15 October 2010

Bob Haldeman Interview (23)

Using More Chilean Engineers

Swent: Were you hiring more Chilean management?

Haldeman: No. At this time we talked over this as an issue, in 1955 and
1956. I had some fifteen years in Chile, and I became very
convinced that the Chilean engineer, the professional, who was
always held to the third-rate level with the foreigners holding
the first- and second-level jobs, was just as capable, didn't
require a three-year contract, didn't have to have a wife who
had to go home every two or three years, didn't have to have his
children in special Calvert course schools, and was satisfied to
work a lifetime with the company.

Swent: And already knew Spanish.

Haldeman: Yes. So we decided that we would start to train the Chileans.
I was having a lot of problems with the foreign service people.
They were demanding more and overseas premiums, 20 percent over
salary, just to go abroad.

Sewell as a World Heritage Site & a ghost town

Swent: Were they able to get good engineering training in Chile at that

Haldeman: Well, yes. Their schools were turning out good people. At that
time the steel industry, Campania Acero Pacifico, CAP, was
plowing right ahead. It was a very top-class, iron ore mining
and steel company with Chilean engineers. The Chilean power
company, Endesa, had excellent people in engineering, operation,
and planning. The Chilean oil company, ENAP, had excellent
engineers. Mr. Simian, ex-minister of mines (who was the best
man at my second marriage), was the man who was on the first
well that found oil in the south of Chile. He was a mining
engineer in petroleum.

So there were excellent people. Of course, these were in
Chilean companies , and in the American companies the Americans
had the top jobs because they didn't trust the Chileans, if you
want to put it that way. They didn't trust them with
purchasing, because they always thought they were crooked. Even
today it exists to a certain degree. Canadians come down here,
and they don't trust the Chileans to have the purchasing jobs or
in the accounting and controlling departments; they have to have
their own men. I don't mind having two men, one to make major
decisions and one to make sure he has the key to the cash
register. But as for the rest of them, Chile has plenty of
capable engineers.

So we accepted that, and started to work on it in about
1956 and 1957. As we go along here, I'll start to phase in the
results of it.

Index to Haldeman Interview

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