ENB #185 Navigating Industry Narratives and Cultivating the Next Generation Energy Workforce

Source: ENB

While we are being told what to believe and ignore the science, it has caused huge problems for the next generations of workers in the energy markets. Getting the story about cultural changes in jobs and corporations is critical.

Molly Determan, President of the Energy Workforce &Technology Council, stopped by, and we had a great discussion about the Council’s efforts to help attract the next generation into the energy markets.

It was fantastic to even talk about her trip to the Middle East and overcoming stereotypes.

Thank you, Molly, for stopping by the podcast and letting us know about the critical work going on for the next generations of workers in energy! – Stu

Connect with Molly on her LinkedIn HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mollymdeterman/

Connect with Energy Workforce & Technology Council HERE: https://www.linkedin.com/company/energyworkforce/

Highlights of the Podcast

01:30 – Discussion on the importance of linemen and the workforce in the energy transition.

03:40 – Addressing challenges in attracting the younger generation to the energy industry.

06:02 – Discussing stereotypes about millennials and the changing workforce.

08:11 – Conversation on the need for alternative ways to communicate the industry’s message and build trust.

09:24 – The role of humor and alternative media platforms in reaching audiences.

10:46 – Emphasizing the need for a diverse energy mix and dispelling misconceptions about the industry’s values.

14:15 – Exploring innovative approaches, such as hiring field workers as gig workers.

15:15 – The importance of educating both internal and external audiences about the industry.

18:20 – Molly shares examples of field leadership training impacting cultural change within organizations.

22:44 – Molly discusses the focus of the Council on changing the industry narrative and workforce advocacy.

24:41 – Molly provides information on how to connect with the Energy Workforce Technology Council.


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Molly Determan Conversations in Energy – Final Cut.mp4

Stuart Turley [00:00:07] Hello, buddy. Welcome to the Energy News Beat podcast. My name’s Stuart Turley, president CEO of the sandstone Group. In the energy space, there are some very critical things going on. More importantly, what are we going to do with the next generation of the workforce? How is even the energy transition going to happen if nobody is actually there? Do you think that we actually have energy where you plug it into the wall and it happens without a lineman? If you’re warm today, hugging linemen, if you’re warm tomorrow, hugging oil guy, if you’re really going to work on it, hug somebody from the nuclear industry. I’ve got an action packed discussion today. I’ve got Molly Determan and I she is with she’s the president at the Energy Workforce Technology Council. Welcome. And thank you so much for stopping by.

Molly Determan [00:01:03] Yeah thanks so much for having me I’m excited to be here.

Stuart Turley [00:01:07] I tell you you know I butcher everybody’s name. So I hope that I just ruined your day.

Molly Determan [00:01:12] You got it.

Stuart Turley [00:01:13] Oh, wow. I’m going to pat and break my arm. Pat myself on the back. Yeah. Everybody takes for granted. Just plugging your plug in the wall, you know? And and it sounds like it doesn’t work. It’s like, all of a sudden now it’s a crisis.

Molly Determan [00:01:30] Right? Right. Well, there there’s definitely a misunderstanding of where energy comes from and what the energy mix looks like. I think currently and in the future. And so, yeah, we’ve all got our hands full, trying to, you know, do a better job of educating people about what the energy industry is.

Stuart Turley [00:01:56] Right? So, with the council, you also had some great you have some great overseas, folks and everything else. Tell us what your main goal is, trying to help get the next generation in here and tell us what’s on your plate right now.

Molly Determan [00:02:13] Yeah. So with a, national association representing energy services and equipment companies. So, like, our members would be like, SLB, Baker Hughes, Halliburton. It goes. And then it goes, like all the way down the supply chain. And so our companies are the ones that are actually, like out there and working in the field and producing the equipment and also providing the services. And so, you know, I feel like what our job is and that we are doing on behalf of our member companies and with our member companies is. A couple of things is sharing best practices amongst the member companies about how we can make our companies, a great place to work so that when we get people in to our industry, it’s a place that they really want to stay, right? But then also talking about like, how will we get those people in? And these are competitors that come together and are talking about this, but everybody recognizes that, like, we have a bigger job than our individual companies. Like this is an industry wide challenge that we are better off when we’re working together. And so that’s one of the things that I’m really impressed by is like how these competitors come together and are willing to share, in order to make everybody else better.

Stuart Turley [00:03:40] Isn’t that great? Now there are some really big challenges. And, you know, Michael Tanner is my, partner in crime and, podcast. He’s a young millennial. How do we get past that millennial stereotype? Because there’s so many that are great, great workers but that don’t sit in their parents basement.

Molly Determan [00:04:04] It’s true. And technically, I am the first year of millennials. It’s.

Stuart Turley [00:04:12] Wow.

Molly Determan [00:04:13] Right here too. But, you know, and there’s also like, I think it’s like 17 million, Gen Z workers that have already entered the workforce, too.

Stuart Turley [00:04:24] Right.

Molly Determan [00:04:25] We’re talking about multiple generations that are really driven by the why behind their work. And it’s not just about the paycheck. And I would say even more so with Gen Z, we’re seeing that they are willing to take a lower, salary to do, like what fits their lifestyle. And so that can be like and that is especially challenging for energy services companies when we’re talking about, like, you’re out in the field and you’re working these shifts and you might be on for a couple of weeks at a time. And so, like there’s that aspect of like the actual like hours of the job and that type of thing. But then there’s like the, the values alignment. And so when there’s a misperception about our industry as there is, that’s a hurdle that we have to overcome because we know that. This is a great place to work if you want to be part of a lower carbon future. This is the industry to be a part of that you can be part of solving complex challenges, but we have to communicate that that the values align. And I think that they are shocked to learn that the oil and gas industry values align with their values when it comes to sustainability, or even like the cultural things. But we do align, but we have to communicate that. So it’s like this big communications barrier that we have to work on.

Stuart Turley [00:06:02] Boy, you just opened up Molly. You just open up a bunch of squirrels. I mean, you left. You just walked over. Open up that cage. Because all of a sudden we find out that we have to have oil and gas. And over in Dubai and Cop 28, they said, you know, here’s, Cop 28. I mean, I’m bringing up some really ugly points here. But when you know, you have Kyrie over there, he flies over on his personal jet. And then you have the head of the EPA, the UAE and Cop 28 is an oil guy. And I mean, it was you can’t buy this kind of entertainment when they say, oh, we’re going to need oil and gas in order to, make an energy transition when we can. Right now. I’m sorry. I’m, I love being a Texan because, oil and gas folks love the environment. You can love the environment. Absolutely. In oil and gas and know that you have, Schlumberger you have all of the great folks that are doing oilfield service are some of the best ecological ESG folks on the planet. And I’m sorry for saying that, but they are.

Molly Determan [00:07:26] No, it’s true. And that’s and that’s where I think that, we’re having to work, in a different way than we have before in communicating, because for a long time the industry was like, we know that about ourselves. We know that we want things to continue to be better. We want to continue to do things, better. And so we just were like, well, we’ll just put our heads down and the work will prove itself. And so but and then that way then we let other people own the narrative. Right? And so now we’re having to come back and we’re still like, we have some really great people that are out and speaking externally on behalf of the industry. Right. We need more people doing that.

Stuart Turley [00:08:12] Do you think the you know what I’m finding in this, Molly, this sounds kind of weird, but, I think the only reason, that besides being a game show host, you know, in my life. Right, is that people like humor, but they’re also tired of the mainstream media. And before you and I were chit chatting about, the mainstream media. And you have a degree in journalism, I believe. Yeah. It’s kind of sad that we have to step away in that, organizations and podcast. You’ve been on a bunch of podcasts and in interviews you have to spread the word out manually. Almost, if you would.

Molly Determan [00:08:50] It’s true. And I think that there’s a lot of distrust of mainstream media as well. And so people are going to podcasts like yours because it’s a longer form narrative, and we can make up our own minds if we agree with the, you know, guest or the host, like everybody, like we’re critical thinkers, like we’re not saying that, you know, we’re going to listen to the podcast and we’re going to agree with everything they’re saying. But I think that people people appreciate this format because you can get more. You feel like you get more of the story.

Stuart Turley [00:09:24] Right. And it’s not just, you know, I believe that we need to deliver the lowest kilowatt per hour to everyone on the planet to eliminate energy poverty by delivering the lowest kilowatt per hour with the least amount of impact on the environment. And sustainable and sustainable means you cannot print money. Well, I love wind, I love solar, I got it on my houses. I love it, but you know what? It cannot function every day. It does not meet the needs of societal low cost energy because you have to print money.

Molly Determan [00:10:03] Right. And I don’t think that there’s a great understanding of that, of how an energy mix, has that’s, you know, good and reliable, has a variety of sources. And that to your point earlier that the renewable supply chain relies on billions, in order to provide that. So it’s all like. All forms of energy. More of all forms of energy is what’s needed. oh. But you like. I think that people are surprised when they hear an oil and gas representative saying that they’re like. Oh, you want more of renewables? Absolutely. Absolutely, I want more. I want more access to all of the forms of energy.

Stuart Turley [00:10:48] You know, Chris, right over there at Liberty Frack and Liberty energy is. He’s one of my heroes. And I. Yeah. Next time I see him, I give him a hug. But, you know, he, he he he is who? Years ago, I saw him speak, and I got to meet him. And he has the humanity first methodology of energy. And they do their oil field service work. He electrified, his, frack fleet and, and is looking at nuclear and he signs and, oil and gas, executives for nuclear that is headed up by, Sandridge. And I love that aspect of an oil and gas service company touting nuclear as well as electrification and getting rid of the carbon footprint. I’m like, wow.

Molly Determan [00:11:51] That’s right. That’s exactly where I feel like most of our member companies are at as well. They’re also Liberty’s also involved in geothermal too.

Stuart Turley [00:11:59] That great.

Molly Determan [00:12:00] Right. And a lot of the drillers have gotten involved in geothermal as well. Like, if you can drill a hole in the ground to get oil and gas.

Stuart Turley [00:12:09] And I want. We we need. I got a new member for you. And that is the uranium group. I’ll go get. I just interviewed them, and they’re also drilling. If you can drill a hole, they’re getting uranium mining out of it.

Molly Determan [00:12:24] That’s my out. I mean, that’s the thing. And that’s what’s one of the things that’s so cool about this sector is that our technologies apply across energies. And, you know, the companies are looking and seeing like, what did they do specifically? What does it like, where is it best applied across different forms of energy. And then like can make their company money. And then that is where they will get invested. And that’s what will also provide long term involvement in that as well. Like the companies are not like yes, they’re not not for profits. And so we have to work. We have to find ways to like make it make sense to the technology that we’re already providing.

Stuart Turley [00:13:07] You know, some of the things that are just amazing is that as, I saw this tick tock, I don’t do tick tock. Somebody had to forward it to me. I can’t even spell TikTok and and I can’t even spell I, you know, I don’t I don’t know, but we sit back and this girl was crying in the car and she said, my husband, it is a trade. He went to trade school and not college, and he’s got a trade school, and he’s made more in the first four months than I did with my masters. There’s a lot to be said for having a trade, skill. And I love all the guys that are out on the field and and everything else. And where I’m going with this is that. So we’re installers are having some serious problems. They’re going bankrupt right now. If you want a job, go look at energy jobs and not think it has to be solar. It has to be wind. Open the eyes up. And I think I just did a commercial for you.

Molly Determan [00:14:15] And you did. Thank you. I appreciate that. But, you know, not only are we having to like, educate people that are outside of our industry, we’re have we are working on educating the people that are within our industry as well, like the people that work at our member companies, don’t necessarily, know the full picture, like they’re, you know, they came in because they needed they need money and they need a job. And they came in and they’re working and they’re like, you know, doing their very specific piece of their job, and they’re not aware of the full breadth of like what, what the oil and gas industry is about. And then they feel like they have to apologize to their friends for working in the oil and gas industry, you know, and we don’t want we don’t want that like and so we have an education job not only to do with people outside the industry, but within our industry as well, so that then they can become advocates for our industry.

Stuart Turley [00:15:15] In that call. And, and the oil and gas space Molly had, the that space has not done a great job in the past bragging about the goodness. I mean, like, Chris Wright, who we’ve just mentioned, and Alex Epstein, who I’ve also, interviewed, who, their humanity, oil and gas has elevated more people out of poverty than anything else. I mean, coal, but we’re trying to get away from coal. So.

Molly Determan [00:15:47] Yeah. Yeah. And I think the thing that really resonates about, Chris’s message is he has numbers and like, everything to to back up what he’s saying. I think that that has, and they also do a really good job of like reaching out in different ways than what we traditionally have. And so, like, you know, they’re on TikTok, shell has a program where they’re reaching out to people on Fortnite like.

Stuart Turley [00:16:20] Wow.

Molly Determan [00:16:22] Right. And so like, it’s those types of like out of the box, like reaching out to people that, like, really has a better chance of making an impact and getting through it. And I think that the companies that do that are going to see a lot of success. And so the companies that are not doing that currently, I think will like go in that direction because they’re going to we’re going to have to operate differently than we have in the past in order to reach people. If we if we want to bring in the new generations of talent like that’s it requires out of the box thinking. One of the things, that one of our member companies talked about at our People and Culture Committee, I. Four months ago is. We were talking about, you know, field workers and how we bring people in to the industry. And they said that they are, one of the member companies said that they are piloting, field workers, hiring them as gig workers. So I think about like, Uber drivers.

Stuart Turley [00:17:32] Right.

Molly Determan [00:17:33] As long as they have technical competencies that they can pass, that they, they can come in and out and work as they want to. And I thought, how how would this work? Like, I don’t how need consistency, but they have been able to find enough people that want to do that in the region where they’ve been testing it, that it’s been working. They said the only downside that they’ve seen so far is there’s been some additional administrative costs that they didn’t project, but that is not the issue has not been that it’s like not working, like it’s been working. And so the other member companies are like, oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Like tell me more. And and they’ve been willing to share. And so some of the other companies have been taking that back and looking at like trying it.

Stuart Turley [00:18:20] With this also apply to an offshore hand. So I want to go get a tan and I just sign up for a weekend, you know, going to an offshore.

Molly Determan [00:18:28] Rig and read. I mean I’m sure like offshore, there’s a certain amount of time that you would have to like, commit to in order to, like, make it worthwhile to get you out.

Stuart Turley [00:18:36] I’m going to go out for the day. No, that ain’t gonna work.

Molly Determan [00:18:40] Yeah, right. So that way. But like, yeah, yeah, yeah. So and anyways ever I just think like that like out of the box thinking is what’s exciting and like that our member companies are willing to try it. Last year also I guess this was the year before, our member companies came to us and they were like, we have like, y’all do these leadership programs, and you do them for management and, you know, all of that. But like, where we really need it is in the field. And so we were like, okay, all right, we’re going to figure this out. And so we started it. And it has been like people are thirsty, to send their field workers through the leadership training. And that I feel like is, is going to really help make cultural change. Because when we have initiatives like Dei initiatives and we’re talking about like, what are the barriers to carrying them out within the organizations, it is getting deeper within the organizations.

Stuart Turley [00:19:49] Right.

Molly Determan [00:19:50] And so the the leadership trainings are doing that. We had, I think it was one of our first ones, one of our our first field leadership trainings, where, was talking to one of the the guys kind of over lunch, and he said he realized that he had hazed people on his team.

Stuart Turley [00:20:14] He had what?

Molly Determan [00:20:15] He had hazed people.

Stuart Turley [00:20:17] Oh, no way.

Molly Determan [00:20:18] On his team. And he said he did it because he had been hazed. And so and this is for like a large public company that had definitively has policies against this.

Stuart Turley [00:20:31] I’m sorry. The new guys open season, I don’t care. I mean, if you’re a new guy and you want to come in and be stupid, you’re open season for being.

Molly Determan [00:20:41] Stupid, sure. But this is just like this was their this was his way of like bringing anybody on and like teaching them with. And so he was like and he’s like, and I realize like, I don’t have to do that. Like he’s like it doesn’t like he’s like, I didn’t realize I was doing it, but now I know I’m doing it. And it didn’t sit well with me. And he’s like, and I like I now I understand that I can lead in a different way. And like, that is how we’re going to help change or the organizations that want, want to make that cultural change like that is, I love seeing their.

Stuart Turley [00:21:20] I do too, but you can’t buy good stew. Have you seen those on LinkedIn or any of the others where you see that guy in the construction outfit and there something stupid going on and he’s like, and then it goes to another one and there’s some, Ed Davidson, you know, the best ones out there that is absolutely pointing out all the really stupid things that can go wrong with, job sites.

Molly Determan [00:21:44] Right. Well, and you don’t like everybody wants to go home safe. Everybody like. And you don’t. You don’t want. For people to feel unsafe or do stupid things on the job, right? But I think that. And that’s where, like, our agency and people and culture committees have come together and I would say also on our board and advisory board, like it’s I feel like everybody within all the organizations are talking about like, how do we blend all of this, like the changes that we’re trying to make culturally with maintaining, you know, a safe environment. And so. I think that I think that they’re figuring out ways to do that.

Stuart Turley [00:22:23] Oh, cool. I’ll tell you. I just I appreciate the leadership in our, great energy companies, in the United States. And, Molly, I’ll tell you what, you got your work cut out for you. What’s coming around the corner next for you? And, what’s coming around next for the corner for the, committee?

Molly Determan [00:22:46] Yeah. You know, I think that, we’ve really been focused on, you know, changing the narrative around the oil and gas industry, and aligning, like, what our message is. And so I think we’ve we’ve really kind of honed in on what that is and are now taking that forward. And so, like, as I mentioned earlier, like, helping our workforce to become ambassadors for the industry and giving them actual tools. And then, yeah. And then also continuing to message that externally.

Stuart Turley [00:23:27] Who would be the next victims? Excuse me? I mean, people that you would want to either. Sorry. Folks. Victims if you would that are you’re trying to reach are you trying to reach also the Schlumberger of the world, or are you trying to also get to work? Or who is your reach trying to get to?

Molly Determan [00:23:50] So we have, access to companies like, SLB and all those. Like there’s our our member companies are on our board and those are the ones that are leading the direction of this association. And they are the ones that are kind of telling us like, what what they want is focused on, and so yeah, and so we go from there and then they’re the ones that are coming together and are sharing best practices.

Stuart Turley [00:24:16] Well, I’ll tell you, I enjoy talking to everyone. So if you ever need to get a story out with any of them, I would love to do that and interview both of you as well too. Okay. Molly and, your website, for the, Energy Workforce and Technology Council, I will, it’s I’ll have it in the show notes as well, but what is it?

Molly Determan [00:24:41] Just on an energy workforce network.

Stuart Turley [00:24:44] Okay. Oh, hey, that was easy. Even I could do that one. And, you’re you’re on LinkedIn. Molly, and I will have that in the show notes as well, too. Is there any other way folks can follow you or reach out to you?

Molly Determan [00:24:58] Yeah. I mean, reach out on LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our emails. We don’t bombard people. But we do talk about, like, what’s going on in our sector and also, like policy insights and how, there’s, you know, what’s going on in the sector and how policies are impacting that and what we’re what we’re doing about that.

Stuart Turley [00:25:20] So that sounds fantastic. And and enjoy your, Mardi Gras, outfit vacation, I believe, is what you’re getting ready to go on.

Molly Determan [00:25:30] Yes. In mobile. So. Alabama. So I’ll be back.

Stuart Turley [00:25:34] All right. Sounds great. Thanks.

Molly Determan [00:25:36] All right. Thank you. Steve.

About Stu Turley 3038 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor.   He is also the Executive Publisher of www.energynewsbeat.com, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage, and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Energy should be used to elevate humanity out of poverty. Let's use all forms of energy with the least impact on the environment while being sustainable without printing money. Stu is also a co-host on the 3 Podcasters Walk into A Bar podcast with David Blackmon, and Rey Trevino. Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.