Talent & Technology Interview - A conversation with Lane Sloan, Director, Strategic Energy Alliance, University of Houston.
Feature - One can draw several conclusions from the results of this informal survey: Work/life balance is a huge issue for everyone. Flexible working arrangements including part-time work and telecommuting will help retain people of all ages. While childcare benefits are of interest to only a fraction of the workforce, for that fraction, they can be the deciding factor. The same types of flexible work policies and on-site daycare or childcare support that will help to retain young women will also help to retain young men. Often women are the primary breadwinners and/or healthcare benefit providers for their families and do not have the luxury of working less than full time. The key is flexibility to create a win–win situation for worker and employer.
Executive Perspective - "Resources are abundant, professionalism is high, and technology is there. Combine the three, add the necessary element of conducive government policy, and we will see great delivery."
Feature - Russia has a long, proud tradition as an oil and gas producing country, with production being won from some of the most inhospitable and remote places on earth. Oil and gas developments of the past, present, and the future in Russia often have and will be achieved against overwhelming odds by a Russian industry rich in resilience, talent, innovation, and capability.
The Long View - How do oil companies compete for the short supply of technical talent? Is there another approach to attract and develop the necessary skills across the globe to fill the expanding void of engineers?
HR Perspective - Recruitment has become the most challenging human resources (HR) function across all industries today. For a specialized field such as oil and gas, the challenges are enormous. Why is it so difficult to attract new talent? There are three main reasons. First, industrial activity across the world is at an all-time high, which has created more jobs and thus shrunk the availability of personnel. Second, the oil and gas industry has been hurt over the past 20 years because of its cyclicality and public perception. Third, the “baby boomer” generation is approaching retirement and the younger generation is not in sufficient numbers or experienced enough to fill the gap.
Feature - The oil and gas industry is seeing dynamic changes in its workforce, and in Ernst & Young’s report on Strategic Business Risks for Oil and Gas in 2008, workforce issues were identified as the number one risk. Changes in the workforce include an aging global population with many experienced employees having recently retired or planning to in the near-term, a geographic shift in where employees are needed, and fewer new engineers seeking jobs in the industry.
Feature - What must the E&P industry do to better attract and retain new talent? The answer is to improve the younger generation’s professional experience while simultaneously capturing the knowledge base of retiring technical professionals. As one E&P executive recently put it: “In the face of our so-called ‘crew change,’ we must find a way for our young engineers to experience more and our senior engineers to do more.” In both cases, technical professionals must increase their day-to-day proficiencies and shorten learning curves when it comes to adopting new technologies and techniques.
Feature - The current prospect for the petroleum industry is a future in which the big crew change retires experienced professionals without qualified workers to replace them. A lack of experienced personnel could cost the industry as much as USD 35 billion per year. To some extent, the problem has been alleviated by the rise in the number of petroleum engineering students in recent years.
Executive Perspective - Running a big company is not as complicated as you might think. There are only a few things you have to do, but high on the list is the ability to identify significant business risks and to decide how they will be mitigated. No doubt scientists will continue to argue for years to come about the scale and intensity of climate change and about the part in this process that human activity is playing. But one thing is certain, climate change presents a significant and immediate risk, not just to business but to the way we conduct our lives, and to the kind of world that we will leave to our children and our grandchildren.