Consol looks to Gen X, Millennials to step into the roles left by retirees

By the time Brian Liszka turned 27, he was a supervisor in Consol Energy’s natural gas sector. He was in charge of three drill rigs with roughly 10 to 15 people reporting to him at a time.

That would have been unfathomable several years ago, said one official at the Cecil-based energy company.

“I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom when I was 27 at Consol without asking for permission,” Kurt Salvatori, vice president of human resources at Consol, joked during a workforce development panel, part of a series presented by the Pittsburgh Tech Council in Canonsburg on Monday.

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement, Generation X employees and Millennials have been called in to fill the gaps.

It is a trend taking shape at Consol.

Mr. Salvatori and Michelle Buczkowski, manager of talent strategies, began to realize there were not enough people with the experience needed to take over high-level executive positions at the company, which specializes in developing coal and shale gas.

“In 2009 we had roughly 4,000 employees. We were boomer heavy, and the least number of employees were Millennials,” Ms. Buczkowski said. “Here we are last week. Same business units, roughly the same number of employees: We are Millennials.”

To help with the transition from more of a highly trained workforce to more of an entry-level workforce, the company created two talent acquisition programs: LEAD (Leadership, Education and Development) and EDGE (Educational Development through Group Experiences). They identify high-potential employees to take over leadership positions.

“We’re really proud of the approach we’ve taken," Ms. Buczkowski said during a phone interview Friday. “We’ve really integrated our development program into what we use for succession planning.”

Mr. Liszka and others discussed their experiences with the programs with a crowd of about 50 during Monday’s panel, which is part of the tech council’s “Winning the Talent War” series. The series brings human resources professionals from different companies together to talk about strategic issues such as culture, development and recruitment.

LEAD and EDGE, which were launched about three years ago, have already had a positive impact on workplace performance and on employee attitude, Ms. Buczkowski said at Monday’s discussion.

Brian Green, asset manager for Consol’s Utica Shale gas operations, participated in the LEAD program.

“What we’ve found is the star performers will create other stars," Mr. Green said during Monday’s panel. “The younger generation wants to perform, to grow.”

Consol and the Pittsburgh Tech Council are planning to launch another initiative, GRID (Generating Resources for Industry Development), in October. The combined effort will connect human resources representatives from energy companies, something that has been difficult to do in the past due to the competitive nature of the sector, Ms. Buczkowski said.

“We need a neutral place where we can go where we feel comfortable sharing resources together,” Ms. Buczkowski said.

Madasyn Czebiniak: or 412-263-1269. Twitter: @PG_Czebiniak

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