Learning Nontechnical Skills for a Successful Career

The main goal of the SPE Business Management and Leadership Committee (BML) is to promote learning opportunities for nontechnical skills. Technical skills often get you in the door, but strong nontechnical skills can propel you to career success.

This year has started out strongly for the BML committee. We have a new name, have designed/distributed/analyzed a worldwide survey, produced several webinars, initiated an SPE Connect platform for community discussions, have two Distinguished Lecturers, submitted SPE publications, scheduled workshops, and put together a panel discussion at the 2018 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in Dallas this month.

The BML Committee, which was previously called the SPE Soft Skills Committee, is a diversified group of 14 members from nine countries. Our main role is to provide members venues for professional growth in addition to technical development opportunities. We identify the gaps between the nontechnical skills that members need and those currently provided by SPE and make recommendations to fill these gaps. These recommendations include ways to share information, stimulate ideas, and coordinate initiatives aimed at meeting the industry’s needs in developing member professional competencies in various areas of business management and leadership.

The committee distributed a survey in October 2017 to SPE members worldwide to learn their views of nontechnical skills. We received more than 1,100 responses from 72 countries. We asked members to rank the importance of various nontechnical skills such as communication, leadership, and creativity, among others. An interesting finding was that industry professionals sometimes view these skills differently from management. The survey results will be presented in a paper at ATCE.

The committee has produced several free webinars for members to learn BML skills online. Some are on-demand and some are live. Upcoming live webinar titles include “Killer Communication Skills” and “Career Resilience: Practical Tools.” For more information, please go to

We have also initiated an SPE Connect platform as an open forum for BML skills discussions. Two recent topics are “Top Skills for New Employees” and “How has Certification/Licensure Impacted Your Career.” To join in a discussion with experts and fellow engineers, go to  

In 2017/18, the committee endorsed a nominee for the Distinguished Lecturer program, and current BML member Maria Angela Capello delivered lectures on multiculturalism in India, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Nigeria. It was a clear step forward in SPE’s Distinguished Lecturer offerings. We are also happy to report that two of our founding members, Behrooz Fattahi and Lori Dalrymple, have been selected 2018–19 Distinguished Lecturers. They will be traveling the world sharing their BML knowledge.  

There will be several learning opportunities related to nontechnical skills during ATCE. There will be a BML workshop in conjunction with the conference, as well as panel discussions on BML skills led by high-profile industry leaders.

The BML Committee welcomes new members to support work in the following areas: diversity and inclusion, effective communication, integrity and ethics, critical thinking, intrinsic motivation, collaboration, networking and mentoring, career options for young professionals, how to write technical papers, soft skills to improve business performance, negotiation and conflict resolution, global communication, how to make a breakthrough, how to start a business, and other topics.  

Members are invited to come to our training events and services to hone their BML skills and propel themselves to a successful career.

Learning Nontechnical Skills for a Successful Career

01 September 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 9