Interview with Henk Jaap Kloosterman, Shell Learning: The world of work is rapidly changing, how do companies respond?

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The world of work is rapidly changing. Digital Technology disrupts business models and changes the way work is done. While digital immigrants need to keep up with digital natives, hierarchies disappear, and millennials and Gen Z generations feel entitled to rapid career growth in a compelling workplace. How do companies change their learning & development approach to respond to this changing landscape? Those questions and more will be addressed at AAPG’s Energy Transitions Forum, September 4-5 in Amsterdam.

Welcome to an interview with Henk Jaap Kloosterman, Subsurface Learning Manager at Shell.

What is your name and your background?

Henk Kloosterman
Henk Kloosterman
My name is Henk Jaap Kloosterman, I studied Applied Physics at Delft University of Technology and specialized in Acoustics and Seismics. After a stint in submarine detection research at TNO Defense R&D, I joined Shell and had various technical and leadership roles in Exploration and Development as well as in Reserves Assurance. My current role is in Learning & Development as Subsurface Learning Manager.

How did you become interested in geosciences?

It was really in Shell that the “geo-bit” came on my radar screen. With an education in Physics focused on analytical skills and trying to falsify theories and hypotheses to make them more credible, I now had to make sense from sparse and often ambiguous geological datasets to build conceptual models to underpin sound business decisions. It made me curious and eager to better understand geology, its variability and impact on oil and gas exploration and field developments.

Where did you do your early field work?

My early field work was done as part of the Shell learning curriculum and took me to places in Spain, Ireland and the USA. It provided me with insights in the complexity and variability of geological systems and its linkage to business decisions.

What were some of the notable, career shaping experiences in the context of digitalization?

In the last couple of years, I have been inspired by the work of the Deloitte Human Capital group on the future of work. Their ideas on how future disruptors, like digital technology, artificial intelligence, computing, robotics and the tsunami of data, in combination with the change in nature of careers is triggering the need for learning organizations to transform, resonate strongly with me.

Please discuss your work in digitalization and subsurface learning.

I perceive an urgent need for moving from more traditional programmatic subsurface learning programs to more learner-centric, personalized and empowered individual-driven development. Modularization and digitalization of learning material and linking it to Knowledge Management set-ups are key to this in my view. We have recently setup a learning nugget portal in Shell Learning that does precisely that, which is a key step forward in this journey.

Please discuss your involvement in digital outcrops.
What do you do with them? What are some of the new uses?

As part of our subsurface curriculum, we have been running geological field trips for many years. Digital technology offers the opportunity to upgrade the existing field trips and create virtual fieldtrips to reach a much broader audience.

Screenshot from the Virtual Fieldtrip
Screenshot from the Virtual Fieldtrip
We now routinely acquire digital data in the field (3D panoramic photos, drone footage etc) which are then converted into Learning Nuggets that form a Virtual Geological Fieldtrip. We can also easily connect field trip nuggets from different geographical areas in a similar depositional setting, enriching the field trip experience. The logical next step would be to go to fully immersive fieldtrips using virtual reality techniques, for which we are running a pilot.

What do you consider to be potentially game-changing for the industry?

Virtual Fieldtrip App.
Virtual Fieldtrip App.
The connectivity generated through a cloud-based set-up using both virtual and augmented reality technology to its fullest has the potential to fundamentally change the way we share information, educate ourselves and collaborate as humans. I can envisage a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies will help us in this education and collaboration journey, rather than being in competition with it.

Please describe your philosophy of life as it relates to change.

Embracing change is vital, it is everywhere all the time and the pace of change is increasing. Keep experimenting with ways to manage and leverage the change to your advantage, be willing to fail, but fail fast and move on.

Please recommend 2 or 3 books.

I like “Humanification – Go Digital, Stay Human” by the Dutch futurist Christian Kromme (ISBN 978-1-910864-97-5). The book highlights patterns in disruptive technologies and offers creative perspectives on how to be prepared for them.

A good read is also the “2018 Global Human Capital Trends” report from Deloitte, downloadable from the web. It highlights the major disruptors that impact the future of work and how companies can respond to them to thrive even better.

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