Contrary to what some industry veterans are worried about, young professionals today are not afraid of hard work. They know what will be required in order to succeed, and they are prepared to do what it takes, said James “Corby” Jones, operations engineer for Pride International’s Deep Ocean Ascension drillship.
Mr Jones is one such young professional. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2008 with a petroleum engineering degree and joined Pride the same year under the company’s Management Training Program (MTP). MTP is designed around an accelerated training regimen to expose the employee to all aspects of the company, enhance industry knowledge and teach participants management skills. The participant is placed in a managerial role upon completion of the program.
“The single most important thing is to have a strong work ethic and be willing to accept every opportunity and challenge that is thrown our way,” Mr Jones said.
New and inexperienced workers also value their time with industry veterans – whom they see as a valuable learning source. The challenge is often getting the veterans to trust a new and inexperienced hire, said Rachel Buerker, management training specialist for Pride. That’s a common hurdle she sees in her job, which includes assisting the MTPs in getting as much experience and training as they can.
Dustin Husser is another recent recruit under Pride’s MTP, which he started in 2007 after graduating from Louisiana State University with a mechanical engineering degree. In just three years, his assignments have taken him around the world to Brazil, Mexico, India, Angola, Chad, South Africa and France. He is now operations engineer for Pride’s drillships in South Korea. According to Mr Husser, his challenge is having to reprove himself everytime he walks on a rig and there is a fleet of experienced hands. “They’ll test you and they’ll doubt you,” he said.
To get over that challenge, he learned, you just have to roll up your sleeves and work as a cooperative group. “When they realize you’re there to help them, they will teach you and work right along with you. Once they see you working hard, they are more willing to teach you what they have learned through their mistakes so we don’t make the same mistakes again.”
Aside from the MTP, Pride has also been using individual development plans and mentor programs for employee development. Individual development plans help workers define goals, map out ways to reach those goals and identify potential barriers. Mentor programs provide new employees with a connection to experienced veterans, said Ms Buerker, who holds degrees in psychology and managerial studies from Rice University.
As a young professional herself who joined Pride in 2006, she also encourages recent hires to ask as many questions as they can: “Those guys out there know a lot. If you don’t ask, you’re not going to find out. And if somebody is not willing to teach you, don’t be afraid to go to the next person to find the answers you need.”
From the other side, she also urges management to make time to meet with and engage its newhires. “Go face to face with them. It helps them to know and believe in the executives’ mission, vision and values if they have actually said it to you, not just in e-mails. You can send all the e-mails you want, but if you can meet them and talk to them, it’s much more credible.”
Maggie Cox contributed to this article.
Click below to see a video interview with Dustin Husser, Corby Jones and Rachel Buerker.