UH Energy hosted a student-focused webinar on the current outlook for the energy industry and provided tips for students who want to enter the industry. The webinar, "Future Energy Outlook and Desired Workforce Skillsets for Students," was livestreamed and included energy experts who provided advice and answered questions.
The panel included Scott Nyquist, director and senior partner at McKinsey & Company; Bill Maloney, director of Trident Energy and energy advisor for Warburg Pincus; and Cindy Yeilding, senior vice president at BP.
The panel, with decades of collective experience under their belts, spoke about how they entered the field and the current industry outlook amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
"We are optimistic that once we get the global economy running again, energy demand will come back,” said Nyquist. “We will still have to deal with the enormous challenges of the energy transition, but we’re going to need oil and gas to provide the needs of transportation around the world. Power will continue to grow in demand, with wind and solar energy playing a key role.”
Nyquist also said the industry reacted quickly and robustly to the crisis, implementing procedures that kept employees safe as essential workers. Office staff were allowed to work from home when possible, and all workers followed social distancing measures recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Many companies are starting to think more about the long-term and how they can continue to provide energy after this horrible virus is over,” said Nyquist.
The news from the energy industry may be dire, with mass layoffs, but according to Yielding, students entering the industry shouldn’t despair. It can be a time for students to figure out what they really want and how to reach that goal, she said.
“We have had crazy times in the past, and we do get through them. There will be opportunities soon,” said Yeilding. “This is a good time to focus on what you really want to do by researching through podcasts, webcasts and other resources. The energy transition opportunities that we’re all engaged on will need to be embraced. This industry has never been stagnant.”
Yeilding says students need to keep up to date on the latest news and trends to make the best decision about their careers.
"There’s a lot to be gained by brushing up on your economic skills, for example, along with reading up on energy outlooks,” she said. “They will give you lots of ideas about the factors going into future energy growth and demand.”
Maloney and Nyquist agreed with Yeilding’s assessment, citing previous times when oil prices stagnated, and highlighting how that resulted in revitalization. That is likely to happen this time, too, they said.
"We will recover. There has not been an oil price shock that we have seen that has not led to a recovery,” said Maloney. “Oil price is a symptom of supply and demand, and one way or another it does rebalance. Prices will stabilize.”