Never mistake a lack of volatility for stability. Due to many influencing factors, the oil and gas industry has experienced several cycles of meteoric rises and plunges in oil price. With the volatility of oil prices comes key business decisions in the industry, which may or may not directly affect the career of young professionals (YPs). Fig. 1 shows the monthly crude oil prices from 1946 to November 2014, adjusted for inflation. Following significant oil price peaks, for example, in 1979 and 2008, were the declines. Below are some of the historically consistent reactions during downturns in oil prices:
An increased drive to develop alternative (and cheaper) sources of energy
Increased employment in industries other than the oil and gas industry*
Enrollment in petroleum engineering education decreased, but after staying steady for a few more years near the peak
Job cuts in organizations directly or indirectly related to the oil and gas industry
Job restructuring, such as giving international staff new roles in their home countries, within the oil and gas industry
Knowing that oil price is cyclic in nature and very volatile, how can one apply the past lessons today?
Be a High Performer
It is true that at USD 30/bbl no job is indispensable. Nonetheless, being a high performer improves your chances of surviving the volatile times while actively advancing your career. High performers are characterized by their ability to deliver consistent and excellent results with a reputation for being competent and trustworthy. They master technical challenges, continually refine their leadership skills, and act as role models with a positive attitude that enthuses the company culture.