Three young professionals shared advice for career and personal advancement as well as information about their involvement in and growth through SPE and other activities in a special panel session at the 2006 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. Attendees at the “Young Professionals: Tips, Advice, and Networking” event also learned about the importance of mentoring and were given the opportunity to meet with other professionals and company management.
Moderated by Josh Etkind, Reservoir Engineer–Surveillance for Shell E&P, the panel also included Gillian King, Product Line Champion, Sand Control Systems for Weatherford Intl. Ltd.; John L. Daniels, OFS DESC Engineer–Devon Energy for Schlumberger Oilfield Services; and Husameddin Al-Madani, Exploration Systems Analyst for Saudi Aramco.
Discussing the help of mentors in his career, Daniels said he “jumped into the deep end” early in his career and he was glad there was a lifeguard on duty. “Young professionals have a responsibility to seek out people to learn as much as they can,” he said. “More-experienced people also have a responsibility to seek out young people to share their knowledge.”
Daniels said his first mentor was a field engineer who helped teach him the basics on a fracturing crew in Saudi Arabia. He later transferred to Elk City, Oklahoma, where his second mentor was an equipment operator, highlighting the point that young professionals can learn from many different sources. Daniels then became a mentor himself for three people in the Schlumberger organization while in Oklahoma. His advice for young professionals is to be positive, work and network with people, be productive, be patient, and be proactive. Use a mentor and their experiences to help plan both short- and long-term goals. Set up regular meetings with your mentor to discuss progress, answer questions, and update goals.
Daniels noted that professionals, particularly in their early years with a company, should be willing to go where the job takes you. “Relocation is important in being exposed to different types of information and learning,” he said. Relocation doesn’t always mean geographical relocation; it can also mean changing career paths by working in different basins, in different areas of the operations, or different services. “Anything young professionals can do to broaden their horizons and increase their knowledge base will be important to their careers.”
King agreed. “Develop a career plan and have a goal,” she said. “Know what you like doing, and research your options on how to get you there. Above all, start making it happen. Don’t wait for opportunities to happen to you.”
King took a leadership position as Chairperson of the SPE Aberdeen Section’s Young Professionals Program and said the experience and networking opportunities have had numerous benefits. It improved her soft skills and technical skills, increased her visibility with her company, and made her a more well-rounded person. Her professional and personal development was enhanced by the experience of working with and contributing to the organization. She is now more aware of the public perception of the industry, what we must do in the future to change this, and also the industry’s cultural and environmental responsibilities.
“Be keen to learn as well as to talk with as many people as you can about the industry—they can help you achieve your goals,” she advised. “Be professional at all times, and be visible by getting involved in things like SPE.”
Al-Madani said that young professionals in the oil and gas industry are an asset ready to be tapped. With the increasing demand for oil and the implementation of many expansion projects, young professionals have opportunities to develop rapidly and be challenged. Areas of improvement young professionals need to address in their career development include communication, negotiation, and determination to succeed. “With increasing oil-demand opportunities, challenges will come across your career path. Accepting the challenge will require a commitment to learn and deliver. Winning the challenge will take professionalism and integrity,” Al-Madani said.
Effectiveness in one’s career means being dependable and accountable to others as well as being respectful and having the right attitude, he noted. “One should also be able to communicate his/her expectations, aspirations, strengths, ideas, initiatives, skills and talents, as well as successes and lessons learned from failures,” he said.
Al-Madani emphasized the importance of sharing experiences and knowledge with others. “Apply and share knowledge, lessons, and practices so others can learn from the successful ones and avoid the practices that proved ineffective.” Al-Madani said, “Remember to always network with other professionals, publish technical papers, and participate in professional societies.”
The Young Professionals session proved to be an effective communication, networking, and knowledge-sharing platform. The young professionals along with industry management exchanged thoughts and ideas throughout the session and during the networking brunch. After the presentations and the question-and-answer session, stimulating discussions returned to each of the tables. The event was a complete success. For those of you who attended, your participation was appreciated; for those of you who did not, perhaps we will see you in Anaheim, California, next year.