These are hard times. We all are looking for answers. There couldn’t have been more ambiguity around the global society. The corona outbreak has left us all wondering: what’s next? Amid all the conflicting information, confusion, and chaos, there is a clear sense of no control over this situation. Certainly, we all are anxious. Particularly, the people across the oil and gas community – one of the hardest-hit sectors. The younger generation is all the more nervous and overwhelmed with too much going around them. Just at the time when they are planning to begin their career in the industry, they have no idea where to begin and what to do. All the recent news about layoffs and unemployment in such times is only adding to their anxiety. Further, the generation that is already a part of the industry is suddenly feeling trapped and contemplating their career choice. Well, the time may not be on our side but there’s definitely a lot that we all can do for a more positive outcome. When this all ends, we will have something to look back to, something that we created in the times of corona.
For a better insight into career transition and preparedness during the corona outbreak, we speak to Mr. David Vaucher, an Associate Director in IHS Markit’s Cost & Technology group where he oversees the company’s analysis on North American upstream field operations.
In his book Drilling Ahead: Your Guide to Starting, Building and Securing a Career in the Oil & Gas Industry, Mr. Vaucher shares valuable insights from his career in oil and gas, to help both those who are looking for their first foothold in the industry. This book is also for those who have already started and want to know how to become more effective professionals. In an exclusive conversation with Energy Dais, Mr. Vaucher offers some valuable suggestions to manage your career path during the corona pandemic.
Managing your Career during the corona outbreak with David Vaucher
It’s the coronavirus’ world now, and we’re just living in it.
That’s my approach to a new way of life that could extend well into 2021: COVID-19 has been so unprecedented in its disruption of what the entire world took for granted that all we can do is roll with the punches and adapt as best as we can.
That’s easier said than done, especially for professionals in oil & gas – one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy where prices have tumbled to around $20/bbl for WTI and operators and service companies have been quick to respond by slashing capex budgets, laying people off and freezing plans for new hires. If you’re new to the industry or looking to join us in the near-future I understand the worry this causes, but I also have to level with you.
This is the state of things now and likely for the rest of your career.
Granted, COVID-19’s impact is unusual. Nevertheless, I guarantee you that once that becomes old news, something else will come along that will again disrupt your life and challenge your assumptions of how things “should be”: new technologies, climate-change, geo-political disruptions, or frankly “just” a re-organization at your company that has you working in a new group for a new boss.
In times like these I find it helpful to keep a few things in mind. First, wishing you could go back to how things used to be does you no good; maybe you can indulge in a few minutes of remorse but after that, let it go. Another way of phrasing this would be that at the very least, you should work hard at becoming “numb” to change.
You’d be surprised at how difficult just getting to that point is, but once you’ve reached it, next focus on proactively seeing the tremendous opportunities that change can bring. For instance, if new technologies come into the market, why not be one of the first to learn and apply them and open new doors for your career? Or, if a geo-political disruption does happen, why not put out a bulletin to your managers analyzing how this could affect the business?
Trust me: if you are truly serious about growing your career, you will learn to dislike stability and seek change. Stability means that everyone is comfortable and no one above you has any interest in moving aside; change allows you to make your own opportunities, and realizing that is incredibly powerful (a great, non-oil and gas example is Jean-Claude Biver and how he came out of the “Quartz Crisis” a hero of the Swiss watch industry, I highly recommend looking up his story).
Finally, observe what’s going on around you and learn as much as you can. If you’re still somewhat junior and perhaps aim to be CEO one day, keep in mind being CEO boils down to two roles only: laying out strategy and handling crises. If you’re really paying attention to what leadership is doing now – politically and professionally – you are getting a crash course in what to do or not do in times of crisis and how to adapt your strategy accordingly, and hopefully, you can apply these lessons to boost your own career. More tangibly and immediately, if you find yourself idled now is a fantastic time to take an online class or two (I like Udemy, but there are plenty of other avenues) to quickly add a new skill to your list of competencies. You can also check out courses at Energy Dais!
Good luck out there and stay safe!
(This piece was contributed by Mr. David Vaucher and Energy Dais reserves all rights of publication. Mr. Vaucher can be reached via his LinkedIn profile.)