26 SEPTEMBER 2017
the affected states. BP’s people and other assets
worked under the direction of the federal government,
through the Deepwater Horizon Incident Unified
Command. The command was run by a joint Coast
Guard/BP command structure, and final authority was
with the Coast Guard.
What made the Deepwater Horizon response different
than normal BP business was that evolutionary cycles
were condensed, and change occurred frequently,
sometimes on an hourly basis.
Most of the BP PSCM staff on the response were
“borrowed” from different BP businesses around the
world. They had jobs, families and lives that had to be
balanced against ongoing response demands. As a
result, it was determined that the best way to staff the
GCRO was with a combination of BP staff (mostly in
management roles) and contractors.
How do you set up a supply management function
in a new company? And how do you accomplish it in
less than two months? Even with leadership support,
recruitment was sometimes difficult. Consider that the
GCRO was essentially a startup company that was
in business to go out of business — it was charged
with cleaning and restoring the Gulf. And I couldn’t
guarantee anyone a job once the cleanup was
Staffing the organization required me to influence
and motivate others at a higher level than I had
used until that point in my career. I had to convince
strong candidates to take a chance on something
that wasn’t envisioned in any career path and leave
behind a job they considered “safe.” I also had to
convince candidates that I was someone they could
trust with this stage of their careers.
My pitch was to tell them the truth: That the work
they’d be doing was important — and that I would do
what I could to help them develop, despite no future
Some people took the leap simply because they felt a personal
need to contribute. Others wanted an opportunity to do something
beyond the norm. Although support from BP’s executives and human
resources team was significant in the staffing effort, finding workers
ultimately depended on making a connection with people. Speaking
with them and building relationships were key in providing them with the
confidence to alter their careers — and sometimes, their personal lives.
The BP PSCM portion of the response included more than 300
people. They often worked under difficult and stressful conditions.
They managed billions of dollars in contract value and hundreds of
millions of dollars of oil spill response supplies inventory. They dealt
with suppliers that performed heroically — and recalcitrant suppliers
that didn’t always share BP’s sense of urgency.
The size of this endeavor and the speed of its mobilization
were unprecedented. At its peak, it involved 47,000 people,
4,000 vessels, and 125 aircraft flying 200 missions a day.