Building Our Future
The future of our industry is challenging; it is geologically challenging, technologically challenging, and financially challenging, and it is resource intensive. Reservoirs are increasingly difficult and costly to develop and oil and gas comes at a higher cost of extraction. A host of other possible roadblocks complicate this future, including public concern about water issues; environmental impact assessments perhaps limiting access to resource; growth in regulations; and longer permitting processes. This is not an easy scenario.
To achieve the production demands of the future, a significant increase in global energy-related investment will be needed over the next 20 years, especially in technology development. But I believe an even larger piece of global oil and gas investment needs to be in people.
Although the economic downturn has delayed retirements, many engineers and geoscientists working in our industry will retire in the next 5 to 10 years. With the experienced professionals leaving the workforce, our young professionals (YPs) are being asked to take on more responsibilities earlier in their careers. This means that YPs must acquire broad technical and soft skill sets to be able to perform the complex tasks required of them. This requisite, coupled with the increasing complexity of the E&P environment, compounds the challenges facing the industry.
To attract and retain the kind of world-class technical expertise we need to succeed today and tomorrow, we must be willing to invest in extensive training programs that focus not only on the hard technical skills, but also on soft skills such as teamwork and interpersonal communication. This approach will enable YPs to give our industry their best in the fast-moving, team-driven workplace that technology solutions increasingly require.
So how do we attract the talent and accelerate their development? The answer is fundamental to SPE’s purpose: through the power of information dissemination and collaboration.
Sharing knowledge and best practices are essential to help accelerate the time it takes for YPs to reach their full productivity. This is a subject that SPE, especially the board of directors, is very passionate about. SPE has many resources that promote the YPs’ ability to learn from both experienced professionals and each other, and to build valuable networks that will serve them well throughout their professional life, resulting in a stronger industry as a whole.
SPE has a vibrant YP community, representing 28% of our professional membership. The board is committed to helping these young members grow. Here are a few of the programs that SPE has in place to develop the competency and professionalism of our YPs:
The Way Ahead is a magazine designed for and edited by YPs in the industry. The content is of particular interest to younger members, including articles on finding your career path, improving key skills, and the roles of YPs around the world.
Young Member Outstanding Service awards provide a chance to recognize YP contributions and leadership to the public, the community, the SPE, and the petroleum engineering profession.
The Ambassador Lecture Program is designed for SPE YPs to speak to students at secondary schools and universities about careers in our industry. This program not only helps encourage students interested in working in the oil and gas industry, but it also helps improve the YPs’ presentation skills.
The eMentoring program gives YPs a unique opportunity to receive practical career advice online from experienced professionals. The program also gives them the chance to mentor SPE student members.
YP workshops take place alongside SPE meetings and conferences worldwide. The workshops help prepare young members for leadership roles with a blend of technical and soft skills geared to early career development.
Networking events at SPE meetings, including the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition and regional events across the globe, provide great opportunities to share experiences.
Local SPE Section YP programs encourage YPs to get involved and build a better society.
Best practices from section YP committees are shared worldwide to serve the membership and help support fellow YPs.
YP’s network promotes communication and sharing ideas with young members around the world.
SPE offers YPs many rich opportunities to learn, to grow, and to engage. I would like to challenge each young professional in SPE to take advantage of the opportunities and also to get more involved in SPE activities. The experience you gain and the connections and friendships that you make will benefit your career and last a lifetime.
SPE is committed to investing in our YPs’ future. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know who will be leading it. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”