Energy major Schlumberger withdraws job offers to fresh IIT graduates

Written by Ritika Chopra
| New Delhi |

Published: April 22, 2020 4:45:15 am

“We will personally communicate our decision to each student who is affected by this decision,” said the letter by Gautam Reddy, Managing Director, India and Bangladesh, Schlumberger.

Hammered by the global drop in oil demand due to Covid shutdowns and an oil price war, a premium recruiter working in oilfield services has withdrawn its job offers to graduating students across the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil-field-services company, wrote to the IITs on April 6 that it had decided to “reduce and withdraw some internship and graduate job opportunities” in a bid to adjust to the “sudden reduction” in “customers spend”.

“We will personally communicate our decision to each student who is affected by this decision,” said the letter by Gautam Reddy, Managing Director, India and Bangladesh, Schlumberger.

Schlumberger is the second multinational company to revoke its IIT job offers. As first reported by The Indian Express on April 4, Gartner Inc, US-based research and advisory firm, was the first to rescind its offer to 11 students across IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras.

Gartner’s withdrawal, communicated on March 30, was seen as an early warning sign across campuses, with IITs fearing many more companies would rethink their placement offers. HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and IIT-Delhi Director Ramgopal Rao had even publicly appealed to companies in the first week of April not to withdraw offers.

Schlumberger’s decision has affected at least one student at IIT-Delhi, who was offered a junior field engineer role, and one at IIT-Bombay. The IIT-Kanpur student, who had secured a job at Schlumberger Pune Technology Centre (PUTC), has been offered a similar profile at Schlumberger Pune Indian Technology Centre (PITC) at a lower pay package. A similar offer is learned to have been made to a student at IIT-Madras.

Parag Deshpande, vice-chairperson of the Career Development Centre at IIT-Kharagpur, said, “We were made some offers (by Schlumberger). As on date, none of the offers were revoked.” When asked if IIT-Kharagpur had received the April 6 letter, he added, “That was a generic email. We haven’t heard back from them.”

Speaking to The Indian Express Tuesday, Reddy confirmed that offers made to students at IITs stand cancelled. “Last Friday, our global CEO (while announcing the first quarter 2020 results) had clearly said in North America we expect our customer spend to go down by 40% and globally by 15%. It’s unprecedented.”

“We have a longstanding relationship with the IITs. I am from IIT-Bombay. Recruiting from IITs is a continuous process for us. At this point in time, when we are doing business restructuring, it’s just not fair for our current employees (to hire more people). We have to take care of them first. It’s as simple as this. Everyone starting from the top management has taken a pay cut within the company,” he added.

Asked what this means for job offers made to IIT students this year, he said, “As of now we have withdrawn them. If the business climate changes, we will be the first to reach out to (students) who have been filtered through the whole (recruitment) process.”

Schlumberger cut its shareholder dividend 75 per cent and is restructuring businesses to cope with the steepest drop in demand in the energy sector in decades.

The Covid pandemic has resulted in a historic energy rout. On Monday, US oil prices turned negative for the first time — crashing from $18 a barrel to -$38. The government-mandated pandemic shutdowns has shrunk demand for crude oil and oil producers are running out of space to store the oversupply.

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