The benefits of our competitive advantages are only realized through the commitment and hard work of our people. Our long-term development approach is built on challenging, cross-functional assignments and global experiences. The result is a workforce with world-class capabilities and knowledge, anchored in a culture of excellence.

Report April 2, 2019

In this article


People development philosophy

We place a priority on maximizing the development of each one of our employees. It begins with recruiting exceptional talent and continues with individually planned assignments and experiences that lead to broad skill development and a deep understanding of our businesses. This career-oriented, personalized approach results in a retention rate of 96 percent and an average length of service of 30 years for our career employees. It also facilitates development of the next generation of leaders from within the company.

We set high performance expectations, foster a work environment in which every employee has the opportunity to excel, and reward employees based on their performance and contributions.

Through a combination of work assignments, on-the-job experiences, and focused training and education, employees acquire the necessary skills and competencies to take on increasing levels of responsibility and job complexity.

We develop future leaders from within the company, drawing upon our diverse employee population. Employees are developed for professional and leadership roles, both in their home countries and globally.

Cross-functional development

Our unique scale and integrated business model enable broad development across functions, business lines, and geographies. In fact, one-third of our managerial and professional workforce have had one or more assignments outside of their primary function, and one-fifth of our employees have worked outside their home country. The result is a high level of integrated knowledge, skills, and experiences. Cross-functional assignments across business lines, support organizations, and geographies provide employees with a greater understanding of the end-to-end business and promote diversity of thought and perspective.

We value a diverse workforce that is representative of where we do business

This approach maximizes the contribution of each employee and results in better, more-informed decisions at all levels of the organization. It also facilitates an integrated approach to how we operate facilities, execute projects, and invest in assets. Our employees possess diverse experiences and knowledge that allow us to identify and capture benefits across the value chain.

An example of this is in the Permian, where an integrated team is contributing to an innovative approach to the development of this important asset from wellhead to manufacturing. Each employee on the team has had at least one cross-functional assignment in his or her career, which provides a unique perspective on how we create integrated value.

The Rotterdam advanced hydrocracker project is another example of how we leveraged a diverse set of skills and knowledge to deliver value. Integrated teams worked together to identify proprietary technologies, form a business case, construct associated facilities, and market high-value products. Experts from the lubricants value chain proved critical to the success of the project by establishing a customer base and supply chain and supporting knowledge transfer to the Rotterdam refinery, which had not previously manufactured lubricants products.

People and technology

We are a science and technology company, and technical expertise and leadership are fundamental to our long-term success. Ensuring focused career development in the areas of research and technology enables employees to deliver innovative solutions.

We employ more than 16,000 engineers and 2,200 PhD’s across multiple disciplines, including petroleum engineering, manufacturing technology, behavioral science, mathematics, and biology.


Competence development within Research and Development

ExxonMobil research engineers, scientists, and laboratory staff work around the world in Upstream, Downstream, and Chemical research and development organizations.

A standard competency model is applied to all research and technology positions. The competency model sets expectations for technical skill proficiency and behavioral effectiveness. Specific skill expectations for R&D leadership allow us to identify and develop future technical leaders. Establishing proficiency standards and defining key experiences and career journeys provide the context for ongoing individual-supervisor coaching that addresses the needs of the business while also developing individuals.

Human resources and research organization leadership have collaborated to form a research and technology talent strategy that is linked to business strategy. This approach systematically sharpens the focus of recruiting and informs employee development plans. A strategic approach to talent management enables forward-looking skill development and allows us to mobilize talent across the company to the area of most importance. We aim to place the right people on the right projects, at the right time, across our global businesses.

Such a diverse, technical workforce brings broad perspectives that drive innovation and the development of proprietary technologies. Over the past decade, our employees have registered an average of more than 1,000 new patents each year, with a record high of 1,700 in 2018. These patents cover a wide range of technology, such as proprietary algorithms to support seismic data processing, new catalysts, high-strength steel, and advanced statistical methods.

Additionally, the World Oil and Gas Council named ExxonMobil “Large Cap Company of the Year” and “Explorer of the Year” in 2018. These awards and many others are a reflection of the world-class capabilities and knowledge of our employees and their commitment to excellence.

Long-term commitment

ExxonMobil invests in our people for a long-term career. We spend an average of $100 million per year on training and in 2018 had more than 25,000 job rotations in support of development plans.

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Technology has led to the development of industry-advantaged assets, processes, products, and applications. We invest in fundamental science and research, leading to advances in existing processes and products, as well as new discoveries. This allows us to meet the evolving needs of society, lower operating and project costs, and develop higher-value processes and products.

Digital Annual Reports Report April 2, 2019


The size and breadth of our business provides a critical foundation for long-term success. It enables investments in the development of advanced technologies by leveraging benefits across a large base of operations. Facilities and businesses operated consistently around the globe accelerate experience and learning – replicating innovations, improving effectiveness, and driving down cost. Our size allows us to pursue a wide range of value-accretive investments across the commodity price cycle – specifically taking advantage of counter-cyclical opportunities.

Digital Annual Reports Report April 2, 2019