What's Ahead

What Does It Take To Be Successful in The Future?

Tony Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, The Way Ahead

An individual’s work results and business success depend on his/her knowledge and skills (i.e., competency). The contemporary business world changes very rapidly. Therefore, it is essential not only to be oriented toward present-day requirements for individual competency but also to foresee what competencies will determine success in the future. Surely there is not a single individual who embodies all competencies. Therefore, first of all, success is determined not by abundance of competencies but by having certain crucial competencies. Second, it is important to identify the need to develop certain strategic individual competencies and, finally, to develop strategic individual competencies that eventually will integrate successfully into the business.

To identify crucial competencies for the future, one can adopt techniques already in existence to forecast possible future scenarios. Once such scenarios have been identified, one can concentrate on crucial, strategic competencies that should ensure success.

Competencies can be broadly classified as

Professional competency is the special and specific knowledge linked to the individual’s profession—knowledge of processes and technologies, market and competitors, or production and services. Social competency is the ability to communicate and work with people; these are the individual’s features and the ability to adapt in the social environment. Conceptual competency encompasses systematic thinking, the ability to model situations by using a wide spectrum of knowledge and experience and clear understanding of the relevant processes.

In this issue of TWA, we have a stimulating interview with Stuart Ferguson, Weatherford’s chief technology officer, who discusses the benefits of developing and continually polishing one’s technical competencies. Lynda Armstrong, vice president of Shell EPT Solutions, talks about the importance of gaining as much knowledge as possible in the early years of one’s career and examines the link between technical knowledge and sound business decisions. On the human-resources side, we tackle the major issue of dual careers. The Forum survey, as always, comes up with very interesting results—in this case, highlighting the need for more young-professional (YP) activities focused on developing technical competence.

If you don’t know what real options are, I recommend that you read the piece by Charles Osborne in Economist’s Corner. To have basic economic competencies is essential. For the many pondering the perpetual question of whether to acquire an MS or PhD, the article by Khalid Aziz in the Pillars section provides valuable insight based upon his personal experiences. The soft-skills section considers a most important competency, superior leadership. The YP Activities section rounds up a variety of programs, events, and developments. Featured in this issue is the Oklahoma Section.

Finally, in the Student Link, we have an article from the chairperson of the Student Development Committee on what it has in place for students. And this is backed by a survey of SPE student members that gives very useful metrics for those closely associated with academia.

If given a chance to pick competencies for the future, I would pick strong leadership qualities that enable me to galvanize people toward achieving a common goal, the ability to connect and communicate between different cultures and align them toward a greater vision, and, finally, the strategic acumen to think from a perspective of sustainable development—something more than merely “going green” or being socially responsible.

The global economy has a life of its own that neither governments nor global corporations can direct. The pace of change is accelerating. Doubling times for information technology, communications, and biotechnology are in the range of every 12 to 24 months. This means that in the years to come, some technologies could advance a million-fold. With change of this magnitude, the world becomes fundamentally a different place. How are you planning to cope?

From the TWA editorial team, wishing all our readers a fantastic 2008. Happy Competency Planning!

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