Over the last 3 years, the price of oil has been rather, er…..slippery. At a high of $125 as recently as 2012, oil prices fell to just $30 by the beginning of 2016. They hover at around $40 currently, but the drop has been enough to send more than OPEC into panic mode. Oil and gas professionals, many of whom saw resurgent careers and rising demand for skills even through the global financial crisis (2008-10), are today facing an uncertain future. This is exacerbated by the fact that even oil majors have chosen to simply shut down some units. The MBA for oil and gas professionals is therefore an option for such professionals that presents an opportunity to grow, gain new skills, and make the most of this slump for the industry. Indeed, many are opting for it already.
Why should an oil and gas professional consider an MBA at all?
We get it. Most oil and gas professionals aren’t simply functional engineers as one may find in several other industries. They have a specific industry focus as well, and this makes them deeper experts. Oil and gas professionals take definite pride in what they accomplish, whether it is process control, owning and implementing an engineering package, implementing sustainability processes, or ensuring quality. For this reason, the MBA for oil and gas professionals is not an automatic choice, or even a ‘must have’, as it may be in many other industries. Yet, oil and gas professionals who go for an MBA have much to gain, both in terms of skill acquisition and in terms of building a better career.
To begin with, the MBA can help oil and gas professionals gain deeper skills in operations management, process control and quality assessment, and emerging areas in the domain. Even if the professional chooses to continue in the industry, he/she will be more aware of the connections between operations and supply chains and other business functions. An MBA can be a door opener for more supervisory and strategic roles as well, allowing the professional to retain his/her technical edge while also contributing on a larger plank.
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Post-MBA options for the energy professional
Not all oil and gas professionals, though, would like to continue in the industry post-MBA too. For them, there are again plenty of options that open up. Whether it is supply chain or production roles in manufacturing, e-commerce, or shipping, or consulting roles with MBB firms or operations consulting firms, there is literally a plethora of opportunities out there. Add to this the fact that most consulting employers consider oil and gas professionals to be very valuable owing to their exposure to scale, process management, and quality, and you have a situation where post-MBA you could have your cake and eat it too.
Top MBA options for the oil and gas professional
While the M7 are of course outstanding across functions, the following MBA programs (organized by geography) are much in demand by oil and gas professionals. Not all of these programs are strong operations programs; some are strong in consulting instead. The MBA for oil and gas professionals is therefore a wide term and covers many programs. This is not an exhaustive list but a representative one.
USA: Ross, Kellogg, Rice (Jones), Texas (McCombs), Georgia Tech (Scheller), ASU (Carey), MSU (Broad), CMU (Tepper), Purdue (Krannert), Indiana (Kelley)
Canada: Queen’s, Rotman, Ivey, Sauder
Europe: INSEAD, IMD, HEC, LBS
Asia: ISB, NUS, Nanyang, HKUST
Apart from these, many other MBA programs may appeal to energy/oil and gas professionals as well, as those programs may offer specializations in topics such as Energy Finance, or Project Management.