Partnership of Petrochemical Leaders to become educational hub

The Partnership of Petrochemical Leaders (PPL) at the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, and Technology (CPET) at San Jacinto College is looking to enhance the education of leaders in the oil and gas industry.

“Professional development in our industry is mostly focused on technical skills,” said Steve Skarske, vice president of Kaneka and PPL industry advisor. “Where there is a need are the areas of leadership development, team building, and program management. We hope to fill that need and then some.”

Founded in November 2020, the PPL is a consortium of academic and industry partners within CPET, providing a foundation for leadership excellence in the petrochemical and refining industries and related service companies. Although the training is aimed at those working in oil and gas, the instructors may come from other fields of interest.

“In our Discovery Series, we just had a subject matter from Memorial Hermann present a webinar about crisis situations and high-risk management,” said John Suarez, director, PPL. “We are also speaking with a few U.S. Air Force fighter pilots to talk about pre-flight check and the human element. The PPL is about looking to fields with similar risk that can offer information from a different point of view.”

The PPL was designed to be a hub for the collaborative development of programs and solutions for the most pressing needs of the industry providing solutions to enhance informed and ethical decision making in the new era of constant change.

“Right now, we are in a time of shifting sands,” said Suarez. “The industry needs to be able to look forward to the future and plan on what the next shift will be.”

Through three categories, the Discovery Series, Petrochem Leaders Academy, and community and student engagement, the PPL plans to prepare the current and future workforce to be more agile and resilient.

The Discovery Series is offered in three different tracks, executive, process safety management, and peer-to-peer workshops. These will present themselves as webinars with subject matter experts, roundtable discussions, and case study sessions.

“What we are looking at is the human element,” Skarske said. “Interpersonal skills are some of the most difficult to teach and develop. With the support of industry through our advisory council and partnerships and the unique facility CPET offers, we hope to see the PPL expand to all of the Gulf Coast.”

Through community and student engagement, the PPL hopes to bring in industry leaders to host hands-on events, conduct mock interviews, and facilitate roundtable discussions.

“Our first student engagement event was with Performance Contractors and focused on safety,” said Suarez. “After the event I had about 20 students approach me about working for a contractor to get their foot in the door in petrochem. That is what we are here for. To facilitate conversations and present new information.”

To learn more about the Partnership of Petrochemical Leaders and see upcoming events, visit www.sanjac.edu/programs-courses/petrochemical-energy-technology-cpet/partnership-petrochemical-leaders.