En Route: The New Generation
- Alain Labastie (2011 SPE President)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 12 - 14
- 2011. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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During my various trips to visit SPE sections, I have on most occasions also met with students. I also had the opportunity to meet with groups of young professionals, mostly in dedicated workshops. These were very interesting and pleasant experiences.
All these young people are quite impressive. The way they are organizing their SPE activities and the initiatives they are taking denote more maturity than my generation exhibited at the same age. For them, SPE is really a prestigious organization, and they have fully understood how to take best advantage of what is offered by our Society. They are really open minded. To them, globalization is not just a concept; they have abolished many borders, and they want to establish contact across legacy borders. Last year, I attended a meeting in Poland that was organized by students for students from all our European student chapters. This experience was really wonderful—an intense exchange of ideas between students from Siberia to western Europe, with also very lively social activities. (This is important for students! Note that I did not join all of these.) These students fully under-stood that SPE forms a unique community, without borders.
When meeting with these students or young professionals, I noted some-thing interesting: the questions they are asking are almost the same everywhere. Typical questions are about how to start a career, technical vs. managerial careers, oil companies vs. service companies, and work/life balance. Our young professionals are really open to the outside world, to the Society. I believe that for them the image of the “industry hero” is somewhat different than for the older generations—their “industry hero” is somebody who is fully loyal to his/her company, but who no longer devotes all of his/her time and energy for his job, and who keeps some time available for social activities. As an example, many groups of young professionals and students are involved in charitable activities. I believe that this balance is excellent for the industry. The public’s perception of what is socially and environmentally acceptable is quickly changing and will play an increasingly important role in our activities. Having staff who are more attuned to societal issues will definitely help us to better understand public perceptions of our industry.Another positive point is that this young generation includes a much higher proportion of women than in the past, which will certainly reshape our industry. Diversity—in cultural background, education, experience, and gender—provides different perspectives that can lead to greater innovation. Companies with a gender balance will have a clear advantage.
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