Guest column: Focus on the new and don’t fight about the old

By: Bernard Alblas, manager of the proposal department at IHC Services and chairman of Young IRO

Having a chat with other young industry professionals at 2017 IRO New Year’s reception we came to the conclusion that we are strongly underrepresented in the industry. We needed a platform from which we could positively influence the future of the Industry. Not much later Young IRO was born!

“Are you future-proof” was the opening title of Young IRO’s first event and led to a lot of positive responses and discussions between people of our industry.

Trendwatcher and TEDx speaker Ruud Veltenaar interviewed Jan-Willem van der Graaf (Seaway Heavy Lifting) and Edward Heerema (Allseas) and asked them questions about their career, mistakes, successes and of course their view on the future.

Afterwards Veltenaar talked about the future of the people and the planet. Central question was “Are you future-proof?”. How can we keep our industry in shape for future generations?

Veltenaar mentioned the importance of the industries focus and how value creation and creative thinking is of greater importance. He suggested the boardrooms should seriously consider allowing young people access to the boardroom, that every CEO should sit down weekly with young colleagues to have an open discussions about the company and its strategy. This would both develop the young employees as well as inspire and maybe speed up the companies ambitions for a more sustainable company and world.

Listening to Veltenaar, I could not help but recognize the seemingly big gap there is between the existing offshore energy market and the challenges and technological innovations in the future story of Ruud Veltenaar. When I look at the renewable and climate change response from our industry I see companies making good money with existing solutions, used for renewable wind energy and thoughts about re-using offshore platforms or storing CO2.

Then I wonder if it is enough. Does the industry have enough mindset for change, do we focus enough on the technological solutions for renewable energy that can really make a difference in the world and lead to the halt in climate change?

As the chairman of Young IRO, I believe it is crucial to encourage a two-way dialogue between the generations and that given the right attitudes, senior and junior leaders can bridge the cultural gap between them.

As the millennials will define most of the global workforce in the coming decade, Young IRO believes that the future leaders can be inspired by facilitating continuous learning, development & knowledge exchange through business friendships between industry professionals of all generations. Young IRO will continue to do so.

I think that the offshore energy industry all over the world is organized around high oil prices, margins and talk about the inevitable return of higher margins. But does the industry then realize that change is coming and are we flexible enough to stimulate the move from fossil to renewable?

With oil companies investing more into renewable energy, I feel confident the next few decades will prove very interesting for any young ambitious and creative person. There most likely will be enough stable turnover to facilitate the growth in the new energy mix. The new generation will inherit an industry that might be slowing down on fossil, but is leading specialist in making a renewable change. As long as we focus on the new and don’t fight about the old.

As the young generation is brought up with topics of innovation, globalization and climate change the question for them is not if, but how will we contribute to the changes to come and how will our work add to a better and more sustainable world.

Therefore, the topics of storing CO2 and the feasibility of wind energy feels somewhat behind us. Our generation needs to make it happen while learning from the established colleagues and looking for the next topic to change the existing global industry.

My goal with Young IRO is to take action. Look beyond company structures, with an open mind collectively. Stop using old solutions for new problems, but find new creative solutions and just go for it.

Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the view of Offshore Energy Today. No member of the editorial team took part in the creation of this article.

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