While today’s newly-minted engineers and geo-scientists must cope with lower oil prices in the beginning of their careers, many of the questions at a day-long forum for young professionals at the Offshore Technology Conference dealt with the basics that most young workers in any industry grapple with. That includes the ingredients to success, work-life balance and ways to create new opportunities in a less-than-perfect economy.
Success boils down to three things: You have to like people, you have to love technology and you have to be candid, said Mario Ruscev, chief technology officer for Baker Hughes. When someone asks for your opinion, give it.
Lots of new professionals are more timid than they should be, said Rick Fowler, vice president of deepwater projects for LLOG Exploration. When they’re asked to analyze a project, they do more of a “data dump” than sift through the information and make a recommendation of why one option is better than another or why it’s better to wait than go ahead with a project.
But if you learn to analyze all the spreadsheets, you’ll become a more valuable player, said Fowler.
Another tip? Surround yourself with people who are trying to be excellent, said Fowler, an engineer by training “You’ll do well with that,” he said, recalling how he teamed up with a geologist who didn’t mind all his questions.
When it comes to career challenges, being married was the biggest one facing panelist Michelle Michot Foss, chief energy economist and program manager for the University of Texas. It’s difficult to be duel career minded, especially in an industry that requires multiple moves, without adding children to the mix.
The panelists also recommended that the young professionals talk to their managers about their career goals. If you’re hankering to go overseas, don’t get discouraged if the company isn’t sending as many workers abroad.
Fowler said his company works in the Gulf of Mexico but he still gets plenty of opportunities to travel to South Korea, China and Japan to meet with manufactured parts suppliers. Let your boss know you speak foreign languages or have studied the culture, he said. Or acquire those skills.