Switching from a major oil/gas shop to a small consulting firm
August 5, 2012 6:00 PM   Subscribe

A 20-something petroleum engineer friend of mine is thinking about switching from a major oil/gas company to a small-ish consulting firm in NYC named GlobalData. He's looking for some general advice.

At the current oil/gas company, he is on a fast-track to a management position, makes great money, is well-respected, but doesn't necessarily love what he does. GlobalData sounds challenging, interesting, and new, but it would mean giving up a lot with a Fortune 500.

1: Is this a crazy move to even consider? I know this a super broad question, but feel free to throw in your two-cents.

2: Does anyone have any information on GlobalData's general reputation in the marketplace. Any information at all would be helpful (including references to other sources where he could find more third-party information about GlobalData).

3: Setting GlobalData aside, are there other consulting firms to look into, for petroleum engineers?

Temporary e-mail account: anonoilgas@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If the consulting firm really is small-ish, I imagine they don't have a ton of applicants from large major oil/gas companies. You may want a mod's help in better anonymizing the question, or changing the form of the question entirely if you still want specific info about the consulting firm.
posted by jpeacock at 6:46 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

For #1 - you either make so much money you don't care what you do, or you love what you do so much that you don't care what you make. Most people prefer being happy over being rich :)

From what I've seen of advancing in large corporations, the job is not going to be any easier/less involved as he fast-tracks through management - he's going to be very successful, but also have to commit a lot of his life before he can slow down and enjoy it. Personally, I'd go for the position where he can enjoy his life now while still living comfortably.

(these results do not apply to everyone and exceptions are possible)
posted by jpeacock at 6:46 PM on August 5, 2012

You may want a mod's help in better anonymizing the question, or changing the form of the question entirely if you still want specific info about the consulting firm.

Yeah, this post may have already popped up on someone's screen via a social media monitoring tool.
posted by XMLicious at 7:54 PM on August 5, 2012

I was able to get this question to pop up in my first two searches. I won't put the search here as I don't want to increase its rank. (I did so out of concern for the applicant. Best to get a mod to anonymize this.)

As for fit, it really depends on the person. I cannot stand large companies with all their structure and formality. I didn't even like working in a mid-sized firm that had Fortune 500 clients. I'm much happier in small firms - but not so small that they have no support staff, unless it's just me running my own business. Your friend needs to take a look at what he wants out of life, what the culture is like, how he is with security and what makes him happy. Me, I'll take happy over money and security. But when I have no money, I don't feel so happy - and neither do most people. Does he have an emergency fund, paid off debt and so on? He should make sure he has things in place to make him feel secure, for example.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:57 PM on August 5, 2012

Here are a few things for your friend to consider:

1: He's young, and that's not a bad thing. But it means he's not had time to really absorb the full scope of the industry. That's what that fast-track is for at his company -- they move him around every 6 months to 2 years to different departments handling different tasks until he settles on something he loves or until he's reached his personal limit in terms of upward mobility in the company. If he doesn't love what he's doing now, it's changing in less than 2 years. Meanwhile, he's building experience, knowledge, and contacts. He won't get that level and breadth of exposure at this smaller company. They just don't have it to offer. But they need it, because they are selling business intelligence. I'm going to circle back to this in a minute, but for now I would say moving to the small company means less breadth and depth in the industry.

2. Someday, he'd like to not work at all, not for a big company and not for a small company. Money is important. The upward mobility that he can experience in the large company comes with regular pay increases, and he can make very good money. The relative lack of upward mobility in the small company will come with less money over the length of his working career. Plus, if he's coming from an area like Houston and moving to NYC, his money just doesn't go as far. There are all kinds of articles like this one that talk about the importance of saving while you are young. Plus, every increase is based on the last pay. Making less money can mean a totally different reality when he's older.

3. The above two points bring me to the third. Why does this company want him, and how does the company remain competitive? The large energy companies have entire departments -- thousands of people -- involved in intelligence. Those people also have decades of experience in the industry, and they have the inside knowledge of their employer's plans. The large companies do not need or want to spend $4000 on a 50-page paper that tells them about "key technologies in the global LNG market" or "information on the recent trends and issues within the European shale gas markets" or whatever. They already know about the technologies and trends -- they are making the technologies and live every day within these trends.

To effectively understand what he's writing about, he needs to have a lot of experience and exposure, which he doesn't have yet. I'm sure he's a fantastic and sharp guy, but to have the knowledge needed to write something that's really worth it to large companies, he needs something he won't have: Experience and contacts. This company needs 50-page research papers written at a particular price-point, and his "insider" knowledge will diminish with every passing year. If/when he realizes that and tries to go back to his now-current position on the fast track, he'll find that it's difficult. That fast track is usually designed for new graduates, not mid-career people. He'll be stuck.

3.5 If he would like references to sources about this small company, that's scary for several reasons, right? One, he needs to be good at research for this job. If not much is to be found about them, how are sales? A very basic search yielded two things: This company started about 5 years ago. And if you look LinkedIn you find that of their 690 employees, 525 are located in India. Can his salary be competitive with his Indian coworkers? When you narrow down that search to people who put "oil and gas" as their industry, you see a lot of young faces looking at you, mostly new graduates or people with only somewhat related backgrounds, such as recruiters. What I don't see are lots of people with the tremendous knowledge needed to put out quality intelligence, or people who have been in the workplace long enough to serve as mentors. I see less-expensive labor cranking out publications that might cover things that are new and interesting to them, but not to energy executives.

way tl;dr: So clearly, I think he's nuts. Maybe you think he's nuts too, since you posted this question. But if he's thought through all these issues, and he says, "I still want to go! It's fast-paced NYC, it's something different, I gotta know how this could turn out, I think these people are great!" or whatever, then I think that's the right decision for him. You get this one life, and you should live it the way you want. After considering the consequences, though.

I've never heard of Global Data. Platts and PennWell are the more commonly seen publications companies in the energy industry.

If he'd like to move into a smaller arena, maybe he needs to be much more specialized. "Petroleum engineer" is a pretty broad term and there's a huge diversity of jobs available to him. Is he a reservoir engineer with interest in GIS? A subsurface engineer with specific interests in evaluating costs? A drilling engineer who dreams of being in Alaska? A production engineer knowledgeable in EOR?
posted by Houstonian at 3:08 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Their website doesn't exactly excite me. They do business intelligence. Petroleum Engineer can take you way more interesting places than that. If consulting appeals Petroleum Engineer --> top tier b-school --> top tier strategy consulting --> senior exec in industry is a very well worn path.

Also your friend needs to network to people who have worked there and for their competitors and do some due diligence.
posted by JPD at 5:36 AM on August 6, 2012

« Older Help a Housing Newbie in NYC   |   Scheduling Shared Equipment Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.