mr. Gustke says. “Your team has to be familiar with the local business
practices, language and culture.”
Project managers routinely manage and mitigate risk. But those risks are a matter of life and death for Ahmed Abdessalem,PMI-RMP,PMP,aproject
services team leader for global oil and gas company
OMV. As he and his team work on a pipeline project in southern Tunisia, they must also contend
with terrorist organizations targeting energy infrastructure facilities in North Africa.
Earlier this year, Islamist militants attacked oil fields
and a pipeline in the eastern part of Libya, setting one
pipeline ablaze and halting production at Sarir, the
country’s largest oil field. In 2013, Islamist militants
attacked a gas plant in the Algerian Sahara, leading to
a four-day confrontation that left 29 attackers and at
least 37 of the plant’s foreign workers dead.
The terrorists’ goal is to undermine the stability
of the local economy and leadership. But the need
for power remains. So Mr. Abdessalem carries
A gas pipeline project in Tunisia requires
extraordinary security measures.
Given the sector’s talent crunch, many
organizations rely heavily on local subcontractors to keep energy projects moving.
That means building a support system of
training and oversight—and sometimes
“These big projects rely on a lot of small
local contractors and subcontractors,” that
“can’t always mobilize the people, resources
or equipment to keep up with the schedule,”
says Sanjay Kumar, former assistant vice
president of engineering, procurement and
construction, and power projects at Reliance
Infrastructure, Mumbai, India.
To mitigate this risk, his team’s project
plans often include accelerated payments
and shorter payment cycles to help “smooth
cash flow issues” that local subcontractors
may face. “In India, if you have a strong supply
chain of financially stable contractors, you can
deliver a project faster,” Mr. Kumar says.
It can also pave the way for the next
generation of power projects: “If you invest
in training and supporting local contractors
today, your future projects will go better.”