Much of the conversation around sustainability and the transition to net zero is about how far we need to go. But at the CERAWeek energy summit, which took place March 18–22 in Houston, Texas, the spotlight will be on practical solutions and momentum—what’s already working best, why, and what’s next? 

The energy transition remains one of the most significant challenges for businesses today. Every industry faces growing pressure to move forward in a way that is cost-effective and efficient, but also sustainable and fair. As our industry and sustainability experts geared up for CERAWeek this year, we asked Korn Ferry’s President of the Global Industrial Market, Dave Rossi—who spoke at the summit—about some of the questions on his mind and why they should matter to you. 

How can people tackle the industry’s biggest challenges? 

There’s a reason CERAWeek has been called the “Davos of energy.” It’s where energy industry leaders join forces with experts from the automotive, manufacturing, technology, financial, and policy worlds to share insights and spark collaborations.  

At the top of the agenda is understanding which businesses are already leading the way in their transition to sustainable energy—and the role people and teams are playing to make it happen. 

Governments, industries, and large global organizations — whose energy usage has material global impact—have signed up with the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. But the path to this requires global transformation, upending of traditional energy —such as oil and gas — and a focus and collaboration never seen before. 

CERAWeek is always a chance to take the temperature of the talent within the energy sector, says Rossi. “It’s vital that we’re at the center of those conversations, driving innovation, collaboratively problem-solving, and tracking industry progress,” he notes.  

How does energy transition support the ideal Employee Value Proposition (EVP)?  

Sustainability is crucial for purpose-driven job candidates, and Korn Ferry data shows that Gen Z professionals are looking for authentic brands that align with their own personal values. “Without sustainability, it would be very difficult for the energy industry to pull the talent it needs for the future,” says Rossi.  

Communication is crucial and organizations need to tell a credible story; but this is where the challenge lies. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, or geothermal, and new industries like carbon capture and storage easily attract purpose-driven candidates to their vision. But traditional energy—like oil and gas—can be less appealing, despite having a critical role to play in the transition. 

As Rossi points out: “Right now, the returns on traditional energy are fueling our ability to transition to sustainable energy.” However, he warns organizations who are looking to attract talent that are “running with a foot in both worlds" isn't easy. 

Aligning your sustainability plans for the future with what your business can handle today—and keeping your people motivated in the process—is tough. But Rossi sees the annual CERAWeek as an opportunity for leaders to explore what a successful EVP could look like, and the sort of benefits and drivers needed to attract and retain this talent in the future. 

ESG & Sustainability

For a sustainable future, you must change for good

How do you close the skills gaps in a rapidly changing industry? 

Technology is moving at a breakneck speed in an industry that has no time to lose in the race to net zero. So how do organizations keep performing now while building the skills they need to transform? Purpose-driven contractors or interim talent could hold the answer, says Rossi.  

He sees an opportunity for the energy industry—and other sectors—to tap into the passion of purpose-driven interims, who may be following the theme of sustainability or new energy as opposed to working their way up in a company over multiple years.

Interim talent is an opportunity for companies to build the skills they need in a short span of time, but it can also provide purpose-led candidates with the opportunity to make an impact in an industry and sector that’s rapidly transforming. 

The intense, broad exposure to industry shifts that annual CERAWeek offers helps leaders and organizations keep answering these questions, and many more, as they hone in on understanding how the right people in the right roles can shape the energy transition. Or, to borrow Rossi’s hockey analogy: “We watch where the puck’s going, not where it’s been—and get out in front of it.” 

Leading through change in 2024

Is your business set up to perform and transform through the energy transition? Korn Ferry is here to help you unleash the potential in your organization and implement the bold strategies you need.

Reach out to our expert team today and get the people and structures in place to succeed.