Blog & News

Open Letter: Bridging the knowledge gap

Wed 14 March 2018

Category: Community

How do we, as an industry, capture the huge experience of retirees and put that to future use by the next generation

Article by Dave Peace

While we appear to be pretty good at talking about new and current areas of activity and new technology etc at all the shows and meetings around the world, when somebody retires, we don’t seem to do anything about it except buy them a leaving present and have a good booze up at the local the day they leave….which, in today’s information rich world, seems rather short-sighted.

So, a question might be, are there ways in which we can usefully capture and USE the information locked up in retiree’s heads and in their cupboards?

I personally would love to see if I could find new ways to help pass on what I have learnt in a way that could encourage youngsters and/or jump-start new opportunities for younger members who are looking for such opportunities.

So, the 3 main thoughts are:

  1. Is there, or could there be, a forum whereby we older experienced folks could offload our knowledge to younger enthusiasts who are looking for specific encouragement or information.
  2. What to do with all the “exploration STUFF” I have accumulated over the years
  3. I have a lot of ideas in my head for new exploration activities that could turn into NewCo start-ups given the right opportunities and encouragement, and I am sure I am not the only one, so how can we capture these ideas for future use by those who might appreciate them?

I have been using the first person here, but I know for sure that I am not the only one in this position. I have a large number of consultant (and ex-oilco) colleagues who I know for sure have bulging home offices and or libraries with all sorts of “Useful Stuff” they don’t know what to do with, and judging by the number of retirees in the PESGB mag over the last few years, there must be lots of other members who have accumulated their own personal databases and don’t know what to do with them either.

I recently wrote the note below to some friends who are in similar situations… it outlines a couple of obvious options open to us:

I am also trying to move on a bit in some ways… like after 50 years in the business give or take, I have a fair amount of “exploration stuff” lying around here and there… books and reports and maps and slides, pdfs and word docs etc etc. Much is in boxes, others are on older and slowly decrepitating computers. I am sure you know what I mean!

So the issue is,

A – Do I just say, oh well, and tip the lot in the nearest skip and never think about it again, and convert the office into an art studio or the like.

B – Do I dump it on the front door of an appropriate library and run before they see me doing so?

C – Do I donate it to A N Other worthy company…who will probably dump it in a cupboard until the next clear-out in 5 years’ time


D – Do I try to find some youngster who actually might be able and interested in using some or all of it and, by using it—and with some encouragement from me—actually grow a new business with it?

A  is, of course, the only sensible answer, but D has some merit as well…and it would be rather nice to mentor somebody who actually felt like I do about some of this stuff. Trick is…how to find someone like that?  (I have been involved with the PESGB Young Professional mentoring scheme in the past, there must be some folks in there who might be interested ?)

SO… answers on a postcard welcome please…and hence this letter to you. How might we do something more positive?

At a time when the industry has probably lost more experience than ever before, with huge numbers of people being laid off or having to retire early etc these last 5 years or so, it seems insane that we should just chuck the oldies out, forget their ideas and dump their stuff in a skip without even looking at what is in there. (Anyone who watches Antiques Roadshow knows what you could find in a skip on a good day!)

So, I am hoping that this letter might spur some discussion and thought and maybe even shake out some positive ideas for making better use of this huge overlooked resource… some things to consider might include:

  1. Series of “Experience” lectures to YPs and other interested newcomers to the industry to be held at GeolSoc or similar location…lunch time or early evenings, regular lectures from folks who have experience in any aspect of the industry.
  2. Dare I say it, an “Oldies Experience Register” or perhaps a more PC title, but somewhere retirees can list their areas of interest and folks like YP or greater industry folks could call on them as and when they need specific expertise in that area.
  3. “Exploration Stuff” – I would willingly donate some, or all my stuff to somebody/s who would be interested to carry some projects forward and run them, even perhaps helping a little to make things happen.

So, just a thought. It may be the ramblings of an oldie who just hates to see wasted opportunities, but with some other encouragement, perhaps we could help a few more newbies get further up the exploration path to success…while helping clear out our cupboards and home offices at the same time.

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