Along with the dramatic price changes in the petroleum industry including gas and oil, there is one resource that has been seriously overlooked and undervalued: experienced personnel in the field, including engineers and other technical specialties. The real challenge is how this lack of experience is overcome in the short term, rather than just waiting for the passage of time. The petroleum industry can make significant gains quickly by investing in true, on the job mentoring. It could mean the difference between success and failure. Companies could be focusing less on headcount, and more on effective and well organized mentoring programs.
The shifts in supply and demand over the past three decades have at times left many within the technical side of the industry barely holding onto their jobs or looking at other vocations in order to maintain employment. Hoping to ride out the waves of boom and bust, those with valuable experience are not passing on their knowledge at a rate that can sustain our industry. These trends have led many colleges and universities to back away from true Petroleum degrees. Now that a demand is increasing again, how can the voids be filled quickly in the field with qualified and well-trained personnel, while the slow process of ramping up academic programs begins?
The only way to fill the void is through hiring from other engineering fields along with the inclusion of like-minded individuals with technical backgrounds. But now that they have been hired and are on the job, how can we maximize their success? The answer is mentoring. This paper will present the case with a personal perspective as told by mentors in the petroleum industry on both sides of the struggle, spanning three decades.