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Witness Testimony of Mr. Mark Szabo, Team Lead for Military Recruiting, Baker Hughes

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Takano, Members of the Subcommittee, good afternoon.  I am Mark Szabo, Team Lead for the Military Recruiting Program at Baker Hughes Incorporated.  As someone who spent 16 years in service with the U.S. Army Reserve, I feel extraordinarily privileged to have made a career out of attracting our veterans to the energy sector.  I thank you for the great honor of appearing before you today.

Baker Hughes is a leading supplier of oilfield services, products, systems and technology to the worldwide oil, natural gas and geothermal industries.  While we work in nearly 80 countries, approximately half of our more than 58,000 employees are based here in the United States, where we conduct the majority of our manufacturing, field services, and research and development.

It is here in the United States that advanced exploration and production technologies have perhaps had their most dramatic effect in increasing oil and natural gas supplies.  This growth brings tremendous job opportunities at a time when a large number of servicemen and women are leaving the military.

My mission, and that of the entire Baker Hughes Military Recruiting Team, is to bring the immense talents and work ethic of our men and women in uniform to bear on energy production.  This makes good business sense to us, but, in the words of our CEO Martin Craighead, welcoming our veterans home to meaningful, well-paid jobs is simply “the right thing to do.” 

Baker Hughes has long sought veterans for our field work, where the value of their experience is easily apparent.  Mechanical assembly, field operations, machining, repair and maintenance and logistical coordination all fit within this category.  However, we seek out veteran applicants at all levels of the company, including in corporate and enterprise positions, because we believe military service fosters core values that align very well with the Baker Hughes core values of integrity, teamwork, performance excellence, learning and courage.

Almost all of the members of my team are veterans themselves, and we bring that experience to bear on our approach to recruiting.  We have developed a multi-pronged approach to ensure that we are reaching veterans at every stage of the transition to the private sector.  We reach out to current servicemen and women at military installations throughout the U.S., and to veterans by participating in military-specific job fairs.  We also partner with several universities with high veteran populations, as well as state veteran workforce commissions.  We encourage veterans who are already members of the Baker Hughes community to refer their former colleagues.

In 2013 we conducted a total of 60 military recruiting events, with that face-to-face contact translating directly into 175 hires, with many more hires coming through traffic driven to our recruiting website.  Our intention is to more than double that number in 2014.  I am pleased to report that so far we are on that pace: we held 23 military recruiting events in the first quarter of 2014, hiring an additional 145 veterans.  We are essentially hiring a veteran a day. 

We believe it is important to continue that engagement beyond the hiring process, to maintain it as a consistent thread in our employees’ experience.  To that end, we have established a Veterans Resource Group to support veterans transitioning to Baker Hughes from active duty and connect them with each other and with mentors within the company, creating a vibrant network for continuing professional and personal development.  This program has been enormously popular since its launch in 2013—17 local chapters have already been established in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania and many more are underway in places like California, Colorado and North Dakota.  It will come as no surprise to the Subcommittee that these chapters, once formed, turn their focus almost instantly to making a difference in the lives of other veterans.

Baker Hughes also believes strongly in supporting those employees who continue to serve our country in the military reserves.  We have policies in place to ensure our National Guard and Reserve employees are aware of and receive their benefits, and as our employees are called up Baker Hughes pays the difference between their base salary with us and their military base pay, from 30 days annually for training up to 180 day for an involuntary call to active duty.  Baker Hughes was recently recognized with an ESGR Pro Patria Award in New Mexico, and I am proud to say that the company is a finalist for the 2014 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.  Like our Veterans Resource Group, this is a good program made great through the dedication and spirit of our employees.

We applaud the Subcommittee for shining a light on the opportunities available to veterans in the energy industry, and we are pleased to do our part.  I look forward to the discussion.  Thank you.