Cindy Garcia on Energizing Transformation

Cindy Garcia’s two decades as an HR pro in the oil and gas industry have taught her to use times of change as times to build talent.

Cindy Garcia, VP of Global Human Resources & Talent Acquisition, Noble Energy Photo Courtesy of Michael Hart/Noble Energy

Throughout Cindy Garcia’s twenty-one years in the oil and gas industry, she’s learned it is important to be agile in times of change. “The industry is very fluid,” the vice president of global human resources at Noble Energy explains. “The rate of change has definitely accelerated over the past several years, particularly with recent technological advances that have spurred the US shale boom.”

So, when it comes to talent management and adapting to different cycles of growth, the work that Garcia does is even more valuable. “Being adaptable and being able to respond to growth cycles is a big part of what we do in HR,” Garcia says.

Garcia’s connection with the energy industry predates her professional career. Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, her father worked for Amoco. Garcia’s interests in business and psychology led her to pursue a master’s degree in human resources, and Amoco was a natural place to start her career in 1998. When BP acquired the company a few years later, she gained a much deeper understanding on how to make a difference when changes occur in the industry As the HR incident response officer following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Garcia worked closely with the crisis management team and was dedicated to ensuring employees had the support and resources they needed.

When she joined Noble Energy in 2014, she sought a new challenge. After working for nearly two decades with BP’s large global workforce, she was eager to apply her expertise to make a difference at an independent operator with global reach. Noble’s motto also resonated with her deeply: “Energizing the World, Bettering People’s Lives.” At that point in time, the price of oil was $102 per barrel, the company was in growth mode, and Garcia was hoping to use her passion for Noble’s mission to bring something new to the business plan. “The intent was to come in and help further enhance HR processes and help support that growth,” Garcia says.

When the decline in oil prices forced the company to take a closer look at company strategy and organizational needs, Garcia shifted her desire to make a difference into leading the organization through that transition. This, she says, was a very people-oriented process. “Through all cycles of change, we’ve focused on our people and worked to manage talent and organizational capability to ensure we have the best outcomes for the company,” Garcia says. That meant looking at where the staff could be redeployed to apply their talent in new areas to best support the organization.

Leading that transition also meant managing teams through integration when Noble acquired two new smaller, independent companies in 2015 and 2016. “Change can create uncertainty,” Garcia says. “So, we focused on communication to existing and incoming employees through every step of the process.” Her team developed processes to understand new talent and their skillsets as well as possible and smoothly integrate them into the Noble Energy culture.”

Throughout all of these changes, she’s found that having a broad team of HR experts that can work collaboratively with business leaders and other functions is vital. Agility and open communication are essential. “With information, employees are confident and focused on moving forward,” Garcia says. Making a new team feel secure with their roles, she adds, helps them use their individual talents and makes the integration more effective.

And as Garcia and her team learned which processes worked best during the company’s first acquisition in 2015, they were able to apply those processes more effectively during the second integration. Now, Garcia and her team can focus on creating more holistic workforce plans and enhancing employee engagement.

“We have some great new talent-review and succession-planning processes to gather and analyze information at the organizational and individual level,” Garcia says. “We’ve been able to look at ways to be more strategic.” The HR team is now focused on workforce planning, leadership development, and enhancing team effectiveness and inclusion.

All of this work helps Noble Energy stay committed to its core values: integrity, caring creativity, wisdom, agility, excellence, and alignment. “We always consider how changes will affect our people,” Garcia says. “We develop communications and activity plans to best manage the impact.”

No matter what changes might come next, Garcia remains committed to making sure that broad HR considerations are integrated into the strategy. That means looking at Noble’s business goals to make sure that the work her HR team is doing is aligned with the business plan and is looking at what employees need on an individual level. After all, Garcia says, what makes Noble so successful is its people. “And when we collaborate,” she says, “we continue to do what is best for our people.

“We have a great team of HR professionals here who are very dedicated, highly motivated, and very business driven; they are part of the business because they want to make a difference for the company,” she says. “And we’ve got some really great leaders here who recognize and value that.”