Published previously on drillers.com, this piece has been republished here with permission from the author.
The question of how to break into, or advance quickly in a rewarding industry.
In an increasingly interconnected world I find that I often receive emails from either young professionals or mid-career changers asking for advice on both getting into and succeeding in the oil and gas business. Some find me through my growing social network, and others through the occasional articles that I publish.
Most writers don’t make any money from their articles or books, but are driven by a drive to share experiences and knowledge. So, when I get an email after I have inspired someone to take action, it is rewarding because it shows that I am helping others.
If I hear the same questions from different people, this often inspires me to write about it. Then instead of helping people one by one through email, the answers are published so that they can be of service for many years to come.
Perhaps the most common question that I get asked is:
“How do I get started in the oil and gas business?”
A similar question from people already in the industry and want to advance up the ranks is:
“How can I stand out and get promoted to more challenging and responsible roles?”
To understand this involves taking a step back
Let us take a slightly different way of viewing and explaining it…
When someone asks me a question like this, I ask them a couple of questions right back:
“Take a moment to think of some of the most important qualities that one would hope to find in professionals or prospective candidates, in any field or industry.”
“Now take another moment to think of the most important qualities one could hope to find in professionals within the Energy and Oil & Gas industry worldwide.”
Usually within their answers to both of these questions we find an individual who is a combination of a sound operational advisor, and a knowledgeable technical engineer.
As most of us know, these two qualities are difficult to find in one individual serving in a supervisory or management post. As with most industries, normally we find people who are either a good operational leader or a sound engineer, not both.
The solution is to realise which of these skill sets come naturally to you, and work hard to develop the other.
As an example, in my own chosen specialty, Rig Integrity, Resource Management, and Operational Assurance for the Upstream sector, one has to constantly strive to develop new competencies, in order to stay relevant and valuable to clients.
For the aspiring professionals in training, or those who have recently begun careers in the industry, this is a good opportunity to develop. Realise which set of core skills is their weaker area and focus on it going forward. Constantly striving for excellence in leadership and technical skills will help them to stand out from their peers. This enables them to market their services to a specific audience, as someone who understands, and can demonstrate that they understand the operations being conducted.
If you are a strong leader, with a high level of technical knowledge then you can handle any challenge. The confidence in knowing this can make it easier to demonstrate to an employer that you provide a particular level of value which distinguishes you from your peers.