I’ve been in Land Administration for the past 15 years, and I feel fairly confident that anyone who’s been in the trenches with me throughout that time would likely agree that we’ve become very adaptable to change. Variety has been my constant in an evolving industry, and while it was tough to cope with right from the start, I’m pleased to say I walked away with numerous lessons that have supported me through my transition to a Senior Product Manager at a SaaS software company.
Whether you’re just kicking off your career in oil and gas or you’re transitioning to a new department, I’ve found that there are a few moves you should take to make the most of your time in the industry. Here are four tips on how not to lose in land management.
It’s no secret that the oil and gas industry is volatile. Numerous technological advancements and a constantly changing work environment means that energy companies and professionals must be flexible enough to adapt to frequent changes, or risk getting left behind.
Take technology, for example. At this stage in the digital transformation, most energy companies are beginning to utilize the revolutionary technologies that are available to them, and they’re reaping the rewards too. They’re working more efficiently, dodging risks, and improving their bottom line. Companies still manually processing things like data entry and analysis are simply wasting time and resources.
Flexibility is not only key for energy companies, but also for professionals who are looking to get ahead. When I started out as an analyst, I had my mind set on becoming a landman. Thankfully, I had great mentors who helped me realize that I should take advantage of opportunities as they arise, even if they’re not exactly what I’d envisioned for myself. That guidance led me to different roles that ultimately allowed me to make a greater impact over the course of my career.
Takeaway: Be open to new things, whether it be a new software for your current role, or an opportunity that randomly presents itself.
2. Consider the alternative to traditional processes
Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time, doesn’t mean it’s the only way or best way to accomplish a task. Of course, this doesn’t mean that traditional processes are wrong, I’m simply advocating for enough open-mindedness to recognize alternate routes.
Working in Land Administration, I realized that people tended to describe what they wanted systems to be or to do rather than what they wanted the end result to be. This is the same thinking pattern that occurs when we get too comfortable with current processes and forget to think outside the box.
I’m no stranger to this quandary myself. For example, one time while working as a lead in lease records, my team was assigned a new project. When we received the task I immediately saw the process laid out in front of me and the steps my team needed to take to accomplish it. I was confident in my approach, but I took the time to confer with my team and we ended up brainstorming an alternative, better methodology. Although my initial approach would have worked, the process that my team developed accomplished our desired results faster than anticipated and covered more ground with greater efficiency!
Takeaway: Acknowledge traditional processes, but never ignore the chance to enhance the tried-and-true.
3. Don’t skip basic training
To build a sound house, you must first establish a solid foundation to build upon. This applies to more than just architecture; to effectively understand any process, you must break it down to its bare bones and get familiar with the nitty gritty of how it works. This may sound counterintuitive to what we normally hear about digital transformation but think of it as taking inventory of the tools that have historically been at the industry’s disposal.
When I was just beginning my career as an analyst, I was tasked with determining which direction a pipeline was flowing. At the time, there actually was software available to calculate this for me, but one of my mentors taught me to actively work to develop a deeper understanding of fundamental processes. With his guidance, I grabbed a ruler and some colored pencils, and as opposed to applying our more than capable software, I produced a hand drawn map of the pipeline. Once I was done, I prepared the same map using the software system (which of course was 100 times faster than the manual process) and was very excited to see how close of a replica my hand drawn map was to the system-generated version. This process helped me understand the intricacies of pipeline flows and gave me an appreciation for all the manual efforts that are now completed by software systems.
Takeaway: Get a grasp on the basics before you explore a disruptive idea.
4. Don’t stick with the status quo.
It’s so easy to get into a rhythm when it comes to your daily routine. Have you ever taken a long vacation and come back to work with new, innovative ideas to solve the old problems? If so, you may have experienced the benefits of detachment or taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. This renewed perspective generally leads to more innovative and applicable ideas.
Now, I don’t want to pretend like the secret to success is always thinking big and boasting crazy ideas. There is a happy medium when it comes to identifying the small but important details while considering how they affect the larger picture. When you’re able to find that balance, you will become invaluable.
Once, during my time with a multinational petroleum company, my team was tasked with a rather large project that included a quick deadline. I knew there must be a better way to accomplish our desired results rather than using the traditional process that always involved several rounds of data reconciliation and cleanup efforts. I collaborated with our internal team and even a few external resources to brainstorm a plan that would, in time, create efficiencies. I communicated this idea to leadership who ultimately denied my plan due to time limitations. Because I took the time to share my big ideas, my leader was able to break it down and use parts of my plan to hugely impact the success of the project. She told me to “dream big and not give up on those dreams.” Now, as a Senior Product Manager for a company that is revolutionizing oil and gas, I am following that advice and using those very same big ideas that I never gave up on.
Takeaway: Think outside the box but live within the framework… And take a vacation every now and then.
Some people learn from their mistakes, but one of my best pieces of advice is to learn from others’ mistakes. No doubt you will make your own missteps as you progress in your career, but as you do, remember the lessons I learned during my time in Land Administration. And while I had these experiences throughout a career focused in Land Administration, these takeaways transcend departments and even industries.
Now that you know how not to lose in land management, get ready for our next post in the series that will show you how to overcome challenges with data reconciliation and ensure accurate data to inform future business decisions. In other words, how to win.