The new leadership needed in energy

By Dorothy Davis

I was recently invited to participate in an energy focused panel for the University of Tulsa’s newly launched Master of Energy Business program. Being in the middle of wrapping up the Summer issue of PennEnergy's EnergyWorkforce magazine, I was inspired by its theme of the Big Crew Change. What had been planned as a presentation on the increasing trend toward integration in the industry became instead a call to my peers to take up the mantle of leadership.

As a member of the PennWell team I am fast approaching my sixth year of being engaged in energy. In my role as content director for one of the most comprehensive energy news portals in the world, I am immersed in all segments of this industry. I live and breathe it. While it is abundantly clear that it is a good time to be in energy, it’s also clear we are on the cusp of change that goes far deeper than our standard boom or bust cycles.

Energy touches everyone. It is as vital, pervasive and complicated as agriculture in its global influence. Energy today, not in some unspecified future, desperately needs to cultivate its next thought leaders. On the near horizon is the loss of close to half of our industry professionals. While this is unfolding, global energy demand is poised to nearly double. Energy professionals both in outlying roles such as mine and in more direct fields such as engineering or the geosciences will need to fill those gaps with fewer tangible resources. It will require a leadership armed with a new set of dynamic guiding principles.

Diversity, collaboration and innovation are the words to remember. While functional and technical specialists will always be needed; those beginning or continuing their professional lives within energy must bring more to the table. For the energy industry to continue to thrive it must extend that table to accommodate more than its traditional business models.

The burdens of a strained global economy, environmental issues, resource limitations and the need to modernize are not petroleum problems or utility problems - they are global challenges.As our industry moves ahead in finding ways to connect and integrate diverse sources across large and small networks to meet these challenges, those of us who strive to lead must do the same with our business approach.

We must adopt an all-of-the above tactic in all things energy. I do not say that lightly. Those words are deeper than a proposed policy or some biased political statement. It is a way forward that respects the heritage of the energy industry while taking the necessary steps to ensure it continues to flourish.

A culture of diversity, collaboration and innovation is required for the years ahead. What once constituted business as usual no longer applies. Business is anything but usual. It is indeed a good time to be in energy, but it’s an even better time to be a trailblazer.

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