Technology in the Fuel Supply Chain (and how the Younger Generation will Help)


Back in May 2020 NOW Network president, Mush Khan, was interviewed for the Digital Oil and Gas podcast by Geoffrey Cann. In that interview he summarized the different sectors of the oil and gas industry, who The NOW Network is, and bringing younger generations into this industry. I’m going to share an excerpt of that conversation in this blog post. If you want to listen to the entire podcast you can find it here.

Geoffrey: To what extent do you feel that the lack of young bucks, young blood coming into an industry that’s been around for, I mean, fuel delivery has been around since the Rockefellers came up with the concept of consolidated industry, this is an industry has been very, very stable for a very, very long time. To what extent does the need for fresh insight, fresh leadership drive really this change in part. The crisis is one thing, but if you haven’t got the movers and shakers or fresh blood coming in and staring at the industry to say, how could we do this better, why would it ever change?


Mush: Well, you’re right. And I think it’s happening now, I think as, as the dedicated typical trucking company or a wholesaler or distributer, or even the other traditional players, retailers and so forth, refiners, in this industry, it’s not unusual for that census to be on the oldest side. That’s sort of just a mark of an industry that, I think sometimes because it’s a cyclical industry, it’s hard to make sort of strategic hires all the time. And so that does happen, and it’s one of those industries that has gone through that period of gaps in hiring and, that’s driven some of the tenure up, but I do think it’s changing. I think that young people are entering the industry. It’s not the sexiest industry, even when you look at it from the outside. And sometimes when you think about going to work for a technology company, or perhaps a really great brand or something like that, it’s probably a lot more attractive. But I think it’s actually a remarkable place for young creative person to come in and really try to make a difference in how we do things. And as I said, I think that coming in, and look, even if they’re not coming into our industry, consumers of the products that we deliver are getting younger. And they are thinking of how they want to experience this kind of a service in an entirely different way. And Geoffrey, I think you mentioned things like Uber and others.


Geoffrey: They set the bar.


Mush: They set up the way that we want to consume things. I think that the idea of looking at your phone and expecting to see a little bug, representing a car moving towards you and getting updates, that’s really sunk into what we want. And I think that the B2B world, especially in the oil and gas industry, A: I think is behind in general, but B: it has a great opportunity to embrace a different way of providing an experience to the customers. So, I think young people, as consumers will ultimately drive what this industry will do.


Geoffrey: I like your analogy to the pizza industry. A pizza entrepreneur would also say how hard it is to attract young people to work in that industry. And how do they change that by re envisioning and reimagining the company. Not as a low-tech dough and pizza sauce outfit but rather as a high tech, edgy food delivery, manufacturing and delivery business. And suddenly young people want to be part of it. So I think the message I would leave for a lot of people listening to this is if you want to attract talent into your part of the industry, one of the ways to do it is to embrace technology with some enthusiasm, because that’s what pulls young people in. And as it the underlying part, driving a truck and putting fuel into a tank, isn’t that sexy.


Mush: Sure, and I think it is certainly technology. And to me, I think technology is really what it represents, which is the willingness to change. Yeah. And I think that as leaders in the industry, and now I’m 30 years into my career, Geoffrey, which is another way of saying I’m old. Now I think back to when I was a baby engineer when I was 22 or 23 years old. And I was so lucky that I went to go work for a company that embraced the idea of giving real responsibility to young engineers, people like me that honestly didn’t know what they were doing most of the time. But they said, look, here’s a big assignment, go do it, make a real change happen. And, I remember being so energized by that opportunity, knowing that I couldn’t screw it up, or couldn’t screw it up too often or too much and still keep my job but still, I had an opportunity to change something. I think in our industry, we’ve got that same kind of window open now, which is to say, hey, look, we may be a trucking company or a wholesaler or distributor or refiner or retail provider, whatever. Why don’t you come on in and and tell us what you think about this? We’re going to give you this big project and go run with it. I think it’s incumbent upon leaders to provide that kind of space to young people. You know, I am certainly not that part of the crowd that sort of honestly complains about millennials or young folks or anything like that. I think that’s entirely the wrong way to look at it. I think that just like us, Geoffrey, when we came into the industry, we saw things differently, too. We saw things in a different way than the folks who were 25 or 30 years older than us. This is no different. I think we’ve got a great opportunity to say, look, come on in, I’ll provide you with the support and the resources and encouragement and guidance when it’s necessary. But we need you to help us to change things. So, my pitch to a young person in this industry would be come on in and revolutionize this industry. It’s right there to do. It’s gonna be around for a long time.


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