Continental Airlines Flight 80 from Newark touches down in Geneva right on time, 7:15 a.m., and Steven Newman rolls out of his seat on a snowy, January morning, ready to start the work day.

After stopping home for a quick shower and a change of clothes, he’s back in the office by mid-morning for a battery of meetings. There’s a quick lunch, more meetings, a conference call, and much more work to do until 8:30 at night. But he made time to sit down with Beacon and discuss his transition to Chief Executive Officer of the world’s largest drilling contractor. In typical Newman fashion, he’s ready to roll – and plans to hit the ground running.


Beacon: Where is Transocean today in terms of strength and momentum?

Newman: I think the strength and momentum today is around the talented team of Transocean people around the world. Our customers give us a lot of credit for our engineering, for our experience, for the ability that the organization has to apply resources to challenging situations. I think that’s the reason our customers bring us unique opportunities: because they know we are capable of putting some pretty talented people on the case. So the real strength of the organization today is our people.

Beacon: And our top challenges?

Newman: Our biggest challenge today is ensuring that our people possess all of the training, experience and competency to carry out their jobs. We’ve got Division Managing Directors managing billion-dollar businesses. We’ve got HR managers trying to staff a growing organization. We’ve got Division Marketing Managers trying to make sure that a contract reflects the optimum outcome for Transocean and our customers. And we’ve got Rig Managers managing rigs in really complex and challenging environments, both from what the customer is trying to achieve with the rig to the nature of managing a fifth- or a sixth-generation rig. And the same applies offshore as well. We’ve had tremendous opportunity for our offshore people over the last couple of years, and that’s meant that we’ve been able to promote people very, very quickly. But it has meant making sure that our people, as they step into those new jobs, have all of the experience and competency to understand the situation and make the right decision.

This would be more difficult without the size and scope of our current organization. I can, for instance remember it was just 10 years ago that I was working as a division manager in Trinidad. We had a Marketing organization but it wasn’t very big, so if you needed a little bit of specialist expertise with a particular contractual situation, sometimes it was difficult to find. Today, we have contract specialists who understand all the nuances of any contract, and can help our people. That’s just a single example. We have commercial critical mass; we have engineering and technical critical mass; we have supply chain management critical mass. The complexity is clearly a challenge, but the fact that the company is now well-resourced provides our people with a tremendous amount of support as they grow their careers. There are people across every function standing by and ready to help.

Beacon: How do you see your new role as CEO?

Newman: I have been in leadership positions for a long time now, but the actual objectives of this leadership role are clearly going to change. I’ll be interacting a lot more with Wall Street analysts and shareholders. I’ll be answering directly to the Board. And in some respects I will be the public face of the company, and so clearly the nature of the leadership role is going to change. But fundamentally it’s a leadership role: and leadership, to me, is about ensuring that the environment is right for our people to succeed. I am extremely fortunate because Bob (Long) has assembled a very talented management team. My job as CEO is to make sure those people continue to succeed … and they ensure their people succeed, and so on.



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