Initial Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Mike Loudin

Manager for Global Geoscience Hiring and Development

Carol Ormand interviewed Mike Loudin for the 2007 workshop on the Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals. This interview is one in a collection intended to provide insights into the hiring needs of various geoscience employment sectors. We hope that knowing these needs will guide geoscience departments in preparing students for their future careers. For additional perspectives, please see the other interviews in the collection. The opinions expressed on this page are those of Mike Loudin, not of ExxonMobil.

Jump Down To: Hiring Context | Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities | How to Stand Out from the Competition | Advice for Geoscience Programs

Hiring Context

ExxonMobil hires geoscientists around the world for many different types of activities, including mapping, formation evaluation, seismic analysis, and geoscience research. Virtually all of these positions require at least a Masters degree in geoscience.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Geoscience knowledge

Some basic geoscience knowledge is essential for a geoscientist working in the petroleum industry. For instance:
  • sedimentology and stratigraphy
  • structural geology, including the ability to envision three-dimensional structures
  • mineralogy and petrology
  • historical geology
  • geomorphology is also a bonus

In addition, a solid background in the cognate sciences (biology, physics and chemistry) and mathematics is key. Perhaps surprisingly, Mike does not expect entry-level hires for ExxonMobil to have any experience specifically in petroleum. Mike emphasizes that this is not representative of the petroleum industry in general. However, Mike's philosophy is that petroleum geology is ExxonMobil's specialty, and they can teach it to their new employees.

Other skills and abilities

Geoscience knowledge, while essential, is not sufficient by itself. Mike also looks for students who
  • have strong written and oral communication skills
  • are familiar with foreign culture(s), either having had courses exploring other modes of thought or having traveled abroad
  • have strong quantitative skills (beyond Calculus)
  • can work effectively in teams of geoscientists, engineers, and others
  • are leaders and are involved in their community

How to Stand Out from the Competition

ExxonMobil's recent hires, according to Mike, stood out from the competition in many ways. They expect networking to be part of their job, and in fact they thrive on it, constantly using technology to communicate with their colleagues and get work done. They are leaders. They have excellent writing skills. They are not afraid of learning new things, exploring new ideas and concepts. In fact, they are passionate about learning. Because nobody knows what the petroleum industry will look like 25 years from now, Mike believes this adaptability is one of the strongest assets an employee can bring to the company.

Advice for Geoscience Programs

In contrast to these exemplary candidates, Mike has seen some job applicants who are at a distinct employment disadvantage, not necessarily through any fault of their own. These candidates come from geoscience departments where technical programs have not changed very much, or have not kept pace with societal changes, over recent decades. For example, some geoscience programs have largely missed the computer revolution, and their students lack the computational skills prevalent elsewhere. Other programs have maintained a domestic focus in an increasingly globalized world. In contrast, Mike is enthusiastic about outward-focusing interdisciplinary programs that connect geoscience with the world at large. According to Mike, that's great preparation for future employment in a global environment.