Aufiero walks into 'fiery' BJ-Baker bust-up

Vol 16, PW 2 (09 Aug 12) People & Policy

Vindaloo, an Indian curry dish, is spicier than Bolognese sauce from Italy, and that’s something Mario Aufiero, the new Italian origin Baker Hughes chief in India would do well to remember.

Aufiero was earlier VP of Baker’s Latin American operations in Mexico. He took charge of Baker’s Indian arm on July 1, replacing Anurag Gautam.

Aufiero inherits a tense relationship between senior management and disgruntled employees, mostly from BJ Services, which Baker bought for $5.5bn in 2010. Since Aufiero’s arrival, former India head Gautam has been ‘sidelined’ to looking after its ONGC contracts.

About 25 senior engineers and operations personnel have quit BJ India over the last year, leaving just four junior engineers and three trainees. Most high profile was the resignation last week (August 1) of former BJ country manager Rahul Mehrotra after 22 years at the company.

“Baker managers in India angered BJ employees,” says a source. “Demoralised BJ workers were forced to leave.

” Take Canadian Scott Steinback, seconded to BJ India in January 2011 as regional operations manager. “Steinback had serious working level and personal disagreements with Baker management (in India),” we hear.

“He quit in February and went back to Canada.” Many other former BJ employees have defected to rivals Schlumberger and Halliburton.

But a Baker source strongly denies any rift. “These are baseless rumours,” he says.

“Somebody’s spreading nonsense. Our relationships with former BJ staff are good.

People leave, of course they do. But people also join us from Schlumberger and Halliburton.

This is normal practice in our industry.” Our source adds it is not unusual for people to leave after a merger.

“Steinback quit because of the Baker-BJ merger,” he adds, “not because he couldn’t get along with us here.”