Boardroom briefing: the most important question in a new job, Facebook’s currency and the shale oil in trouble


A Human Resources guru tells us what’s the most important question in a new job, Facebook to launch its own currency, and the US shale oil industry could be in trouble. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

The most important question new staff should ask

Syd Yates (centre) with Kina Securities staff. Credit: Kina Securities

Ginger Gregory, Executive Vice-President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Biogen, a multinational biotechnology company based in the US, caught up with writer and podcaster Andy Molinsky to talk about her career.

During the interview, Andy asked Ginger about her tips for working with a new manager. And her answer was perfect—and so obvious new staff usually forget about it: ‘When you’re going into a new role, ask your new manager if they prefer emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Asking about the process of the work, as well as what the work is can be very beneficial.’

So remember, if you are starting a new job ask your manager about their communication preferences and try to nail them from day one. But, if you are the manager, don’t forget to tell the new staff what you expect, how you like to work and your communication preferences.

Cryptocurrency to go mainstream?

Pete Williams is no fan of blockchain. The Deloitte Digital guru, who is in Port Moresby this week for Investment Week, got a big laugh posting this rather minimalist flowchart (right) on whether or not to deploy blockchain in your project.

Williams is a big fan of blockchain-based crypto-currency Bitcoin, however, and may well be excited to read of Facebook’s announcement that it intends to launch its own crypto-currency, Libra, in 2020.

Facebook is aiming to make Libra a ‘stablecoin’ which, as Bloomberg explains, is ‘a digital currency that’s supported by established government-backed currencies and securities.’

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‘The goal is to avoid massive fluctuations in value so Libra can be used for everyday transactions across Facebook in a way that more volatile cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, haven’t been.’

With two billion Facebook users across the world, including 670,000 in Papua New Guinea, is the world about to get a genuinely international currency? What will the disruption be? One to watch.

Is the shale oil industry sustainable in the US?

Shale oil production. Credit The Conversation

Much has been made of the US newly acquired self-sufficiency in petrochemicals due to the emergence of its shale oil industry. But how sustainable is it?

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, along with the Sightline Institute, have released a report on the first quarter earnings of the US shale industry and it suggests the sector is in trouble: ‘Another quarter, another gusher of red ink,’ said the report, which studied 29 North American shale companies. It found a combined US$2.5 billion in negative free cash flow in the first quarter, a deterioration from the US$2.1 billion (K7 billion) in negative cash flow from the fourth quarter of 2018.

The ‘dismal cash flow performance’ came despite a 16 per cent quarter-over-quarter decline in capital expenditures. US analyst Tom Luongo says there are other problems in the  industry.

‘US shale oil has an upper limit on demand since it’s too light for most refineries and requires blending with heavier feedstock. This is why, for example, US imports of Russian oil are rising rapidly to feed Gulf coast refineries starved of Venezuelan oil thanks to Trump trying to take it off the market.’

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