(As originally posted on LinkedIn, June 28 2017)

To Canada 150 and beyond: the role of oil & gas

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By Kent Kaufield, EY Canada’s Oil & Gas Leader

Ahead of #Canada150, we’re reflecting on what we’ve accomplished and what awaits us in the next century and a half. We’re asking ourselves the kinds of #BetterQuestions that challenge, inspire and unlock new solutions.

Q: How is your sector embracing innovation and what does it mean for Canada?

A: Some of the work around robotics and digitization is changing the ways we extract, transport and use oil and natural gas. For example, in the next five years transportation of products and support material to and from all land sites or drilling sites will be automated, leading to huge changes in the types of jobs people will do.

There’ll also be a proliferation of jobs in technology and in the service sector that don’t have anything to do with hands-on oil and gas or mining work. Forward-thinking organizations need to think about fostering a culture of creativity, ingenuity, innovation and collaboration within their teams.

Q: What role does entrepreneurship play in your sector?

A: Entrepreneurship is the foundation of the energy sector. The multi-billion-dollar organizations started with an entrepreneur or small business with an idea and a vision. Oil and natural gas consumption isn’t going away anytime soon. Entrepreneurs who explore ways to reduce emissions will guide our transition to a lower-carbon future.

As an example, there may come a time when we transition away from cars. Not just driverless cars but fewer cars all together. These kinds of changes represent a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Q: How can diversity move your sector forward?

A: The oil and natural gas sector lags in two areas: diversity and inclusivity, and adoption of technology. When you bring different perspectives and backgrounds to the table, you uncover new ways of solving problems. As the workforce in these companies diversifies, we’ll see even more innovative results overall.

Ten years from now, you’re going to see fully diversified boards and companies that have embraced digital enablement. Companies that don’t evolve along these lines will miss the opportunity to thrive, or even survive, over the longer term.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity are vital to Canada’s future success. Those who seize the opportunities that arise from disruption in every sector are poised to lead in the years ahead. Happy Canada Day!

What does the future hold for your business and how do you plan to get there?

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.