Robertson: Let’s engage young professionals through 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference

Posted on 23 February 2012

By Linda Hsieh, managing editor

The industry must work to help its younger employees grow from experience and embrace the culture of the industry, said Julie Robertson, chairman of the 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference. “That won’t happen unless they have the opportunity to attend events such as the Drilling Conference,” she said.

The personnel shortage facing this industry poses a critical challenge that could limit growth in the coming years. However, if handled well, the industry could turn that challenge into an opportunity to fuel the business with new ideas and next-generation perspectives. This means that not only do we have to recruit and train thousands upon thousands of new workers, we must reach out and engage them on a more personal level. “We need to encourage the new generation of employees to see this not as just a job but to make a life-long career out of energy,” said Julie Robertson, chairman of the 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, 6-8 March in San Diego, Calif.

Ms Robertson, executive vice president and corporate secretary for Noble Corp, notes that the current generation of entry-level employees attaches significant value to personal and professional development. Further, it’s estimated that upstream oil and gas companies in North America are likely to lose more than 60% of their employees in the coming years. “We must do more to mentor those who are at the early stages of their career in the energy industry,” Ms Robertson said.

She believes that one of the best ways to realize this goal is to have young professionals directly engaged in industry-sponsored professional development opportunities, such as the upcoming Drilling Conference. The event will offer many developmental opportunities for participants at every level, and companies should make special efforts to encourage their young professionals to attend this industry function.

“Your support for this event will send the clearest possible signal that your company recognizes the need to foster and develop the vital talents and essential contribution of our young professionals,” Ms Robertson said.

One event at the Drilling Conference specifically targeting the new generation of employees who are ages 35 or younger with less than 10 years of industry experience is the Young Professionals Networking Luncheon on 7 March. The gathering aims to expose young professionals in the industry to the latest thinking in E&P technology and management skills and prepare them to evolve into industry leaders of the future. Participants at the luncheon will not only learn about the development programs at industry-related companies but will also have the opportunity to network with this year’s Program Committee members in an open forum.

“We need to help our younger employees grow from experience and embrace the culture of our industry, and that won’t happen unless they have the opportunity to attend events such as the Drilling Conference,” Ms Robertson said.

Noble, which plans to add well over 1,000 new employees to its organization each year for the next three years, is encouraging not only its own personnel to attend but also their customers’ and vendors’ employees. “This will be a great opportunity to develop the industry’s work force and spread the industry’s culture,” she said.

Besides 18 technical sessions covering everything from shale drilling methodologies to drilling systems automation to fluids and bits, three plenary sessions will be held with key industry leaders.

Thriving in change is the theme of the first day’s plenary, where panelists will discuss how industry can adapt and thrive in the changing world by translating our continuous improvement into a greater public understanding of drilling operations. Scheduled to speak are Martin Vos, Shell DW Wells; Chad Deaton, Baker Hughes; Kevin Neveu, Precision Drilling; and David Payne, Chevron. Frank Springett, National Oilwell Varco, will moderate the session.

On the second day, industry leaders will tackle the topic of sustainable evolution, highlighting people, process and growth. Do we have the right people assigned for the task? Do we communicate and execute the right processes to achieve the desired results? Do we have the right people aligned within the task, executing the right process while managing growth? On the panel will be Lori von Heyking, Halliburton, looking at the people aspect; Brian “Bru” Brurud, Check 6, looking at the process aspect; Richard Roper, Ensco, examining growth; and moderator Kelli Harrington, Chevron.

Finally, the third day’s plenary will assess trust in the oil and gas industry. Although the petroleum industry has long been viewed by the public with mistrust, the fact is that this business is a strong positive force for good in the communities in which it operates. Further, it is an indispensable engine for economic development. To continue to expand our license to operate in new areas and existing fields, industry must work harder to build trust. This panel brings together specialists in public relations, media and organizations focused on the issue: Martin Durbin, American Petroleum Institute; Quentin Dokken, Gulf of Mexico Foundation; and Tom Williams, senior adviser to the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program. The session will be moderated by George Foster, Foster Marketing.

To register for the 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, click here.

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