Compete or Collaborate?

Blog Post created by katie.mehnert Champion on Mar 16, 2017

After a fantastic week and HERWorld18 forum last week, I've been in Europe this week attending the IADC and SPE Drilling Expo.  Under the extraordinary leadership of the Trustee of the Girls Network UK and former BP Drilling leader, Oonagh Werngren, last night we had a standing room only crowd in our special diversity session to cover off the work we've been doing with the World Economic Forum to put a spotlight on the gender gap and to discuss what companies are doing about it. Big thanks to Vice President of Drilling, Leigh-Ann Russell with BP for her leadership on putting together a great conference.  


Leaders from BP, Shell, Chevron, Total Transocean, NOV, and Baker Hughes held poster sessions to talk through the 7 elements of the 2016 Davos Call to Action.  


And the room was full of women (AND) men talking about what more we could (and need) to do to attract and retain women.  The audience was engaged and talking about the actions we are (and can) take to drive the needed cultural changes forward.


It was refreshing to see companies in the same room talking about things we often view as competitive.


I've been talking (a lot) about collaboration, inclusion, and the nextGen and era of energy and what that will look like. Last night was a prime example where industry can come together to make a difference.  


I spoke about that in my opening remarks -- the need for industry to come together to solve this problem. And, our industry needs to go beyond ourselves.


The gaps are real.  


The past 2 years have been a bloodbath.  We've walked out decades of talent and left the next generation with the challenges (and rewards) of pushing the boundaries of innovation, new ways of working and embracing technology to drive a new culture.  And I believe they are up for it, but as leaders we simply need to go beyond seeing each other as competitors in the war for talent.




This war for people isn't a game to play inside industry.  It's one that exists
on the outside.  We've been too insular, too long.  And...our fledging reputation as an industry no one understands nor fully appreciates is steadfastly becoming irrelevant to the nextGen. 

Our mindset around the talent gaps and in particular gender and diversity need to extend outside energy.  This war is with Silicon Valley and Wall Street....the very (sexy) consumers and industry we enable. We need to make the case for energy as a career, very clear.  And with women (and millennials) it's about meaning.  How does MY work help and WHY does it matter?  


It is for this reason I launched Pink Petro two years ago and Experience.Energy last week.  We need to put a spotlight on what we do and a real focus on how to solve the problem.  As unsettling as it sounds, we need to push the communications boundaries in pursuit to educate and inspire the next generation.  And we need to look outside to STEM feeder talent pools where we may not have recruited previously.  Additionally, the war for talent after this down cycle is going to be exacerbated by the lack of hiring we didn't do in the 90s after the last downturn and we only have ourselves to hold to account. 


Lest we forget what we do is risky.  It requires competence, skills and experience.  Those things don't happen overnight. It's going to take time to build our talent base and we need new solutions and ways to execute. 


My opinion is it's time we take a view that we need to collaborate...not compete for resources.  We need to aim higher and tell the story we've never told....about the industry that has quietly powered modern man (and woman) kind.  We need to inspire the next wave of talent around the environmental and social challenges (climate and energy poverty) and show them we matter, they matter and we need them to lead us into this next era.


I'd love to know what you think.