Q&A: Chevron building lasting partnerships to create prosperity

By Devex Editor 15 June 2017

Joe Naylor, Chevron’s vice president for policy, government and public affairs, discusses the role of private sector engagement in global economic development at the 2017 Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Development Forum in Washington, D.C. Photo by: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Most commonly known as one of the world’s leading energy companies, Chevron has taken steps to promote the development of the communities in which it operates, both in the United States and abroad. Chevron’s partnership initiatives around the world strengthen local economies through programs that focus on enterprise and workforce development, and that improve education. Among these partnerships are the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative, the Appalachia Partnership Initiative in the U.S. and the Thailand Partnership Initiative. Chevron has also established several partnerships with large development organizations including the Global Fund, Pact and Born Free Africa.

Joe Naylor, Chevron’s vice president of policy, government, and public affairs, attended the Global Development Forum, in April in Washington, D.C., organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The forum was an opportunity to talk with development experts, government officials and policy leaders about current and future trends around development, Naylor said during a conversation with Devex.

“I came away with an extremely positive view on how governments, NGOs, and private companies can all work together to stimulate and affect workforce development.”

Naylor spoke at length about Chevron’s approach to forging effective multi-sectoral partnerships, and the company’s strong focus on workforce development as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as STEM — programs. Below are more highlights from this conversation, edited for length and clarity.

To date, the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative has created more than 2,370 new jobs and increased the income of nearly 30,500 beneficiaries, including farmers, agricultural suppliers and processors. Photo by: Chevron

Chevron has developed a number of multi-sectoral partnerships with the private sector, civil society and multilateral organizations. What’s the recipe for a successful partnership?

Partnerships are crucial to effectively promote development. We can't do it alone. NGOs and governments can’t do it alone either. We found success by partnering with NGOs and governments because each brings unique skills and ideas to the table that lead to effective development programs. For example, Chevron is a company of engineers and project managers, so we bring those skills to the table. Some of our NGO partners or community leaders bring the voice of the community to the table.

Scaling up partnership in Thailand

The Thailand Partnership Initiative began in 2015, a five-year, $30 million program to improve STEM education and vocational education across the country. In partnership with leading nongovernmental organizations, academia, key government organizations in science and education, and the private sector, the initiative aims to increase the quality of science and mathematics teaching in Thailand.

Chevron is establishing a network of 12 STEM training hubs for grades seven through nine, and six vocational and technical training hubs for grades 10 to 14, and community colleges across the country with the goal of reaching 500,000 beneficiaries, teachers, principals, government officials and workers, to provide them with increased career opportunities.

We've partnered with the Global Fund for almost 10 years now, and we've directed about $60 million to the Global Fund over that time period in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. In Africa, we were the inaugural corporate champion. Since 2011, Chevron has partnered with the Global Fund and Pact to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS with a specific focus in Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and Nigeria’s Bayelsa State. Almost 300,000 people have been reached with the messaging, and almost 54,000 pregnant women have taken the HIV tests and have received counseling. This is making a big difference in the communities where we operate.

When we forge a partnership with a development organization such as Pact, we make sure that our interests are aligned. This applies to just about any partnership. We have candid conversations upfront around what each partner is trying to achieve, whether it’s an NGO or a community partner, and to ensure our objectives align.

The Thailand Partnership Initiative is a five-year program to strengthen Thailand’s competitiveness and innovation by improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and vocational education across the country. Photo by: Chevron

What is the value of investing in workforce development programs for a multinational like Chevron?

As an oil and gas company, when we go into a country or into a region, we're typically there for decades: For example, we've been producing oil and gas in California since 1879; we’ve been in Nigeria since 1913; in Thailand since the 1970s; and in Indonesia since the 1940s. What we look for when we’re thinking about investing in these areas is a safe and secure environment, a stable investment framework, a strong rule of law, but also a skilled workforce. Sometimes we need to help develop the skills of that workforce, which supports stability and prosperity of those countries and provides a means of unlocking their full human and economic potential.

How do you make sure the communities in which you work have a say in your programs?

Our success is intricately linked to the success of the community. And working in these places for decades, we want to ensure that the community is benefiting from our presence, and workforce development is an important element of that. One of the crucial aspects of our partnerships is to listen to the community, understand what the community needs, and figure out what we can collectively do to help address some of those needs. We’re constantly looking for ways in which we can address the needs of the community, and these needs change over time, so part of what we do is to make sure that we have an ongoing dialogue with the community around how effective the initiatives are that we currently have in place. Are they delivering what everybody was hoping they would deliver? Do we need to make adjustments over time? We collaborate with local governments and organizations as we develop our programs to ensure success. One of the advantages of these partnership initiatives is that they do evolve and we try to adjust them as needed.

The Appalachia Partnership Initiative seeks to address education and workforce development in 27 counties across southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Photo by: Chevron

You’ve invested in education programs that focus on technology and innovation, notably through STEM. Why?

First, it's natural for a company like Chevron because we are comprised of engineers and scientists. But we also think about the jobs of the future and what we can do to help fill that pipeline. Today, about 40 percent of the jobs in the U.S. require some degree of STEM education or knowledge, and that percentage is just going to continue to grow as we look into the future. And STEM jobs are well-paying jobs; in the U.S. they pay roughly 30 percent more than jobs that don't have a STEM component. STEM is important for other countries around the world as well.

In Thailand, we've worked with a number of schools around the country to set up training hubs that focus on STEM education to get the students more interested in STEM, but also to get teacher training curriculum material to increase the level of interest for students to pursue a STEM career. In the San Francisco Bay Area, in Houston, and in New Orleans, we're working with the local school systems to promote STEM education, provide materials and get kids excited about STEM. I think it's good for the communities, it's good for the students, and it's good for the country to have more people who can compete for the jobs of the future.

To learn more about Chevron’s partnership initiatives and commitment to economic development and STEM initiatives, click here.

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