HR Discussion

What Will Your Job Look Like in the Future? Three Bold Predictions

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A new wave of technologies is changing every aspect of human life–from online shopping and scheduling a ride with Uber to completing wells and managing reservoirs. The stuff of science fiction is becoming science fact. The HR Discussion team, via this article, aims to inform young professionals (YPs) about three trends that will change the way we will work in the future. These three trends are introduced in the form of three key questions for YPs.

Question # 1: How Will You Feel if a “Well” Rated “You” Only 2 Out of 5 Stars?

Everything– and everyone–will be measured, recorded, analyzed, and rated.

Uber, Amazon, and AirBnB allow everyone to rate everyone. The five star rating system is here to stay: We are looking at a future where all interactions will be rated. This includes not only people rating people or people rating objects but also objects (wells, reservoirs, tools) rating people too.

Imagine you are a directional drilling engineer tasked with building a certain angle to hit the target reservoir. Certainly, customers will continue to rate service providers on how well they do their job, but you will begin to receive ever more comprehensive feedback in the future. Not only will your customer rate you, but the rig, the measurement-while-drilling tool, the bottomhole assembly, and the drillbit will rate you too. With the Internet of Things growing in prevalence, algorithms will be built into the system to rate users based on a set of criteria, such as whether or not the user operated the equipment within a set of acceptable parameters, whether or not proper maintenance was performed before and after the equipment was operated, etc.

Work environments will also be subject to ratings. YPs will be able to rate their bosses; service providers will be able to rate customers. Ratings will not be a one-time affair, such as end of year performance reviews, but will be done on a continuous basis. Every engagement, activity, report, interaction, conversation, and meeting will be rated by all involved parties. Video analytics will analyze body language and generate insights on the people’s emotions as they complete different tasks and meet different people.

All this will leave a trail of data to be automatically analyzed by machine learning algorithms that will be able to identify strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, social networks, skills etc. How might the results of this analysis be used? To assign team members to projects? To decide promotions? To select employees for additional training designed to shore up weak points or hone strengths?

Question # 2: Are You Ready To Become a Supreme Court Judge?

The ability to critically evaluate recommendations from artificial intelligence (AI) systems will become a key differentiator.

AI systems will be integrated with our work systems. Most of the routine work we do today will be done by computers. Computers will begin to influence our operations as they perform all of the calculations and ask for our permission to execute the decisions they reach based on said calculations. Being able to give a yes or no answer to a digital decision will require judgement skills. Should you accept the AI engine’s recommendations or should you reject them? How do you reach your decision?

Let’s say you are performing a reservoir simulation study to maximize the estimated ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons from your reserves. The computer will take all available data and an AI engine recommends you proceed with enhanced oil recovery by surfactant flooding. It also specifies how much surfactant to use, at what rate to inject, how much of it to procure, and from which vendors. You are asked to accept or reject the plan. What do you do? What data do you need to evaluate the validity of the recommendations? Do you trust the AI engine's recommendations or is there reason to doubt them? If you reject them, which parts of it do you reject? Most importantly, can you defend why you’re rejecting them?

We have not been trained to think this way, but must learn to do so in the future. Are you ready to become a judge? Do you know what evidence to ask for to make better judgements? Do you understand how the AI engine arrived at its decisions? Were ethics and moral values considered in its recommendation? Or is it up to you to provide the “human factor”?

Question # 3: Can You Solve a Problem When You Don’t Know the Question?

Unstructured problem solving and creativity will emerge as critical skills for YPs.

Structured problem solving is easy. By 2020 computers will be able to solve such problems faster and more accurately than humans. How will YPs add value? The answer: By mastering the art of unstructured problem solving.

Unstructured problems are challenges where outcomes are not easily quantifiable. These include challenges where the question itself is not clear. YPs will have to understand what people are really asking for by probing deeper and converting feelings into well-defined problems.

Let’s say a production engineer calls you and says she needs your help. You ask for the specifics: Do you need to increase production from your well? If yes, by how much and how fast? What is the budget? She says she doesn’t know exactly what she needs. In fact she needs your help to figure out what she wants. Will you get frustrated? Will you have the patience to figure out what she is feeling and going through? You might need to put yourself in her shoes and do some design-thinking to figure out exactly what she is feeling, seeing, and communicating. You will have to figure out the context, read the history, define the problem, and evaluate several alternatives. You can be creative and give her an out-of-the-box solution that may not be technical in nature at all.

The ability to structure and define a problem and propose innovative or creative solutions is going to become a key skill in the future. We will be able to add value through our ability to understand humans in the way only humans can. For everything else there will be computers.


We live in exciting times. Change is so rapid and pervasive that it will not be easy to keep pace with everything. However, YPs can be strategic and develop the skill set of the future. Learning human-centric design thinking and how to conduct ethnographic interviews, doing blue-sky thinking, and developing other such skills will help us adapt and succeed in the oil and gas industry of the future.









James Blaney is based in the Permian Basin, working as an engineer on a hydraulic fracturing fleet for Liberty Oilfield Services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

Samuel Ighalo is the technical advisor, global well engineering solutions at Halliburton. He is responsible for providing well engineering support to oil and gas operations across multiple regions including North America, Europe, North Africa, Middle East, and Latin America. He previously worked as a drilling engineer for Korea National Oil Corporation. Ighalo holds master’s degrees in petroleum engineering (Smart Oilfield Technology Option) from the University of Southern California and petroleum engineering and project development from the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IFP France and University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria).

Originally from India, Jaspreet Singh Sachdeva is a PhD candidate at the University of Stavanger in Norway. He is working with rock-fluid interactions and reservoir geomechanics at the National IOR Centre of Norway. He holds a master’s degree in reservoir engineering from University of Stavanger. Before that, he worked as a reservoir engineer in Jindal Petroleum for 4 years after completing his bachelor’s degree in applied petroleum engineering from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, India.

Asif Zafar is a strategy consultant with Accenture and is based in Mumbai. In his current role he re-imagines the future at the intersection of business and technology. Before Accenture, he worked for 5 years at Halliburton designing drillbits for oil and gas companies in South Asia. Zafar holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines).






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