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The Future of Petrotechnical Leadership: Developing Young Innovators for Tomorrow’s Challenges Through Volunteer Leadership

D.C. Barker, Cameron, A Schlumberger Company, L. Girgawy, Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, N. Tillmann, Houston Technology Center

The EIA 2015 Annual Energy Outlook predicts great uncertainty in crude oil prices over the next 25 years; estimates range from $76/bbl to $252/bbl by the year 2040. Rapidly advancing technology is creating new opportunities and risks for the industry, ranging from automation to cybersecurity and more. Additionally, nearly 50% of the industry’s employee base is anticipated to retire in the next 5-10 years. Of the 76 million baby boomers retiring over that time period, only 46 million younger professionals are predicted to be available to fill the gap. In light of these trends, how will the next generation of energy and drilling professionals prepare to lead when they are inevitably thrust into such an uncertain environment?

Clearly, such uncertainty will demand adaptive, agile leaders with broad experience and diverse backgrounds. However, gaining that experience is a protracted process; a balance must be struck between providing opportunities for young professionals to develop as leaders while also managing the inherent business risk. One well established solution to mitigating this problem is to encourage aspiring leaders to seek such opportunities outside the office in volunteer and nonprofit roles. However, while often cited, such vague instructions can leave these aspiring leaders in the dark about how to apply this experience to leadership within the industry.

In this paper, young industry and nonprofit leaders recount their experience partnering in local projects with a global impact, and how a rigorous approach to developing such partnerships and initiatives provides an ideal platform for future industry leaders. Results are detailed of how these partnerships directly address critical industry needs such as fostering an entrepreneurial culture, developing new technology, and promoting cross-cultural business exchanges. Parallels are drawn between this collaborative leadership experience outside the industry and its relation to solving key challenges faced within the industry.

While corporate career planning and leadership development programs typically value community service and nonprofit work, it is frequently a simple check-box in a list of desirable career growth categories. This study goes one step further by detailing a structured approach to create collaborative relationships between industry and nonprofits that will help forge tomorrow’s petrotechnical professionals, and ultimately build a more sustainable ecosystem for the energy industry in a high-tech, globalized world.

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