2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM

The 21st Century Geoscience Workforce: Global Opportunities and Challenges in the Energy Industry

SUMMA, Lori L., Supervisor, Global Geoscience Recruiting, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, PO Box 4778, Houston, TX 77210-4778 and LOUDIN, Michael G., Manager, Global Geoscience Recruiting & Development, ExxonMobil Exploration Co, 233 Benmar Dr, Houston, TX 77060, lori.l.summa@exxonmobil.com

Industry and government studies suggest that oil and gas will play a dominant role in supplying world energy needs for the next several decades, even with major improvements in efficiency, and growing use of alternatives. The demographics of the current workforce virtually ensure that future energy needs will be met by an emerging population of new geoscientists, seeking resources in ever more complex geologic settings and remote locations. To find and develop these resources, new geoscientists will work in a rapidly evolving world of high-end technologies, and large-scale, multidisciplinary, multi-cultural collaborations. How should geoscience departments prepare students for such challenges? In our opinion, requirements for a successful geoscience career in energy, academia, government, or any other global, science-based industry, are the same. Success requires technical depth in fundamental math and science disciplines, plus the creativity to formulate, test, and challenge a range of multi-disciplinary hypotheses, and sufficient “emotional intelligence” to work in complex organizations amid multi-country partnerships.

We currently meet demand for these skills with a variety of strategies: (1) globalized geoscience hiring to identify top talent worldwide, and advance cultural diversity, (2) a broad-spectrum approach that builds relationships with diverse departments and professional groups, not just those with petroleum-related programs, and (3) long-term investments in education to address gaps between future needs and existing availability. We have been largely successful in attracting and retaining high-quality candidates with these approaches. However, global opportunities for young geoscientists continue to be extraordinary, and we continue to learn how best to help develop the next generation.