Boardroom briefing: ExxonMobil to sell assets, tourism workforce and the effects of working abroad


ExxonMobil gets ready to sell assets, a more skilled tourism workforce for the Pacific Islands, and how working abroad affects you. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Going once, going twice: ExxonMobil to sell oil and gas fields

As the negotiations between PNG’s State Negotiating Team and ExxonMobil over the P’nyang gas field project reach a critical stage, there are reports that the oil and gas major is looking to sell up to US$25 billion of its oil and gas fields in Europe, Asia and Africa. It will be its biggest asset sales for decades.

‘The sell-off would be a marked acceleration of the US oil major’s previous divestment plans. It would represent an ambitious attempt by Chief Executive Darren Woods to catch up with competitors who carried out sweeping portfolio reviews and sold swathes of assets following the 2014 market crash.’ According to Reuters, the sell off ‘would free up cash to invest in new developments in Guyana, Mozambique, PNG, Brazil and the United States.’

But will PNG get the cash? The nominated 27 November deadline for a deal has come and gone. Isaac Lupari, Chairman of the State Negotiating Team, said Monday in a statement that it is important to get a ‘good deal, not a fast deal.’

Perhaps both teams have been reading Ed ‘King of Negotiators’ Brodow’s Ten Tips for Negotiating. ‘Don’t be in a hurry’, says Brodow, who lists ExxonMobil as a client. ‘Whoever is more flexible about time has the advantage.’

Good news for the tourism industry in the Pacific Islands

Representatives of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) during the signing of the MOA for Cooperation on the Development of Regional Micro-Qualifications for the Tourism Sector. Credit: SPC

It is no secret that tourism is vital to the economies of the Pacific Islands. Over 2.1 million international tourists visited the Pacific Islands in 2018; 195,000 of them arrived in PNG in 2019 and generated more than K690 million of spending flowing into PNG’s economy. These numbers are expected to continue to grow and the Pacific’s tourism sector needs to develop new skills to adapt and thrive.

That is why the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to form the Regional Tourism Sector Skills Coalition.

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The new coalition will identify skills gaps in the industry and provide appropriate training for the tourism sector employees to meet industry needs.

‘A skilled, inclusive and productive tourism workforce is vital not only to grow the tourism sector but also for Pacific people and communities to benefit sustainably into the future. Supporting the skills agendas of Pacific Island countries’ is central to how APTC works and we are here to exchange lessons and resources to contribute to a thriving tourism sector that enhances Pacific prosperity,’ APTC CEO, Soli Middleby, said during the signing of the MOA.

Benefits of working (and living) abroad

Papua New Guinea has many expat workers, especially from Australia. Are they likely to  change as a result of working abroad? According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, people who live abroad tend to reflect on their situation more:

‘When people live in their home country, they are often surrounded by others who mostly behave in similar ways, so they are not compelled to question whether their own behaviors reflect their core values or the values of the culture in which they are embedded. In contrast, when living abroad, our data found that people’s exposure to novel cultural values and norms prompts them to repeatedly engage with their own values and beliefs, which are then either discarded or strengthened.’

Such reflection, they say, results in a ‘clearer sense of self’, which often leads to better decision making.

‘In today’s complex vocational world, the vast majority of people will experience difficulty in making important career choices at some point in their lives… It stands to reason that having a clear sense of self elucidates which types of career options best match one’s strengths and fulfil one’s values, thereby enabling people to be clearer and more confident about their career decisions.’

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