How a more than 100-year-old company drives transformation
The clock is ticking on the largest global reinvention the energy industry will ever experience and Baker Hughes, an energy technology company, is a key player in that Energy Transition.
Baker Hughes made a commitment to achieving net-zero operating emissions by 2050. For a company primarily rooted in oil and gas, that meant a lot would have to change. Their strategy focuses on making their core oil and gas operations more efficient and less carbon intensive, while also investing for growth in new technologies to drive the decarbonization of energy and industry, such as hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and energy storage.
“We have to figure out how to make energy safer, cleaner, and more efficient for people, for the planet, and for the sake of future generations.”
It’s Hartgrove’s team’s job to communicate the vision of exactly how they’re going to accomplish this transformation and ensure people feel prepared for and excited about what’s next.
Communicators play a critical role in change management, especially a business transformation of this scale. Baker Hughes is a company of more than 55,000 employees, and operates in more than 120 countries around the world. So they knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“A business transformation is really just a series of smaller changes rolling out one after the other,” Hartgrove said. “It’s about getting the right information to people when they need it, and if you’re not careful, the volume of communications can become like white noise for people.”
“For the Baker Hughes comms team, it was not enough to cut through the noise with great stories. we had to go after the noise to make sure our communications would land with our audiences,” Hartgrove explains. To better choreograph the vast number of communications tied to the business transformation, Hartgrove knew they needed a digital calendar. That’s when she turned to Airtable.
“What started as a calendar very quickly became the solution that we use to manage everything on the Comms team,” Hartgrove said.
They now use Airtable for project management, customer communications, external affairs, social media, and team operations to name a few. Airtable serves as a single source of truth for the team. Before Airtable, they were working in PowerPoint, Outlook, and some people were showing up to meetings with information buried in physical notebooks. Hartgrove says by the time they finished putting together a comms plan in PowerPoint, it was already out of date.
“We were spending so much of our time on what I call the work around the work. We were meeting about meetings. That left us no time to think strategically or see gaps in our plans,” Hartgrove said.
She says in the past if a meeting were an hour long, 55 of those minutes would go towards sharing each individual's version of a communications plan. Today, Airtable allows them to operate in the cloud, with full visibility across planned activities in real time. It’s given them that time back.
“I know it's had an impact because communicators have told me that wherever their career takes them in the future, they’re going to find a way to use Airtable because it makes them better as communicators,” Hartgrove said.
Hartgrove says it has also helped her surface critical insights to executive leadership in a completely new way. She particularly likes that Airtable allows her to personalize views. For example, when she’s in a meeting with a stakeholder, she’s showing them specific information that only pertains to them. Now when she advises her CEO on strategy and messaging, she’s doing so with insights she’s gleaned from Airtable, and she has the data to back her up on the spot. This eliminates the need to follow up or hold another meeting.
“We've built greater trust with the executive leadership team because we have data at our fingertips like we didn't before,” Hartgrove said.
Most importantly it’s moved her team away from redundant workflows and freed them up to do the creative work that made them want to work in communications in the first place. Now they’re spending more time storytelling, which humanizes this unprecedented change and helps stakeholders and internal employees see themselves as a key part of the solution.
“We were already a high-performing communications function, but Airtable shifted us into overdrive,” Hartgrove said.
Hartgrove’s leadership helped her build trust from the inside out. Airtable freed her up from worrying about “the work around the work,” turned down the noise, and gave her the headspace to rally her team around the company and industry transformation.
“Our impact has grown exponentially thanks to Airtable. We are meeting the goals that we set at the start. We know our employees and customers are listening. We know they understand our strategy and they're inspired to be part of our energy transition journey,” Hartgrove said.