Advice – Downturn in the Oil & Gas Industry

I’ve been working in the Oil and Gas industry for a while as a cost engineer but I’m concerned about the downturn in the industry. Any advice on how to make a move away from this industry?”

Roles like cost engineer – project controls, schedulers, planners – are almost always found in industries that I like to call “heavy project management” or highly regulated industries like construction, engineering, manufacturing and of course oil and gas. Your existing experience should suit these industries perfectly already so that should be the first area for you to research. You may also find that the terminology for roles within these industries varies slightly so make sure you understand that before tweaking your resume and making approaches or applications to those organisations.

You may find it more difficult to branch further out into industries such as I.T or finance. These sectors are often worlds apart from the more regulated industries when it comes to how projects are managed. Of course that depends on how determined you might be to try a completely different industry but be warned, many organisations won’t consider you if they already have enough applicants with more direct prior experience.

This short advice piece is taken from my latest column for PMI’s PM Network magazine – available to members. Find out more. Got a question? Submit a question here



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  1. Hi Lyndsey,
    As I too am a cost engineer/project controls professional who has successfully bridged oil, gas, mining, IT, telecommunications, government as well as International Development project and program management, let me add a couple of thoughts and observations:
    1) As the oil and gas sector has a tendency to be far more advanced than IT and government sectors are, it will be less difficult for a “cost engineer” or “project control” professional to transition from oil, gas or mining to other sectors than the other way around. You will find you are WAY more sophisticated than your IT or government counterparts in the INTEGRATION of asset, portfolio, program (operations) and project management.

    2) PMI’s PMBOK Guide 2016 is being modeled after an ASSET centric methodology developed by either Esso or Diamond Shamrock oil back in the 1950’s and attesting to the fact it has withstood the test of time and actually WORKS, this approach is still in use by all the major International and most National Oil companies today. This methodology was first published publicly by John Hollman, from AACE in their “Total Cost Management Framework” (available for $50) and has further been developed and documented by the Guild of Project Controls in their Guild of Project Controls Compendium and Reference, specificially, Module 1- (which is available free of charge but does require signing in, which is also free) Explained anotehr way, what this means is both PMI and to a lesser degree, PRINCE2, are both at least 10 years behind the learning curve on this.

    3) For those who are coming from oil, gas and mining, and are familiar with the Asset Management model, there are a TON of jobs open for people with our skills, especially in the Rail and other Transportation Sectors. The only difference is you need to revise and update your CV’s to reflect the terminology they are using. (Same shit, different packaging)

    4) Keep in mind that for every PROJECT MANAGER position there are anywhere between 5 and 40 project CONTROLS/COST ENGINEERS positions open as they provide support not only to project managers but the far more important Asset (portfolio) and Program (Operations) managers. Other “job titles” which require the the same or similar skill sets are “Business Analysts”, “Systems Engineers”, “Quantity Surveyors”, “Project Management Offices” (PMO) and “Project Support Services”.

    5) For those interested in seeing all the different project controls job titles along with the various roles and responsibilities and the associated COMPETENCY based credentials available to you, go HERE and see what the Guild of Project Controls is offering.

    6) For the past 3 months, I have been publishing a series of papers profiling these job titles based on JOB ADVERTISEMENTS/Help Wanted Ads in the PMWorld Journal. Here is the latest one and another one should be published within the next few days…. This may help those of you looking for work to refine/update your CV’s as you transition out of oil and gas (a very prudent move as oil is likely to remain stuck between $40 and $50/barrel for at least another 2 years, barring a war or other globally traumatic event which disrupts production or dramatically increases demand.

    7) On the DOWN side, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is having a PROFOUND impact on “project controls” and “cost engineering” and right now, we are uncertain what role those of us with those skill sets are going to be playing as BIM proliferates.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

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