Fosters Commentary on Youth Recruitment, Perspectives

The 2004 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) opened with a Leadership Conference, featuring SPE young professionals from around the world. Opening the ATCE with youth commentary highlighted the importance of young professionals’ interests and opinions about SPE, particularly in light of the graying industry work force.

This fifth leadership conference, like its predecessors, encouraged beneficial dialogue, featuring a panel of six young professionals and audience participation in table discussions to identify the Society’s strengths and weaknesses.


Why SPE?

Jesus Bronchalo of the London section, Thomas Bruni of The Netherlands Section, Ahmed El-Banbi of the Oman Section, Todd Gilmore of the Java Indonesia Section, Andrew Lambert of the Stavanger Section, and Janice Menke of the Gulf Coast Section expressed beliefs held by young members as they answered questions posed by moderator Neil T. Wilson, ChevronTexaco Project Development and Execution-Process-for-Change Coordinator. To set the stage, panelists were asked how their involvement with SPE began and the reasons that they remain members of the Society. The panelists cited the following reasons for joining and for their continued participation in SPE:

According to the panel, certain attributes of the Society attract and prevent recruitment of young professionals. Plus factors include:

But SPE needs to:


Looking Ahead

Young leaders envision the organization 10 years from now as being truly global, involved in the complete and immediate transfer of skills to underdeveloped countries, and representative of multiple disciplines. The average member age will be about 38, and strong mentoring programs will exist. According to conference participants, the Society will face these challenges over the next 10 years:

In 5 years’ time, these young professionals would like to see the perception that SPE is “too tied to major oil companies” changed, and they would like to see the Society known as the database for industry personnel, collecting and constantly updating personal and career data.

The moderator’s question, “What should all members and/or leaders of this Society start doing to make the Society better and why?” prompted these responses:


Roundtable Discussion

Identifying methods to create the new-generation SPE was the objective of table discussion. Panelists and leaders in the audience expressed numerous ideas to accomplish the task of engaging and mentoring young members to become technical and business leaders. Of the approximately 55 roundtable ideas, recurring and/or related recommendations centered on mentoring, awards and presentation opportunities, special forums and informal workshops, ways to strengthen student chapters, board participation, and succession planning.

Ideas on mentoring methods included establishing an “adopt-an-engineer” program on corporate and SPE levels, creating a “meeting mentor” role in which senior members interact with young professionals at local SPE meetings, and extending the SPE Distinguished Lecturer series to student chapters. Awards opportunities included the Society offering financial support for young professionals to attend ATCE and have the opportunity to formally present papers. In addition to ideas to create forums and informal workshops that would address “soft” skills such as business, interpersonal, and presentation dynamics, it was suggested that young membership be represented on the international SPE board.

In closing remarks, 2005 SPE President Giovanni Paccaloni declared that the recruitment, nurturing, and molding of young professionals are a top priority for SPE this year. Paccaloni said members should actively seek to motivate the youth in the organization, set up young professional programs in each section, encourage senior members to mentor young engineers/scientists, begin a program to encourage SPE membership through one-on-one visits with chief executive officers, and enthusiastically help these future leaders find solutions to the challenges they face.

From the conference dialogue emerged these and other building blocks to the envisioned future of the Society: