GE Oil & Gas: Industry Must Take Lessons from Uber to Attract New Talent

GE Oil & Gas: Industry Must Take Lessons from Uber to Attract New Talent
The oil and gas industry will need to take lessons from companies like Uber if it wants to attract a new generation of talent, say speakers at the 17th GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting in Florence, Italy.

The oil and gas industry will need to take lessons from companies like Uber if it wants to attract a new generation of talent, according to GE executives at the 17th GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting in Florence, Italy.

Rigzone, which is attending the conference, heard GE Oil & Gas Chief Information Officer Anup Sharma warn that graduates will come to demand the interconnected user experience provided by brands such as Uber in their workplace, and if the industry wasn't willing to provide them with such an experience, it would be bad news for oil and gas companies.

"Our industry has a very special challenge of attracting the next generation and if they do not have Uber-like experiences for getting work done or sharing information…I think we’re going to have continued challenge," Sharma said in a round-table discussion at the conference.

Addressing journalists at the event, Bill Ruh, CEO at GE Digital, noted the popularity of Uber, stating that the company's talent lies in making the lives of its targeted audience easier:

"The reason people like Uber is not because they have the best taxis: they don't own any taxis. It's because they have the best user experience….I think people in [the] industrial world have not put the effort into making sure to provide something that people like. The reality is not that they like it, they like it because it makes their job easier."

The urge towards a shift in user experience comes amid an impending "Great Crew Change" in the oil and gas sector, which will see around 50 percent of the industry's workforce retire. 

"Everybody's stopped talking about crew change. It's a reality, and whether we're in a down-cycle or not, 50 percent of the crew will retire,” Sharma said.

Kishore Sundararajan, GE Oil & Gas's chief technology leader, echoed the words of his colleagues, suggesting that the energy sector simply had no choice but to respond to the expectations of the new generation of potential oil and gas recruits.

"I think that user experience is going to be key because it's going to be demanded by the new generation. It's an expectation. And if you look at oil and gas industry demographics, and look at the retirement [levels] in the next five years, you’re going to get in a fresh crop of people who are coming in with an expectation of working with an iPad and iPhones. You have to just deal with it," Sundararajan said.

GE is not the only company which has warned the industry to start tailoring its technology to recent graduates, if it wants to attract new talent. Late last year, Rigzone spoke to Bruce Calder, Honeywell Process Solutions' chief technology officer, who suggested that the sector needs to leverage the technology that millennials helped create.

A graduate in journalism from Cardiff University, Andreas has eight years of experience as a business journalist. Email Andreas at andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com

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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
David Thompson | Apr. 15, 2016
I have had to train a bunch over the past 10 years and I wouldn't consider more than a half dozen as qualified to run a well. Most of them think that you sit in the office in front of a computer and ignore what's going on outside ... I have had a few who followed me around as I did a morning mud check, asked questions about why are we checking this, because it tells us this. Then when it came to writing up the treatments, the question was, 'How do you know how much to use?' Experience. I'd rather have an old toolpusher as a company hand, because he was there when there was still a brake handle and could feel his way into a twisted off mud motor.

Praveen | Feb. 12, 2016
Well, opinions are opinions but what percentage of opinions turns out to be strategy a real one, matters. The philosophical aspect, in general which is a must for each and every individual or to a co. is that...how realistic is the World in which you are living? or you an illusion bound? or whatever you see / experience is real?. One should not scale up the need of the hour into a Necessity a clear boundary should exist between the two i.e. a talent with a modern high end phone or any other sophisticated gadget. By the way who created them, are the real talents (just for this example). The need of the hour and the generation to come is how to identify the real talents, nourishing them (remember, beyond the corporate model) so that they get retained to grow along with the company. The other things will automatically fall in place. A regular monitoring of the senior leaderships (especially with the satellite offices) is critical which need to make them real accountable than looking at the bottom of the pyramid (which is entry level, mid level) for the shortfalls. You need to build a BRAND through the talents who wants to build a Career (& not a job)

Martin Reese | Feb. 5, 2016
I think Mr. Sharma is addressing an issue that exist for many Blue Chip companies finding themselves in the middle of a Millennial change. What I see in the article and some of the responses are in correlation to culture. Many of the oil giants still rely on micro management and task driven philosophies to make it through the year while using terminology that gives the appearance of a modern work pace. As an example many tech companies use collaboration in a manner that allows employees to work and help grow each others knowledge base only relying on management for a few limited factors. This formula works well in an office environment but what about the people who put their lives at risk? the riggers, pip wielders etc. If Mr. Sharma is proposing that big oil companies share in the profit by offering the employee 60 or 80% of their contribution than all I can say is Hahahaha! that wont happen. The industry does need a makeover but it cant just focus on the young talent it has to focus on young and old talent, bridging the gap and creating a greater since of job security. I could go on and on but I will close with the reason technology is slower in some industries. Most technology requires someone to operate it, repair it when it malfunctions and determine if the information it puts out is accurate. A person whose life is in danger while performing a work task finds this to be impractical (see Tommy S Feb. 3, 2016 response) which means big oil must be willing to provide additional training (OJT) which will cut into executive bonuses (see Jose Lopez Feb. 4, 2016) hence no investment in people.

Jose Puig Lopez | Feb. 4, 2016
If im honest I think people is going in a wrong direction, Im a 23 years old graduate geologist, companies alreadt have the attention of graduates, the problem is that they dont invest in formation, once you finish your studies its like you can forget about practicces or internships at companies..problem number 1: invest in programms for people who is not studying anymore, we want to apply our knowledge. If you want to atract graduates stop looking and posting adverts for people with 3-15 years of experience..if you continue by this way you are going to have a lost generation who is never going to acquire work experience..problem number 2: start hiring or giving opportunities, despite the fact the oil prices are low, young people is prepared and very keen to give the 100% for an opportunity now a days, believe in young people. Finally, I dont need Iphones or Ipads to work, just give me a laptop and one opportunity..Companies, focus on the main problem please and think in the graduates, we are the future, invest in people.

Tim G. | Feb. 3, 2016
The oil and gas business is consolidating around fewer and fewer suppliers of equipment and it is incumbent therefore, upon those equipment suppliers to provide a quality product to this strategically important industry. Rather than looking at Uber and its usage of the internet, I would prefer that equipment suppliers look to the quality of their products at a time when expertise is being lost, the costs of equipment failure are rising and the reliability trends in our industry are downwards. Mr Sharma appears to have missed the point when he compares a newly birthed, technology industry alongside the purveyors of big lumps of iron, albeit high tech lumps of iron. We need quality now.

Tommy S. | Feb. 3, 2016
Really? Im not one to post comments on such articles, but this one really struck a nerve. After spending at least the last ten years fighting smart phone, I Pod and other digital usage in the work place, the only time I can see that Uber would come into practice is to get the employee out of harms way because they havent the awareness to understand the impending blow-out, or high psi danger because of texting, gaming, or social media episodes that are currently in fashion. Im not saying that the digital wave is a bane to the industrial sector, but we definitely have to study this area closely to incorporate the right aspects within the workforce to keep progress moving ahead and not allow the workers to harm themselves. As for the retiring workers, most of us in the age bracket that is discussed have already went through this back in the seventies and eighties..and although your article doesnt mention it they are exactly the people that you need to help you out of the current situation. We were the workers that knew how to work with minimum input to achieve maximum output. Not to be boasting, it was necessary and not at all easy. if that is what the next generation is needing to enter the oil industry, then I dont see the current crisis repairing itself anytime soon.


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