Advice for Working Millennials, from Working Millennials

Millennials are that cohort of individuals born between the early 80s and late 90s, and love ‘em or loathe ‘em, you can’t ignore them. Statistics show that millennials are more diverse and more educated (more degreed) than their older generations (i.e. Gen Xers and baby boomers). They also stand to comprise 75 percent of the global workforce in 2025, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

So what impact will millennials have on oil and gas?

According to data from the American Petroleum Institute, nearly 1.9 million job opportunities will come from oil and natural gas and petrochemicals through 2035 – opening up the doors for millennials to replace retiring workers.

Women Energy Network’s Houston chapter hosted a panel Wednesday evening about the impact of millennials in the energy sector. The panel, made up of three millennials and one Gen Xer, somewhat mirrored what they expect to happen in the industry, an influx of young talent to take on important roles.

“Be proud of being a millennial, but be cognizant of the stereotypes surrounding millennials,” Sherise Davis, operations finance executive for GE Oil and Gas, told the filled-to-capacity room.

Davis, a millennial, admits she embodies some millennial characteristics – she’s had her fair share of jobs (millennial job-hopper stereotype), but she’s also spent the last nine years at the same company (debunking the same stereotype). She also admits to driving to her sister’s house every week to tuck in her niece who cannot go to sleep without her. On those days, it’s absolutely imperative she gets off work at 6 p.m. to make it over there (reiterating her need for a healthy work-life balance).

Panelist Chris Staffel, vice president of administration for PennTex Midstream Partners, who is also a millennial, shared what she considers to be core tenets for advancing. They are:

  • Work Hard
  • Build Genuine Relationships
  • Be Present
  • Listen
  • Take Risks

And speaking of taking risks, Dr. Genevera Allen, assistant professor of statistics and electrical and computer engineering at Rice University, lives by that advice and encourages others to do the same. Allen became a college professor at age 24, and in a work environment surrounded by older men, she wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted.

“The best advice I ever got was to go after your wildest dream,” she told the audience.

Doing so has been rewarding for Allen. She says she loves her job as a statistician and big data scientist and she’s also been named one of Forbes “30 Under 30.”

Panelist Lisa Finch, global diversity and inclusion talent attraction manager for BP, and the lone Gen Xer on the panel, shared advice on how millennials can build their credibility.

“Be proactive and take initiative,” she said. “Maintain grace under pressure. Essentially, that’s another way of saying ‘control your emotions’ or ‘play it cool.’ And be sure to build a team of sponsors who can champion for you.”

And those people shouldn’t always be women because the reality is they may not always have the authority to do so, she said. You have to ask men to champion for you as well.


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