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Saturday, 18 April 2015

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Managing Geopolitical Risk in the Energy Sector
with Tom Wales and Jolyon Ford
tbc 2014, London, UK

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Managing Geopolitical Risk in the Energy Sector
with Tom Wales and Jolyon Ford
tbc 2014, London, UK

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Managing Geopolitical Risk in the Energy Sector
with Tom Wales and Jolyon Ford
tbc 2014, London, UK


“Make better decisions with less cost, realising more opportunities for less effort, and taking less risk for more reward, to transform corporate performance”

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Valiant Business Media have partnered with Oxford Analytica to provide a customised training course that will enable Energy sector clients to better manage geopolitical risk. By improving their ability to recognise their own problematic assumptions or external events that signal deviations from long-term trends, analysts and business executives can reduce the potential for strategic surprises.

Our senior level masterclass will take into account the latest research on the causes and consequences of predictive failure, drawing on psychology and neuroscience, behavioural economics and finance. We combine these insights with practical examples from historical junctures in politics, security, international relations, finance and the global economy. We will offer means for overcoming these ‘expert failure’ effects to achieve better contingency recognition and predictive accuracy.


Benefits of attending this Masterclass:
Our aim is to share research and applied experience that can help to mitigate the risks that are associated with traditional models of geopolitical analysis. By drawing on practical examples from academic research and our extensive experience in managing experts, we offer solutions for reducing these inherent risks – transforming potential analytical pitfalls into strengths that can improve a business’s strategic effectiveness.

Extensive research (mainly by psychologists and behavioural economists) has demonstrated that most experts are surprisingly poor at prediction, particularly in their own areas of expertise. This phenomenon, sometimes known as ‘expert failure’, also afflicts businesses operating in the energy sector:

  • Individuals specialising in particular regions, sectors or disciplines excel at developing frameworks that explain how the present strategic situation developed, and that identify the current analytical trend.
  • However, the very analytical frameworks (‘conventional wisdoms’) that aid in day-to-day work tend to inhibit the ability to recognise how things are changing and to adjust views accordingly. Experts become unable to recognise potential and actual contingent events which can often precede deviations from a stable trend that they are observing. This is an acute problem among both experienced analysts and business leaders, who have developed baseline assumptions that have served them well over the course of their careers. It is often difficult to discard these assumptions in the face of change.

Our trainers have more than three decades of experience managing a network of over 1,400 leading scholars, former policymakers, regulators and industry leaders, focused on geopolitical and macroeconomic issues. Our model of generating analysis makes us uniquely well positioned to provide advice on managing the analysis produced by experts while controlling for predictive failure that can lead to strategic surprises.

Who Attends

Who Should Attend?

This two-day masterclass is designed for both experienced analysts and business executives seeking to better understand geopolitical risks in the energy sector. It will enable participants to learn new techniques for alternative analysis and improve their ability to use analysis in ways that are most useful for effective decision-making. Job titles include:

  • Heads, VPs, Managers of Risk Management from the Energy Companies;
  • The target audience includes board level senior managers responsible for project, programme and project portfolio aspects of corporate policy, and their integration with corporate strategy and operations. It includes those charged with implementing projects at all levels, including uncertainty, opportunity and risk management professionals.
  • Project Managers and Project Staff with Significant Responsibilities.
  • Those Responsible for Projects at Project Office or Board Level.
  • Those at Board Level who want to better understand Project-Operations-Corporate Strategy Relationships.
  • Most of the examples used will be taken from energy sector cases, but useful lessons from other sector projects will also be used where experience suggests they work well in any context.

Course Info

The Masterclass Will Be Covering

Module I: Expertise and decision-making

Dilemma: ‘The Paradox of Expertise’
  • Strategic planning is impossible without expert advice and projections.
  • The higher an executive rises within a firm or government agency, the more he or she relies on expert judgment.
  • Yet there is overwhelming evidence that most experts are poor forecasters, especially within their own areas of expertise.
  • A small subset of experts excels at forecasting, but they often have personal characteristics/presentation styles that lead executives to disregard their advice.

Solutions: Manage expertise, manage information, manage yourself
  • Managing expertise. Our experience shows that it is possible to select and train individuals to be skilled at managing expertise and advice – learning to identify the most useful, empirically supportable advice, and to disregard speculation.
  • Managing information. Effective strategic analysis inevitably involves making predictions. Yet projecting forward means building analytical frameworks that can become rigid ‘world views’ that in fact inhibit one’s ability to recognise and react to contingencies. This makes identifying seemingly anomalous data very important, as it may signal that one’s framework for understanding needs to be changed or discarded.
  • Managing yourself. Psychological biases that we all share affect (1) how we react to advice gleaned from experts, (2) our individual analytical processes and (3) our relationship with the consumers of our own analysis. Learning to identify these tendencies can help avoid common pitfalls that produce poor briefings and may contribute to poor executive decisions.
  • We encourage an atmosphere in which participants can share their experiences about the challenges of
  • producing insights on unfolding or unpredictable contingencies.

Module II: Historical case studies: why expertise fails, and how it can succeed

In this module we will present a series of exercises that highlight methodologies that help analysts and business executives to think through problems more systematically, challenge their own analytical frameworks and conduct alternative analysis of their own and their colleagues’ work. The module also addresses presenting analytical findings effectively to senior policy-makers.

The case studies below are examples – other fact-based scenarios (eg. the inability of analysts to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union, or the Arab uprisings) may also be used.

Negative case study: Widespread failure of Western analysts to predict India’s first nuclear weapons test
  • The whole US intelligence and foreign policy establishment failed to anticipate India’s moves. The resulting ‘strategic surprise’ created multiple international and domestic ripples.
  • What questions were policy-makers asking? Were they the right questions? How can we help frame questions?
  • What assumptions were made about testing? How might these have been adjusted?
  • In retrospect, how should analysts and business executives have stepped through this process? How could information about the tests have been presented to policy-makers – orally and on paper – before the tests?

Positive case study: Goldman Sachs’ decision to avoid ‘toxic debt’ in late 2006, avoiding a ‘Lehman Brothers’ outcome
  • Goldman Sachs’ Chief Operating Officer’s preparedness to step outside existing trend analysis to question the firm’s models and avert disaster in the 2007-09 financial crisis.
  • How did the officer uncover and flag up an apparent anomaly in the firm’s ‘excess’ debt trading losses?
  • Why did he question the firm’s predictive models and assumptions despite conventional industry views?
  • When and how did Goldman Sachs throw out its entire analytical framework despite it having served them well for so long?
  • Most importantly, how can senior decision makers in the energy sector apply the lessons from Goldman Sachs’ predictive success?


Dr. Tom Wales, Director of Analysis
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Tom coordinates Oxford Analytica’s internal staff of experienced professional analysts in Oxford, England, as well as its network of approximately 1,400 external expert contributors worldwide. Among other services, Tom manages the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, an assessment of emerging trends and potential contingencies affecting the global political economy.
Tom specialises in analytical integrity and methodology, in the fallibility of expert predictions, and in contingency and scenario planning. He has participated in many speaking engagements on these topics for Oxford Analytica, including advising an investment fund assessing long-term trends and risks capable of affecting its investment strategy and serving as a US country expert for a seminar for a leading international emerging markets bank.
He is co-author of The Politics and Strategy of Clandestine War among other publications, and earned a PhD on the early history of the Anglo-American intelligence relationship from the University of Edinburgh in 2005. He previously served as an aide to the late Air Marshal Lord Garden, former Assistant Chief of the UK Defence Staff, and worked as a risk management analyst for Chase Manhattan Corporation in the City of London.
Dr. Jolyon Ford, Senior Analyst, Africa
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Jolyon joined Oxford Analytica in 2011. He is responsible for sub-Saharan Africa coverage for the Daily Brief, especially Southern, Central and West Africa. He also contributes to advisory work on Africa-related and thematic issues such as the politics and policy of natural resources governance, and helps lead the firm’s ‘Business and Society’ practice.
Jolyon has worked in government, civil society, an intergovernmental organisation (the Commonwealth Secretariat) and development consulting. He has also been a full-time academic in international and constitutional law at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University (ANU) and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He holds a PhD from the ANU on the regulation of business activity in post-conflict and fragile states (to be published by Cambridge University Press as Regulating Business for Peace); an LL.M degree (international law) from the University of Cambridge; and BA, LL.B degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


Course Name


Managing Geopolitical Risk in the Energy Sector

with Tom Wales and Jolyon Ford

tbc 2014
Strand Palace Hotel, London, UK
£1995 GBP (+ VAT)




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Across all Masterclasses in 2012

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Source: VBM Feedback Form
Average client score in 2012


RWE Dea AG, Germany
Nord Stream,
Energy Regulation Office,
Husky Energy,
GB Oils,
Renewables UK,
Portland General Electric,
Pare Resources,
APX Endex,

Columbia Gas of Virginia, USA
Bonneville Power Admin, USA
Intentional Hydro Power,
Hellenic Petroleum,
Galsi, Italy

APZ, Netherlands
Maersk Oil,
Wien Energie,
Lombard Odier,
Mainstream RP,
UK Power Networks,

Shell, Netherlands
Veolia Water,
Gold Fields, South Africa
Eesti Energia,