ALLY Energy 2.0: Making the Job Transition to New Energy
Charli Matthews (Empowering Brands), Sarah Derdowski (CU Denver GEM Program), and Catherine McLean (Dylan Green) created space for a deep-dive of an Open Discussion centered around what it will take to transition roles and skills to new energy jobs. Lots of candid conversation was had surrounding the challenges of women leaving the workforce, transitioning various roles across different sectors in energy, and how to keep all voices and talent engaged.
Katie: Hopefully everyone is as excited. So let’s get started. So I just wanted to, first of all, I want to thank Sarah, Charli and Catherine for agreeing to come. Today, we are going to have a really good discussion about what does it take to make the job transition to new energy. And if you attended the previous session, you probably heard from different hiring managers. You also heard, I hope, from Airswept, that we’re doing a big study to look at transition on globally. And we hope to inform governments about that. So not just the US government, the UK Government, the sentiments that are kind of coming from the industry. I am so excited. You know, we’ve got Sarah Derdowski and Charli Matthews and Catherine McLean, and is it McLean? or McLaim?
Catherine: Tomato tomato.
Katie: What I’m excited about too, is that each of them kind of come from a different perspective. So I will tell you this, Charli, is a branding Pro. Okay, when it comes to how do I position myself? How do I position my company? How do I position anything? One of the reasons why I’ve asked Charli to participate in our conference is because she puts on our own conferences and does some great, amazing things for empowering brands. And I think she can weigh into the conversation around putting your best foot forward. And then Sarah is the executive director, Dean, I’m giving you a promotion, of Global Energy Management Program in Denver, Colorado, but their programs are largely all over online. So you can participate in those. And those are post education that you can take certificate courses and the like to get you ready for this transition. And then Catherine is a recruiter. She is actually in an exciting place she had her own firm, many years ago, and now has another firm. And she is going to talk to you about what she hears and sees on the street around the transition, she’s placed individuals from oil and gas. And I’m here to tell you that this transition is going to be what, 40-50 years, it’s going to take some time. And we want to keep the energy industry intact, right? We want to try and keep the talent warm and keep people motivated. And I know that we have some impatience, because I would be impatient to, especially if you’re looking for work. But we want this to be an open conversation. So I’m going to throw it to Sarah and Catherine and, Charli, I’m going to sit here in the wings and comment in as you guys comment, and let’s get this party started.
Charli: Awesome. Well, thank you, Katie, I am excited to be here. And I love that you put me in the category of branding. So I have to give a quick shout out to my team who helps with all of our branding, and suggestions. And so you know, talking about this, and so much that we’ve heard this week, as far as what are the jobs gonna look like? What are we looking for? What do we need to be? And what does it need to look like on a resume? I guess, as I’m excited to hear from Sarah and Catherine to figure out, Okay, how can I help people better position themselves, but also just encourage everybody that they are in can be part of our industry. There’s so many different job categories and needs out there. So just just a quick little comment from Charli to get us started. Looking forward to the questions.
Sarah: Well, I’m happy to kind of just chime in pretty much on the educational front. And so one of the best parts about my job is I could just see where people started and where they went. And so energy being such a small community in general, I’ve been able to see folks who have come through the program, or master’s level or some of our data certificates or things like that. And since we’re hybrid online, they can do this really and work full time wherever they are. And so lots of folks think about education because they are retooling. They’re looking to beef up one portion of their skill set or the other. And I get to see where they go and so much like Katie, how they’re doing a survey to kind of see where folks are making that transition. That’s exactly where we are. Because I’ve seen so much anecdotally I have 500 plus alumni from just my masters and seeing that I have, literally, folks with just conversations, I’ve started to see this huge trend of folks making that shift. So our program is over 12 years old, our average age is 34. So this is like the prime demographic and probably where many of you are right now, who are making that transition and making that shift. And I want to tell their stories so that that can help somebody else do that. But also those folks are hiring now. And they understand the values that people maybe in the oil and gas side or more supplier side bring to the table for this decarbonized workforce, and how they can really provide value. So I have some stories I can share with you all, but love to really hear your questions on where you’re struggling where you feel like you could use some input from us again, I come from the education side. So I always try to help and beef up retooling and, and really try to make education applicable. And not just the thing you are this ivory tower and somebody who’s never worked gives you this information to tell you how to work. That’s not true. We’re very adapting and changing now. And trying to provide those skills that you need. So that’s really where I’m coming from, I have lots of stories that I can share no matter what level you’re at, to see how we can help. So that’s really my piece. And I wonder, Catherine, if you could chime in kind of on your recruitment side?
Catherine: Sure. Yeah. So I’m Catherine McLean. I’ve been in the renewable energy recruitment industry for about 10 years, seven years of which we’re in the UK. I think I’ve made some progress recently, with oil and gas folks transferring into renewables, specifically solar. I work with a lot of solar developers had phenomenal feedback from hiring managers you have taking people from oil and gas, on level of sophistication that they have and the processes and procedures that they have been able to bring to the various jobs that I’ve been able to place them in. I placed mostly finance, like project finance, FPA, I do a lot in project development, business development, and origination, etc. I will say that probably what I think differentiates people in oil and gas from getting that job in renewables versus struggling to get that job is a little bit of luck. But it’s also tenacity. Really the people that get the jobs are the people that are just relentless, they’re not going to give up. And they use recruiters but they also apply direct, when they apply direct, they ping line managers directly that they’ve applied direct networking also is massive things like this things like rise women and cleantech sustainability on the west coast. So getting involved in organizations where you’re putting yourself out there to say: “Hey, this is who I am, give me a shot.” Those are the kinds of things I’ve seen candidates do that have worked. I think from my point of view, the way I’ve been able to get candidates from oil and gas into the industry is a hiring manager that is determined to do it, and I have their ear. But also transferable skills, like just in my little world are things like modeling, like financial modeling is huge. And there’s a lot of if you’re from a commodity background, you have financial modeling experience, there’s a good argument that that is very transferable to the clean tech sector. I’m so glad, lots of stories as well.
Sarah: Catherine, I did just want to kind of bring up that you brought up network. And that’s one of the pieces that I talk to our students and groups so much about, it’s not networking with people you know, I mean that’s great, but it’s not joining the petroleum club that’s in your town, it’s not joining pipeliners Association that’s in your group, it’s about broadening that net and broadening that scope, because one, you don’t know what jobs and titles are out there sometimes, because it’s not even in your space. So unless you’re talking to folks who know what those are, and you’re like: “Oh, I could do that.” Or that’s in my skill set. You don’t even know that exists. So it’s joining some of those groups. You mentioned, whether you’re in women’s organizations like We Rise, that’s great. But also, we were just talking about the solar conferences going on, there’s lots of these smaller conferences locally for you. But then there’s also these national organizations get out there and get in there and get a new guy or gal. And if you don’t know, the best thing to do is you can ask any question you want, you can ask the dumb questions.
Catherine: And I think it’s also when people get to know you, and then you’re asking for an opportunity, it’s a lot easier than when you’re just applying to something and they have no frame of reference. So I think that’s also huge as well.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s asking those questions. And again, you get the opportunity to not know anything and get to know people. It’s a great entry into building a pipeline to folks you know within a company that you’ve identified that you want to be a part of. You’re not asking them for a job at that point, you want to hear about their experience, how they did it and then if you find someone who has transitioned, that’s even better, right? Then they understand. So it’s how you’re building that network. And again, just using the opportunity or not knowing about that industry as your opportunity to get to know and know it. Everybody likes to talk about themselves and what they did and how they got there. You know, you’re not asking for a job every time you talk to somebody.
Catherine: Absolutely. I think also there’s some tricks that you can do on LinkedIn to find people that have made the transition. It seems like it was such a funny terminology. But if you did something on LinkedIn, like a simple Boolean search, so you know, petroleum, and oil and gas, and solar, and renewables and sustainability and clean energy, you’re going to wind up getting a bunch of people that have both experience. And obviously, it’s more likely that they’re going to have that oil and gas prior to the renewables, not always, but then you’re going to wind up with a bunch of people that have been through what you’re trying to go through that may be a more sort of targeted audience for you to try and engage with.
Charli: Awesome, and I think Andrea is coming on to ask us a direct question. Awesome. Hello. Introduce yourself.
Andrea: Yes. Good morning, everyone. My name is Andrea Bautista, I spent a long time in the oil and gas industry, and now doing different things. But basically my question is, we have the different women that left the workforce in the past year, and the numbers are pretty, quite scary. And aside from that, many of those women are starting their own businesses. And in my particular experience here in Texas, starting a business is a really good thing to do. And we have so much support, and it’s so much like, come here and have your own business, do it because it’s really good for you. So this is very attractive. So how do you think companies are going to attract all these women back to work once everything stabilizes? And how do you think they’re going to be like, okay, we can be more flexible? Because most of the women have all these work, outside work like the real job. So it’s really challenging. And right now I have, most of my friends are like, I don’t know what to do in terms of work life balance, why not? So different points, but just because, thank you.
Charli: Yeah, I’d love to jump on that one. So as an entrepreneur, I know that it is hard work, and it doesn’t stop. So to really make sure that you’re creating a company that you believe in, and that you can give 100% to, and you can create it as a company that does have flexibility in it. I mean, I love being able to not schedule something right in the middle of my daughter coming home from school, right? I have that ability to do that. And shift things around as an entrepreneur, but look for something you know, that you are passionate about, which this is what I wanted to talk about. As I’ve been listening, the energy industry is so important that you can look at any of these sustainable practices, renewables, however you want to say it and just know that you are running our world, this is important that these jobs no matter what job category is, it is helping us sustain our world. So, whether you’re a person on an oil rig before, and you’re moving in, you’re still taking care of and you can say it’s a job that you can be proud of moving forward. So thinking about that. And just as an entrepreneur in general, as a woman what does that going to look like? I’m nervous with you of what, what we’re going to be able to do to bring women back when they have taken on so many roles outside of our industry. And so we want to hear from you what are those struggles? What can we do, and I’m also really excited to hear about Houston. And this week, we talked about it and I’m going to get the name wrong, but it was Green Labs or something like that. And maybe you can help me out back there, Katie. Where they are bringing in and it’s basically an incubator for these new companies and startups. So there are a lot of resources about building communities and bringing people together. And I think that that’s where we have to do that to help these entrepreneurs.
Catherine: It’s Greentown Labs.
Charli: Yeah, thank you.
Catherine: No worries. But the thing I would say about bringing women back into the workforce, and I’ve had some real frustrations with this because I’ve had some really good candidates leave the workforce that I’ve tried my hardest to lure back. And they’ve wanted to come back and have had pressure from their family, not to come back. Which just infuriates me. But what I think is going to be key is the flexibility piece that Andrea was talking about. But I think it’s not just talking about the flexibility piece, because what I’m starting to notice, we’ve gone from remote, which happens super quick, and everybody was like jarred. And I think I’m seeing this tendency from companies to be like, we’re back in June, we’re back in July, and then like no, no, no. You can’t, we can’t, we got to like gradually do this. And I think that I personally don’t think remote is here to stay. But I do hope that flexibility is here to stay. And I don’t think that we’re going to go back to a five day in the office work week, they do think we’re going to go back two or three days in office work week for the most part. And so I think even just having that flexibility of like a mom not having to go in on a Monday or Friday, or Monday to Friday, I do think will help. But I think we have to demand it. Because it’s easier for these companies to say: “Yeah, everybody’s back.” It never happened, COVID is over. We have to make sure our voices are being heard that not everyone is back. Well, we want remote, but we will take flexible.
Sarah: Yeah. And Catherine, I’m so glad you brought that up from the recruiter side you’re seeing that from because we have power and numbers too. But you’re bringing in those solid candidates for folks. So you have that additional voice to that executive leadership and things like that. It’s so key. It’s really sad for me, we had a leaky pipeline or lost power and the lines however, you want to say it before, kind of with women in the workforce, and now work so hard to get this momentum to have it just be kind of sapped out within six months, it is really sad and scary for a lot of people. And I think we all can relate to this, I’ve had a kiddo during this whole pandemic and stuff as well, you’re already worried about showing your performance and value beforehand, much less in this remote space and stuff. And so you feel pressure to be on at 9pm at night or whatever, and all these things. And, and that’s just truly unfair. And I think we talked a little bit about this yesterday, companies have an opportunity, and I think are starting to do this, we had a spotlight was shined on this, right? So having advocates, Catherine, like you, as a recruiter, they’re standing up and saying these things, you’re having these solid candidates, companies not really wanting that diverse workforce, well, you want it, you’ve got to do these things. And so that pressure in order to get that so that they can, whether or not they truly feel that value culturally or not, if you want to look like that, and you’ve got to make some concessions. And we should use that to our advantage. So as applicants and things like that, you should use that to your advantage and talk about and really find out what flexibility means to you. For me, it’s not working at 9pm at night, that’s I don’t want that that is undoable for me. But if it’s, hey, I can come in two, three days a week, show you my value, provide you what’s going on, and let me work on projects the rest of the time. If you are in a culture that shows that it is all about getting it done, perfect, we are going to go well. And then I think there’s going to be more power in the actual employee to be able to demand that because they’re really wanting that. So I could get on my soapbox. I could not return and all that kind of stuff. But I know we have lots of questions and things like that.
Charli: Yeah, I think Gabriella, if you want to jump in?
Gabriella: Sure. Hi, everyone. So I have a quick question. I currently work in oil and gas and an R&D based lab. And I’ve been doing the Masters of Science and energy program at Texas A&M, and renewables have really interested me through the program. So I’m curious, as someone who’s more lab based, what kind of jobs could I find in the renewable sector that would be able for me to have a smooth transition and be able to contribute to the renewable sector?
Sarah: Well I’m happy to take the first piece of it, because yes, great program, excited for you to be working through it. And so glad you did that to get that exposure, right. Because you might not have ever known unless your classmates or faculty weren’t able to expose you to that. So I’m just thrilled that you’re doing that. I would say yes. Yes, there is opportunity for you to make those transitions. I don’t have a silver bullet or tell you exactly what it is. But there are plenty. For example, I’m in Denver NREL is right here. And let me tell you, they hire a ton of folks with your background and experience because the one thing that is you have is you have the scientific mind where you are literally doing physical science. That is what they are and what they are doing. And a lot of people at those labs, if you look at their backgrounds and the scientists, they come from what is historically been the larger part of the industry, which is the fossil side. And then some of the science is just science. That’s all it is. It’s just science. They’re not gonna they’re not gonna have any bias towards you. They’re just not look at the types of experiments you’ve done, where you’ve helped out, and then your education background. So for me, I would just encourage you to, NREL has here, specifically because I know that, has lots of opportunity to engage on internships. I could send you a ton of them if you want. And if you have, like summer interns, they’re posting for those right now, opportunity there, depending on what your specialty is, and things like that. There’s absolutely opportunity at Sandia, Oak Ridge, things like that. It just depends. There’s lots of ways to get in the door and even just do a project with them. If you can’t get an internship, since you’re in school right now maybe have that time, you can literally give you a contact, you can call her up. She works with JISEA, they have their big conference right now. And you say I want to do a project with you. And get that experience that way and get your foot in the door to get to know some of those scientists it’s a great community. So I mean, I think you have a lot of opportunity to be able to do this very smoothly and very easily. And so just just encourage you to start some of that outreach, and I’d be happy to help on that.
Charli: Oh, I’ll add water as well. And all the testing that is involved with testing our water, and how we’re going to be using that in the future is going to be really interesting, especially in the reuse of this process equipment, industrial space. So yeah.
Gabriella: Thank you.
Charli: Okay, Who’s that? Who wants to come in next? Darryl, are you with us?
Katie: Yeah, it’s Darrel, then Stephanie, Nicole, John G. And then we have an anonymous question for capital. There you go.
Darrel: Hi, welcome. How you doing? So my background is the world of fracturing. But it is actually in the operations on the ground on the pad and the heat in the rain, and the nastiness. And in this whole thing. I’m the one asking about steel toes and hard hats. Because that’s where I’ve been in the last nine years. So you’ve got a pool of workers who work rotating shifts, seven day 14 on seven off 2828. All sorts of rotating shifts, they do not live in the proximity of where they work. They are remote workers, except their remote is that they traveled to the job. They work and they come home. And this is also pretty typical of the pipeline crews. And that is not what I’ve seen in the green energy space. They hire local contractors, they hire local or big construction firms that maybe come in and they stay there for a long period of time and then they’re gone. The culture is different. That median wage in Midland County, Texas, Hector County, Texas is $85,000 a year. These guys don’t make that on $20 an hour. They make that on hours worked per week. Right? If you get on the highway at Midland at six o’clock in the morning, you’re already behind traffic. Those guys are coming in at 3:30-4 o’clock in the morning, they come home 6-7-8 o’clock at night, day in day out, and then they have their rotation days off. So in that aspect, most of that workforce is transient, they come in, they stay in man camps and they go home. And that workforce when I was active out there with my crews, we pulled workforce all the way from Mississippi, California. I have people I know currently currently that are in Arkansas working in Wyoming in Killeen, Texas working in Utah. And that is one of those disconnects that I see because you’re talking mechanics and you’re talking electrical technicians and then you’re targeting a whole lot of people who drive heavy equipment, operate heavy equipment and swing hammers. Right? That workforce transitioning off of oil derricks, those roughnecks and drillers and things like that, it’s a whole different work culture. And how do you translate that into this green energy space? And what sub skills and re skills are they going to need?
Charli: Now, Sarah, I think you talked a little bit about that before we jumped on. Do you want to just knock on your side first?
Sarah: Yeah, I can speak a little bit. Darrel, I think you make some great points. I think you know, it’s not the same. And let me tell you, I get a lot of these guys who come through my program, right. The best part of my program being hybrid is I get folks who are on those two weeks off, right? They get to come in and sit in on my classes come in person and then they do the rest online. I’ve had folks in Oman I’ve had folks working in Mozambique. That is the way they live or they’re up in Alaska, they do longer terms they do three months on, and then three months home. And so it is a different way of life. And it is a different, speak to some of our other topics, we are talking about work life balance, it is a different way to live. And people have been doing this for years, this is how the industry has been set up. And it is a major life changing adaption to get out of that. And to know that some of those jobs, there’s fewer and far between, some of them will still be there. But currently, the way that I’ve seen it, at least one kind of decarbonize role. So if you’re looking in the utility sector, if you’re looking at the renewable sector, if you’re looking at those it’s set up differently. It is it is set up differently. There’s a lot of contract work. But I will say one of the things that’s truly important that I’ve seen and ways that I’m trying to work hard to partner, really with some of our community colleges, those trades workers: if you’re a welder, you have a job for life, if you have electrician background, you have a job for life. And there are not enough people and you want to talk about a good wage and salary, their average salaries are $85,000 out the door. So I will say those jobs are very much needed. I worked with companies who are looking for management leadership roles. But let me tell you, the number one people they need to hire are folks who are actually doing the installations who are still actually up there climbing, wind turbines, things like that. Now the pay is different. But I think some of that is going to shift and change as there are more of these jobs out there. As there’s more demand for these to happen. And you’re going to see these groups come together and saying this is what we do. And this is our value we bring, you can’t have this unless we build it for you. And so I think you’re going to see some of that change. But it’s definitely going to be an adaptation of the way you think about what those roles are, and people who are in those roles. And that’s going to be a challenge. But one of the things that I’ve seen positively is, I’ve seen some of these guys come off of those roles and move into these management roles. And that’s what I do is I help them saying, like you’ve been doing this work that’s inside and out, you need to come up and step up and help to manage these folks who had that mentality because you know how they’re thinking. And so you need to kind of be a part of that change and help them kind of shift into it.
Charli: I do have a question for you, Darrell. Is it more that you’re concerned about the wage is going to be different? Or is it just that completely different way of life and adjusting people to maybe working more locally working on projects that are longer but not having to travel even if you have the same salary? Which one is I guess the bigger concern
Darrel: Mine personally, is the fact that I have to move. Just you know, a lot of the guys live in small rural areas. Because that’s the lifestyle they like, they don’t want to live in Houston. Right? They don’t want to live in Dallas, they don’t want to live here. But then when you start looking into where the wind farms are, because I have fractured oil wells right under that windmill. Right? I have pictures of the old Derrick under the fan. And you’re talking about living in Colorado City, Texas.
Charli: So maybe one of the ways is to make sure that we include this, right, like, when we’re looking at these jobs or or defining these jobs, what does it look like? As far as you know, adding in a travel to these places? I don’t know that there’s something for just, I don’t write the job descriptions here on the renewables. But something to think about as we move forward is where are you going to get the talent? Maybe you’re going to have to pay people to travel? I don’t know.
Katie: I was just gonna say the article. I know I’m not supposed to be participating here. But I have to because I really believe and everybody needs to be a part of this. And I and I get the whole ,if you’re not in the city, because I used to work in the field, thanks to Shell who put me on assignments in different weird places, or I’ve never been right. I’ve always been a city slicker. And it is my commitment, that least at least to the extent that we can in the US. I know that the UK has a massive energy transition jobs transition initiative going on for oil workers. But it is my commitment to make sure that this gets in front of the US federal government, because they need to understand that what we’ve created – energy 1.0 and the job the makeup, right, doesn’t equal what we’re trying to do. And so what can we do to make sure that everyone is included? And I know the Biden administration has said a lot about women and people of color, and we absolutely need them a part of this discussion, but we cannot let our amazing workforce that has powered this world for the last 100 and something years, go behind. The coal workers, I testified before Congress, and I had a congressman yell at me the coal industry was left behind. It wasn’t done very well. I mean, everybody recognized that in the end, they all live in West Virginia. Right? So we need to take these comments. And we need to make sure that your voices are heard. The good news is, is that there are mechanisms for that today called social media, it’s called these communities recreated. So I’m glad because you’ve been a very active participant in this conversation the last two days, and it has opened my eyes to a lot of the you know, what do we mean by all forms of energy and all people, because everybody needs to be a part of this, give me plenty of opportunity, we just have to make sure that we communicate the challenges. And aeroswift is going to do that, that survey. So I would encourage every day, we’re going to blanket this survey far and wide. And this is a call to all of you, please, please get your friends to use their voice to inform the government. Now on Monday, there’s going to be a session and I put that in the chat so people can get so people can read. And I understand that there’s gonna be unionized labor. And there’s going to be all kinds of talks about how to organize all of this. And it may not look like what we have today. But we absolutely need to make sure that we put our voice out there that I think the key thing with you, Darrell, is that we’re not screaming, right, and we’re not anti bright green, we’re looking at solutions. And folks like yourself can absolutely help bring some of your colleagues along and in this conversation, because I know there’s a lot of tension right now about this topic. You know, climate change isn’t a reality, we hear that. We hear all kinds of you know, it’s not going to go away, the price will go through the roof. We’re always going to need oil to some degree, but it’s definitely going to decline. And so it’s important that we have folks like yourself.
Charlie: They don’t know, Darrell, they don’t, they’ve never been out on a site, they don’t know about moving and travel and what it looks like to be there. And you know, just the dirty parts of the job that we appreciate. And then we also want to make better. So we have to just tell them, like, yeah, I want to live in the country, and I want to suit up for work. And I want to go home and be with my family. And they need to know that and they need to hear it. So I am so thankful that you said that. And I know Sarah wanted to say something, so I’ll pitch it back to her.
Sarah: I was just gonna say it’s it matters and what you guys are doing and being out there and bringing this up. And it’s a hard topic to discuss. And the one thing that I always say that Katie says is we need everybody and more to make this transition happen. Like we can’t afford to lose you guys. And that’s the thing that I think people are starting to get on board with hearing the Biden administration hearing the UN goals, World Energy Forum saying like we’ve got to bring everybody along, it’s because we literally cannot do it or have enough workforce. We can’t, oil and gas is bad enough about stealing people to people, right? Even if we steal all the people, we still don’t have the folks that we need. So it’s being able to position them and getting them in the roles that make sense for them. And last thing I was gonna say, I think Katie can throw up the LinkedIn, New York Times had an article that really talked about where renewable jobs are even in the US versus where oil and gas jobs are geographically located, they overlap. And that piece is really important for you, Darrell, when you talk about your talk to your guys to say like you want to live in the country, there are possibilities for that, but look and see what those opportunities look like for you. Because they might be different. And they might not be what you want to make adapt to. But what’s your priority and choices right now? Do you want to kind of maintain that lifestyle and things like that? And so is there a shift you can make that way? Or you know, maybe it’s a different type of job, maybe you’re going to move up into management and do that. And that’s going to be more in the city that equals pay, but there’s going to be some hard choices for sure. But we’re going to need everybody and it’s going to be some flexibility on both sides. So last, I’ll say that, because I know we got a few questions, but they’re all happy, happy to continue the chatter too. So just let me know. I’d love to do that.
Darrel: Thank you.
Charli: Awesome, Stephanie.
Stephanie: Hey, everybody, thanks for the opportunity. Appreciate the discussion. My question is about if someone’s looking to sort of expand their education and maybe add some credentials, whether their formal degree or maybe even more importantly, I guess, for my own question, if it’s less than a formal degree, something shorter, quicker. What kind of elements should they look for in a program like that? Like what makes a good program to help someone make the transition to?
Sarah: Well, I can answer briefly but Catherine, I’d love to hear from the recruiter side what to look for, as well. That’ll help educate too.
Catherine: I mean, it really depends on the job. So if you’re talking about like project management, like a PMP or something, if you’re talking about modeling and doing like the CFA, talking about accounting, doing a CPA. I mean it really depends on the job. Is their job in particular that you had a question about?
Stephanie: No, I mean, no, I was just thinking like, regardless of the topic, like the CPA and that sort of very formalized degrees. But if you’re looking for something less formal, is that even something that helps people get jobs like micro credentials or something? Is that something that helps people get jobs? And what’s a good micro credential program? For example?
Catherine: Yeah, I mean, I, it’s a broad question, it really depends on the job. But I mean, I guess when I think of a micro credential, I think of something that you can do in your spare time. So again, just going back to like what I said, maybe I’ve seen a lot of people do PMPs for that project management. This is a lot of project management in oil and gas, professionals that want to do project management or renewables. So that’s one. But I think anything that you do, that shows that you’re committed to going into this space is a positive. But quite honestly, nothing is better than experience. So my advice would be rather than doing a credential unless you’re 100% certain that credentials relevant to the job you’re trying to get, is volunteer your services for free. Because I think that experience will beat any credential. And what you’ll find a lot of times is when companies then take you on. So a good example, I took somebody from Houston oil and gas, I put him in New York, at an investment bank of all places. And he’s an analyst, right, a project finance analyst, that’s a really good modeling experience for oil and gas. And so what the company did was they liked him a lot. And they felt he had some super smart and talented. So in the transition to moving him up to New York and him resigning and all the rest of it. They put him in the financial modeling course that they like that somebody teaches. And he did that, while he was on his notice period was on time they pay for it. And he did it on his own time. It was like a nice compromise. So when he started, he hit the ground, he was hitting the ground a lot faster than he would have been if that answers your question.
Sarah: And I think that there are lots of micro credentialing out there. I think there’s some in the chat. We offer some stuff as well. I think, to Catherine’s point, experience is the piece that you’re looking for, right? So you can get the foot in the door. Because ultimately the job is what we’re aiming for. Right. At the end of the day. That’s what success has happened. And so I would say, I think there are good educational pieces. And you know, obviously I work in education. So full full disclosure here. But it does matter. And it matters for a couple of reasons because if you want to do that project, yes, you can offer your services for free. And to get your foot in the door to a company, that’s a great way because again, you’re building that contacts in that network. But if you’re a student, if you’re a grad student, it’s a little less intimidating. When you’re saying I’m doing a project or I’m interested in this industry and I want to do a project, this is a great way to get your foot in the door where they’re doing independent studies specifically, like talking to Gabrielle earlier she was interested in the labs and stuff. If you’re a student calling it it’s just a different experience, you get a lot more of people’s time openness, willing to work with you on specific things, right. And then you’re starting to build that network and get to know people. As far as credentialing. Yes, you can build up your skill set so you can highlight it more in your resume. And one of the things we’ve done, obviously, we’re digital world data analytics, right? So whatever portion if you’re an engineer, how can you highlight that, whether it’s you’re looking to shift into a more analyst role? I find a lot of my geoscientists are excellent, actually, at the financial pieces and markets, they just, they got the math, they’re just kind of retraining on to what they’re looking at and how they’re analyzing data, because data is data at the end of the day. So yeah, some of those classes are going to help and you don’t have to spend a ton, you absolutely can go and get your masters. I encourage a Masters not just a flat MBA, I think that’s important. That’s gonna help if you want to move up into those leadership roles and experiences to help you manage people. Ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s a big piece of what we need to educate our folks on is how to manage the people in this new world. And then you can do certificates, because you might have a masters in a technical field already. And you need to kind of shore up those specific pieces. And there’s lots of certificates out there: three and four courses you can do while you’re working. Now you can reach out to those companies. Now you can also build your network at the same time, as we talked about earlier, broadening your scope a little bit, learning jobs outside of just your sector of the industry. So there’s a lot of pieces that education can expose you to because you might not know those companies even. I held a webinar where we talked about transitioners and I brought up this company. Yes a huge company, huge company, not good see. And the thing is they hire a lot of oil and gas folks, all my oil and gas people on the call had no idea who this company was no idea. And so I think sometimes getting into that educational space, it’s a safe place, people sharing, you’re in grad school, you’re just you’re working full time, everybody’s like going through the same life challenges, makes you open enough to just share these experiences to be able to learn about these things. So yes to education, however, take what you need, because there’s opportunity out there to do micro credentialing to do just certificates to do a full Master’s. And again, it kind of helps to open some of those doors, whether it’s alumni networks that help getting hired, whether it’s doing those projects to get to know companies. And then just getting to know the broader sector in general. So, I do think there’s value there to highlight certain skill sets that you want to highlight. And then, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do it. So there’s a lot more control and power that the student has now, to say, “You need to show me what the ROI is.” And schools are stepping up to that, to help them do that. So I would say lean into that, use it as a resource.
Charli: I just want to add one thing about you yourself, and understanding what your strengths are. So do some work on that personal development side to find out what are your top 5 strengths and then work within them. And make sure you do research some of the areas to say, “Would I like to do this? Is this something that I am passionate about?” Because you want to love what you do. Development work and working on self is so important. So I would look that up. I’ve always used strengths finder but there’s plenty of other ways to find out what your top core strengths are, as an individual.
Charli: Alright Nicole, do you want to jump on?
Nicole: Yes, I guess my question is back on to Stephanie’s questions. I have been, over the last couple of months, sat in on many conferences, many talks, ect. And most of the transition that I see is great for those that are in finance, law, accounting, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a pathway for geoscientists. Especially for those who have been in the industry for 10-15 years. We already have a Master’s. We already have our undergraduate. We already have experience. I even did my graduate work in geothermal energy. But there doesn’t seem a way, a path, forward. And at a lot of these conferences, everybody keeps talking about education, and U of H and Texas A&M University, those certificates are $15,000. Another Master’s in Energy is another $30,000. And we are already still paying off loans from the schools that we already did. To add another $30,000 that’s out of reach. We worked in oil and gas but not everybody worked for Shell, so not everybody made $150-200,000 a year. Some of us made less than $100,000 a year. So it’s just not within reach to be like “Oh yes, I’m going to add another $30,000 Master’s degree that I can do online in a year.” So it’s kind of frustrating to find out – well where are we supposed to go? Because everybody seems to be able to transition to move forward. And the geoscientists are like – hey we are smart enough, we got a Master’s in either geology or geophysics or something related. We can do things too, we can be retrained. But it doesn’t seem like anybody is giving us the chance.
Sarah: Yeah, I guess I can speak a little bit to that, Nicole, because I’ve had many conversations with geoscientists. I think you are right, you guys are a niche group. And I think it’s one that’s highly skilled in a very specific area. I have seen this 100% and have talked to some folks who have done that, and it’s frustrating. I am sorry that you are having this frustration, I really am. It’s a challenging space to be in. And I agree, you don’t necessarily need to go get more education, let me tell you, from someone who had carried a ton of student loan debt. I am very cognizant of that with our students, and I always say if it’s not a good fit let’s not spend the money. Because, again, my husband and I both carried a ton of student loan debt, that was more than our mortgage. And I don’t want to see people do that, just to do that, unless there is some added value for them to get out of it. I would say it’s positioning yourself. I would speak to some of it as to what Charli’s saying: “What are your values and what do you want to do?” I find a lot of my geoscientists, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know how to better position themselves, what those roles and jobs are out there that fit. What it is that you do. Because you guys are great with data, I mean excellent, detail-oriented. And those pieces are so crucial for a lot of the roles that are coming up. And I do put some of that on employers, to want to better understand how these roles can transition. I’m hoping that with some of these surveys, and things that are going on, that ALLY is working on, that we can help put some of that to the forefront. We even talked about bringing in some folks who had disabilities, who are good at certain AI pieces, because they are so focused and using technology all the time, giving those folks an opportunity or moving them to the top of the stack for consideration is really key. So, Charli, I wonder if you can speak to some of that personal value stuff that might help identifying what you, Nicole, and those in the geoscience space. Or, maybe Catherine too, when you’re looking at resumes, I know you’ve probably seen some geoscientist resumes before.
Charli: Yeah, I was just thinking of how this relates to the environmental scientists, and how those jobs are similar. I don’t know that, I would have to research that a little bit. But we have talked so much, this week, about what’s to come. The thing is, we need to study. And, I always relate back to water because it’s passionate for me. So I’m imagining the study of groundwater and what we’re doing, and that takes math and science and .. I’d have to know a little bit more about your job, Nicole, to dive in, it’s new to me, but it seems related and I know that that is an area where we are going to need help. The scientists that told us about climate change and all the different things changing on the earth. One thing in particular is our infrastructure next to any shore. Think of any city, any shore, the land is changing and we are going to need somebody to study that and help us. So we need talent and minds there too. That’s my input with my limited knowledge on your job, Nicole.
Catherine: I think that that’s a good route to look at, what Charli was saying, actually. One of the areas I have seen an uptick in, since Biden’s come in, is the environmental roles. So, a lot of the solar developers, wind developers I deal with, don’t actually have a ton of environmental folks. And when I say environmental, like people who are looking at land acquisition, people who are looking at, we learned a lot about bats and aviary, like all these things that need to happen in order for a solar farm to go up, or a wind farm to go up. So, I’m starting to notice an uptick in environmental roles, so that seems to me to be the most transferable from your experience. So companies, I am thinking Tetra Tech, is a big environmental consultancy that could be worth looking at, those sorts of organizations.
Sarah: Yeah, and I think it’s two parts Nicole. You bring up companies needing to broaden their scope a little bit too, as they look to hire. And then also our geoscientists, broadening their scope too, as to what it means. Because the roles aren’t going to be exactly the same, for sure. Tetra Tech’s a good point, Catherine, it’s a great organization and company that could also help you develop additional skills, as you would work on specific projects and things like that with them. So, I think it’s worth a reach-out to companies like that to try to see, Nicole, because it’s a good point. And it’s going to take efforts on both sides, I think, both employers looking to broaden their scope of bringing folks on who have these advanced degrees and skill sets. And then also folks within that community saying, “How can I fit into those roles?” And doing some research to figure out what those roles are because they don’t have the same names anymore, they don’t have the same descriptions, they are very different in the space. I don’t know how helpful that was, Nicole, but hopefully it was useful in some ways. And I know that we have some stuff in the chat too, people were throwing out resources and stuff for you as well.
Nicole: Ok, thank you.
Catherine: The job title I was thinking of, it just popped into my head, that I was working on is called Environmental Permitting Manager. And the hiring manager was very explicit. Of course, he was very open to hiring people from oil and gas, and in the end he went with somebody from a competitor in solar. But I think what you’re going to see is that their hand is going to be forced. I think, now, they’re still able to take somebody who is doing the role from a competitor, I think those days are numbered. I think there’s not a lot of Environmental Permitting Managers around there, for as many jobs that’s going to come, because if you think about it super logically: more projects, more environmental permitting managers, there are only so many, right? You know what I mean? It’s supply and demand. I’m not saying that that’s the perfect job for you, but it did pop to my head that he did say that he was open to looking at people not from renewables because there are only so many people who do that today.
Charli: Alright, I don’t know how much time we have –
Katie: We have about 8 minutes. I wanted to do two things. First of all, we have an hour at 11 central, on the REMO platform, if you haven’t joined us for networking, we’re going to move there. And this conversation can absolutely continue. And then at 12 we have a career fair. We’ve got a bunch of jobs I posted. And, again, I don’t know, Catherine, if you are going to be able to be around, but you are welcome to come, and Sarah and Charli. And we’ll make sure we try to spread folks out so they can kind of meet. But one of the things that I want to make sure we get to, because we’re having some technical issues, is there was an anonymous question, and I think this was important: “It’s hard to understand who the stable players are in the clean energy space. Many mid-career traditional energy employers may not want to leave the old guard to start-up, which it seems like most are right now. How can we find out who the credible players are in the clean energy sector?” That’s a really good question, Catherine, because I know you are dealing with those companies. And we’re starting to get some of those already. So what are your thoughts on that?
Catherine: One big shift I’ve seen in the past few months, is you’ve gone from a couple of big players, like Nextera, Cypress Creek, to a lot more big players. And when I say big players, I’m not talking about Shell, like I’m not talking about multinational corporations, I’m talking about companies that have 500-600 people. So for me, working with solar developers, it was historically a lot of 50 person companies. Those 50 person companies are very quickly becoming 250 person companies. So that’s a big shift that I’ve noticed in the industry. That you’re starting to have a lot of the Nextera / Cypress Creek sized folks coming on-line. And those folks tend to be the ones that are doing multiple technologies, so solar, wind, storage, rather than just one technology specifically. I would say, if you are looking at smaller firms, the best thing that you can look at is something called Crunch Base. So Crunch Base, I am sure you’re familiar with it, is something you can look at for free online, and you can see who their investors are and where their capital is coming from. And obviously, if they are getting money from Klein or Perkins, they’re one to back or break your ventures. If anyone’s worked at Google or Microsoft, they’re probably a company that is a start-up that you want to work for. And then you want to look at things like, I don’t know how familiar people are with series-a series-b series-c, so what your risk appetite is. Are you a person who is willing to take a risk on a series-b, a company that has some money in the bank and has been around for 2-3 years but not willing to take risk on a c company, that you have to forego a salary for 6 months, for example. Does that answer your question?
Katie: I hope so. Well, I think it’s great that you brought it up. The other thing that I was going to add to what you said is, we work Sonova, and Sonova is public. Is it Shell? No. Is it BP? No. These companies are trying to get their systems started, they’re trying to get their infrastructure going. They’re like many well-funded startups. So you have to remember that these companies need structure, they need order, they need people who can come in and help that. And that’s an area that’s going to grow so I’m glad you brought that up. Because that’s important for people to understand. That you’re not going to find some 30 year player.
Catherine: Well, Hannah-Armstrong. But other that’s the only one I can think of. The other thing that’s important, and I think that people don’t understand this enough, is that there’s some sort of feeling that by working for a brand that you’re more protected, than working for a start-up. And that is a complete false sense of security. If anything, working for a big corporate, you’re more of a number. I actually would say, working for a smaller firm, they’re going to do more to hold onto you because you’re more of a family and closer-knit.
Katie: Dead on! I mean, we’re a small start-up. You cannot afford to lose your institutional knowledge. Now, if the whole start-up goes through the floor it’s a whole different scenario. The last question I want to get to, it’s an anonymous person who says: “I’m an experienced oil and gas project manager and I’ve been on the hiring side, on occasion. There’s a strong bias favoring PM candidates with similar experience to the open position. How do I overcome this hurdle as a candidate, with extensive PM skills but zero experience managing a renewables project?” And the second part to that question is, the anonymous person said: “I’m in aerospace and want to get into solar but trying to get 10-15 minutes with a hiring manager.” So, I think a lot of people have this problem, I want 10-15 minutes with a hiring manager, I’m trying to make those connections, it’s very difficult. So, it’s a two part question here. The question about the experienced oil and gas project manager but has no experience with renewables. And the second question is how do we get face time with hiring managers?
Catherine: I’ll take the second one. So how you get face time with hiring managers is – I get pinged a lot, “Do you have 10 minutes?”, “Do you have 10 minutes?”, “Do you have 10 minutes?” I do have 10 minutes, but I only have so many 10 minutes in my day, unfortunately. I think that people are looking at it the wrong way, they’re looking at it as ‘can this person help me?’ rather than ‘can I help this person?’ So, hey Mr or Mrs company, I really like what you’re doing because of xyz. I would like to talk about how I could help you with what you’re doing, for free, for free. Let me tell you, when you offer your services and your experience in exchange for their knowledge for free, people actually feel super – and I’ve had this happen a few times – people feel super uncomfortable to take people’s services and time for free. But it does pique their interest, like ok we’ll have a chat. And a lot of times you will get a foot in the door and get some sort of paid internship opportunity or volunteer project opportunity because you’ve just differentiated yourself and stopped asking for something and gave something first.
Katie: Yeah, Catherine I think that’s a great point. I get a lot of that too: “How do I meet with people?” or “How do I get time with people?” I think the other thing people really need to realize, and I love my customers who are on the phone because you’re wonderful, it’s so hard to get anyone’s attention right now! Period. Period. This is the pandemic, people are stressed, they’re working extra, they’re not reading their emails, let’s face it, we’re not even reading our emails as we should. We’re working too hard. So it’s very distracting. I think once things start to settle in again, whatever the new norm is going to be, it’s going to be easier and people are going to want to connect in person. So it gets back to, somebody said tenacity earlier. And then on the PM question, Sarah do you have anything to add to that? I have my PMP, I haven’t kept up with it, but do you have any thoughts on that one? I mean, that’s another one of those, “huh,” you really need someone to take a chance.
Sarah: Yes and no. I think it speaks exactly to what Catherine said. We’re not always asking for something. You’ve got this PMP search, people know what your skill set is. It is very clear when you have that. Let me tell you, go and check out whoever this is, AMP Energy, right now they are hiring, the biggest thing they want is they want PMP experience. Let me tell you, there are a lot of oil and gas guys who have gone over there because they understand the diligence that those people work with and understand the complexity of the projects that they’re working on. So go check them out just in general. I would say it’s doing what Catherine said. It’s not just going in and asking for something. It’s building those connections, “Hey, I got a PMP. I’m interested. I have oil and gas background. I know you do this. I just want to talk to you about how you did it, not I want a job.” And then start those conversations and start to build that network out, that knows you have a PMP, knows you’re interested. Be the new guy or gal and ask questions and go in there and start to learn and understand and create this group that knows- not only 1) that PMPs are out there in oil and gas but 2) that you’re out there and you’re available and you want to make this transition. Or you’re what I call energy-curious. So get out there any learn the other pieces of it and truly be that energy professional and not an oil and gas PMP. That is not what you are and if that is on your resume it needs to come off. That is not how you need to be identifying yourself. And Charli can probably speak to that, on your personal branding, that is not what we are anymore, we are energy professionals, we have long-term energy careers that are going to move the gamut of what energy looks like. Whether it’s energy tech, you were a baker? Now you worked at an energy-tech company, you did not work at a service company. Hopefully your resume and your social presence reflects that. So it’s doing some of that self work but also doing some of that visual work of how people see you. And helping to build that network out, where you’re not asking for something. It’s like mentor programs. If you’re just asking for something you’re not going to get what you actually need because it’s a give and take. So build that value up so that you can actually then ask, or somebody thinks of you. So that would be my suggestions, and I know that that’s a lot of work to get in there but whoever this is, with the PMP, you’re going to get it, you’re going to make the transition, you’re an ideal candidate.
Charlie: I love the word curious. Just a last comment. Get curious! Look and see what these job titles are. But definitely, the shift, I think Katie you already made it from oil and gas to energy, right?
Katie: Oh you better believe it! We were Pink Petro and now we’re ALLY. But we were doing it for a really long time. We didn’t have time to just stop and do it. Two minutes over. We shot the link several times, 11 o’clock, if you’re not coming to the career fair or you’re not coming, we can get you the link in the other session. Come! Come talk. This has been wonderful. This was intended to be a riff session after what we heard. Hopefully you feel like you’ve been included. We tried to get through a lot of these. I know we didn’t get through a lot of these. So please, when we ask for feedback, let us know how we can improve this experience. We know that we’re probably going to be working from home a little longer and we should be doing more of these kinds of things. So let us know, connect with all the panelists. I know, Catherine, your LinkedIn is probably blowing up at the moment. I listed some resources too: workrise.com, that used to be Rig Up, they raised $500 million to put together this contingent workforce, a transient workforce solution. So go check that out. Cleanenergysocial.com is another one, and then obviously ALLYenergy.com/careers we are going to continue to grow our job pool on the site. And we can’t wait to see you guys at the break. So we’ll see you after the break! Alright, bye guys.