What's Ahead

“Old School” vs. “New School”—Back to Basics!

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

The scene: A boxing champ of yesteryear steps into the ring for one last time—coming out of retirement, defying all odds—to face off against the current world champion.

Movies of this genre compare “old school” and “new school” in the most obvious way, along the lines of aging strength and experience vs. speed and cockiness. The story usually proves that underestimation and disrespect of one’s opponent leads to certain defeat.

In this issue of The Way Ahead, we are not setting up this kind of a challenge match between the old thinking and work style and the new. On the contrary, we are trying to couple the best practices and experiences from the past with the innovations of the present, integrated with active mentoring and dialogue to equip us to tackle the challenges of the future.

The tenets of professionalism remain the same irrespective of the “school” to which you belong. By taking the time to learn, being humble, and being ethical, and by keeping our minds open, we can learn from anyone around us and then can share the knowledge we have gained.

The existing contrasts between the two schools of thought and work are probably more pertinent to young professionals because at some future point, today’s practices will become old school. We have to guard against complacency, always keeping an eye out for new approaches and ways to solve problems so that we won’t come to be viewed as outdated.

A solid grounding in the basics, combined with the right mindset so that we are prepared to learn from absolutely anyone and everyone, is essential to moving into the future. Being critical of what we read and taking time out to do research is of paramount importance. This makes one more open to the techniques used in other industries (e.g., space and defense) that could be applied in solving the problems of the oil and gas industry.

This issue includes eclectic articles from a variety of authors. I strongly recommend you go beyond the superficial and read in depth, do some research, and finally discuss and debate the issues encountered. Discussing anything you have just learned is especially important because it refines this knowledge that you have embraced. As a result, you begin to fine-tune this knowledge, learn its nuances, and embed it more deeply in your mind. Let me conclude by noting the principal tools available for discussing and sharing what we learn:

  1. Internal company/organizational bulletin boards
  2. SPE’s well-established online bulletin boards
  3. Posting messages on the SPE Young Professional’s Network or within a Technical Interest Group
  4. Talking to peers and mentors
  5. Presenting internally in one’s organization
  6. Presenting at local SPE section meetings
  7. Presenting technical papers at various symposia
  8. Teaching on your topic to other young professionals.

“Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.”—Dale Carnegie