It’s Your Career: Decide What You Want and Make Sure You Get It

In April, Stuart Ferguson, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President with Weatherford, provided the Aberdeen Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) with a lunchtime session of career advice.

Ferguson began on a very positive note: If you are in the oil industry, the future looks bright! Ferguson has had a varied career in the petroleum industry. He has moved from operator to service company, from technical to sales and marketing positions, and has transitioned from a small to a large company. Ferguson’s wide-ranging experience made him well placed to advise Aberdeen’s young professionals on careers in the petroleum industry.

Below are some of the pieces of advice covered during the session:

  • Decide what it is you want to do. Successful people are able to articulate this. They know where they want to be. How you get there is secondary.
  • Exploit opportunities and changes. Make changes happen, and when opportunities arise, don’t passively let them pass by. Exploit opportunities even if you are unsure. Quitting jobs can be daunting, scary, and uncomfortable. When you have done it more than once, it brings a sense of self-determination.
  • Today more than ever, make sure you are good at something. In the early years of your career, get as much breadth of experience as possible. Within your first 10 years, decide what you are good at. Have some skills you are going to hone. Be able to articulate your skills and experience.
  • Don’t consider long-term incentives early in your career (e.g., pension scheme). You create artificial handcuffs that aren’t there. Focus on the 3- to 5-year time frame. Priorities change. If you plan too far into the future, you risk opportunities passing you by. If you change jobs too often, you don’t build anything.
  • Associate yourself with people who really impress you; mentoring is very important.
  • Go where you know your skill set will be appreciated.
  • If you outsource work and skills that you want to learn, you will end up a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
  • The things you like are often what you are good at.
  • The industry’s growth region is the eastern hemisphere. Ferguson kept us enthralled for the entire length of the presentation (no slides!), and a stimulating discussion ensued. All attendees were left with plenty of food for thought.

Stuart Ferguson, Weatherford Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, offers career advice.


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