On December 04 and 05, 2021, Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) collaborated with Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam – PVN) to organize a Leadership Executive Education program on the topic “Navigational Leadership in a ‘VUCA’ world” for members of Board of Management and Board of Directors of PVN and its subsidiaries.
The program objectives include providing different perspectives on global economic issues and Vietnam development policies through up-to-date and independent economic policy researches conducted by leading academic institutions and think tanks like Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, Fulbright University Vietnam, and Harvard University. The two-day program also looked to improve strategic vision, policy analysis capabilities, and adaptability for leaders of Petrovietnam and its subsidiaries to successfully cope with new changes in the modern world.
Due to complications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the program was organized in a hybrid format, with both online and offline components in many locations. The two-day program was delivered by FSPPM’s most senior lecturers, including Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Thanh, and Dr. Le Viet Phu. PVN and FSPPM also welcomed many foreign scholars and world-leading experts on economic, energy, and environmental policy, namely Prof. David Dapice, Prof. Edward Cunningham – Harvard Kennedy School of Government (USA), and Prof. Zeger van de Wal – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
As an energy-intensive economy, Vietnam has been consuming a lot of energy (electricity, oil, etc.) to generate economic growth. According to research, Vietnam’s economy has a higher intensity of electricity usage than China and is twice as high as Thailand’s, even though Thailand has similar climate conditions and a higher degree of urbanization than Vietnam. Speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP -26), Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh emphasized that “climate change response and nature restoration must become the highest priorities in all development decisions. They must form the highest ethical standards for all levels, sectors, businesses, and citizens.” The Prime Minister also proposed strong efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Hence, the transition to green energies for the premise of sustainable development is inevitable. However, it does place multiple challenges and opportunities for national oil, gas, and energy corporations.
One of the said challenges is the internal conflicts of interest caused by the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Investment in research start-ups on renewable energy technology requires large capital commitment and yet, faces high risks of failure. To facilitate a smooth transition and achieve expected goals, a tight-knit, effective, and transparent governance mechanism is in demand to select and invest in projects that have the highest chance of success. In China, leading national oil corporations had implemented an adjacency strategy. As an example, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOCC Ltd.) whose technical expertise is extracting offshore oil, focuses its investment on offshore wind power projects. Additionally, Sinopec Group, which owns 30,000 gasoline stations across China, is expecting to incorporate its retail outlets with recharging services for electric vehicles. Prof. Edward Cunningham, an international energy expert and a lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, asserted that challenges and difficulties that Vietnam, generally, and Petrovietnam, in particular, are facing, are not unique. Thus, by analyzing the successes and failures of other countries, Vietnamese leaders can draw important lessons and implications for their energy transition.
Another key point that the executive program touched on is essential skills for leaders in the world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) and the digital age. Given the unpredictability and severity of recent crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruption, and oil price collapse, public leaders need to equip themselves and their teams with highly flexible skill sets. Leaders must know how to communicate policy messages effectively to successfully mobilize public support for their implementations. In addition, as more members from Gen Z and Gen Y enter the labor market and public organizations, the workforce will be increasingly diverse in age and the ability to acquire technological knowledge. This leads to a “reverse training” phenomenon in which young employees, in their 20s and 30s, can instruct middle-aged upper managers on how to use technology platforms and social media to communicate effectively with the public.
At the end of the program, Petrovietnam’s CEO Mr. Le Manh Hung thanked the lecturers at FSPPM, Harvard Kennedy School, and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore) for their cooperation in successfully organizing the training. The materials were well-tailored for the current trend, global context, and large enterprises in the energy and industrial sectors such as Petrovietnam.
“Over the past two years, Petrovietnam has paid extra attention to volatility management. We also put volatility and change management as our top priority. Hence, the curriculum of the Leadership Executive Education Program is highly relevant to the demands and realities of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group at the present and in the future,” Mr. Le Manh Hung concluded.
Mr. Le Manh Hung highly appreciated the structure of the executive program and the lively discussions between enthusiastic participants and foreign researchers. He also hoped that in the near future, Petrovietnam and FSPPM could continue to collaborate in scientific research and training projects to solve difficult energy problems for Vietnam.