Our petroleum industries, especially the upstream sector, where exploration and drilling happen, are in their nascent stages. For instance, Ghana’s upstream will become more relevant after 2017, which means if you enter around this time, you are in for the long haul. You will get the space to grow with the industry as pioneers and you could get many opportunities to become experts in the coming years.
Here are five things you can do now to boost your chances of doing well in the oil and gas industry.
1. Have a full understanding of your degrees to identify the various sectors of the industry you can work in.
In making educational choices for your career, it is important to understand the concept of generalist and specialist degrees. Usually, if your second degree is a generalist degree, you may be able to use it to move from one industry to another. If you opt for a second degree that is more specialist in nature, you can use it to move up in your current industry. In some cases, people with generic expertise have more options than specific expertise. This is not a rule, it is merely a common observation and some people have been able to switch industries, by demonstrating key transferable skills needed by their new industry, irrespective of what they studied. For example, I am a trained Food Process Engineer. This engineering programme belongs to the family of Chemical Engineering with specialization in food processes. When I decided to move from my specialised food process engineering role, I chose a second degree which will make me more versatile in the broader process industry. My second degree, Process Industry Business Management is a multi-industry programme applicable to all the process industries and not just food. This therefore gave me exposure to all aspects of process industry including the energy and petroleum industries, food, water, and the pharmaceutical industry. My master’s degree helped me to see how the two degrees complement each other as it helped to close the gap between the knowledge required in the petroleum industry and the food industry. This knowledge boosted my confidence by making it easier for me to move from one industry to another, and also helping to identify the various roles/sectors of the industry I can work in.
Do you fully know and understand how your master’s degree will complement your first degree to show you the various sectors you can work in?
2. Identify the skills, knowledge and expertise from your previous jobs needed for the next job.
Counting internships, I have spent close to three years in the food industry in varied roles; production, technical, design and fabrication, teaching, quality assurance, compliance and certification. I therefore leveraged my expertise in process improvement and extended it to the petroleum industry which is a more established field of expertise. Transferable skills acquired in the food industry are fully utilised in my current role; leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, etc. Proficiency in spreadsheet, word and data processing, computing, etc. have also been utilized extensively in my new role. Therefore take time and list the skills, knowledge and expertise needed in the oil and gas sector and match them with those from your previous jobs. This way you will be able to market and sell yourself as the right person for the job as your potential employer will see you as someone with the experience and not someone new to the industry.
3. Set realistic expectations for your return.
Be sure of what you are looking for upon return after your studies and know that things may take a while before they turn good for you. I had considerable juicy offers from the food industry in management roles including my previous company. I refused all of them mainly because I wanted to have an experience with the energy and petroleum industry. I paid the price of not going back to my first love, food industry, even with juicy offers. It is not rosy staying in the house for almost 18 months after a top notched education with transforming potentials.
After many unsuccessful interviews, I finally landed a job role at an Oil Marketing Company in Ghana which has other interests including upstream services. The role is similar to my previous role, dealing mainly in quality assurance, process improvement, regulatory compliance, etc. with additional responsibilities including Health, Safety and Environment.
4. Make yourself a lifelong learner.
The Petroleum Industry is the mother of industries which pulls all industries along with it. The expertise and standards are relatively higher than most industries. Therefore, for one to thrive in the Petroleum Industry, one should be a continuous learner. This industry doesn’t only fuel the economies of nations but it comes with a strong political influence. One should learn it through and through and float with the tides.
5. Understand the power of association In the Petroleum Industry.
In this industry, one will need to liaise and have a rapport with the regulatory authorities, immediate environment, customers and all other external parties and stakeholders. Therefore you will need to learn and understand the power of association and networking (netweaving) as you will fall on your associations to chart a successful career in this industry.
Don’t forget wherever your vocation/expertise will lead you into the Petroleum Industry, it is more blessed to be relevant and significant than to be in an organisation you won’t be challenged to growth, develop and add value. Don’t look too far, there are many young Petroleum Companies where you can learn, be significant and prepare for higher roles in this nascent industry whose fullest potential realization will grow with our generation.
Give it a thought! I wish you a successful chart in a career in the Petroleum Industry, the mother of all industries.
About the author
Kwamina Sagu Ekremet is TGSS alumnus from Ghana. He studied Process (Industry) Business Management from the University of Warwick. He is a Process Improvement and Compliance professional who is passionate about health, safety, environment, quality assurance, process improvements, regulatory compliances, international certification and auditing. He is an ISO International Registered Certified Auditor (IRCA) and a Lean Six Sigma expert. He is currently the Head of the Compliance Department at AI Energy Group, a major player in the petroleum industry in Ghana. His desire is to bring sanity and order in the petroleum industry in Ghana. He also writes for Newaccra.Com