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Kris Bevill, Forum News Service, Published January 16 2014

ND energy industry gains young professionals group

BISMARCK – What do Bismarck, Dubai, Hong Kong and Denver have in common?

Each city now hosts a chapter of Young Professionals in Energy, a nonprofit group focused on delivering networking opportunities to young members of the global energy industry. Founded in 2005, the group has 25 chapters worldwide with thousands of members, including 12,000 in its Houston chapter.

The Bismarck chapter is one of the organization’s newest branches, but membership is growing quickly, and the Bismarck branch soon may be one of several YPE chapters in the booming Bakken – a sign of the region’s significance in the global energy industry and the role that young professionals play.

“I think it is good publicity for the area and shows we are a focus point in the industry,” said Adam Landstrom, founder and executive director of the Bismarck chapter. “Not very many of these groups are based in a small metro area.”

Landstrom, 27, has worked in the energy industry as a landman since graduating from the University of North Dakota and passing the state bar exam in 2011. He launched the Bismarck chapter in June and quickly began signing on members. The chapter has about 50 members representing oil and gas companies, pipeline companies, law firms and other energy-related professions.

“It’s been a nice variety so far, which I’m very happy with,” Landstrom said. “Professionals are professionals. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie to work to be a professional.”

One reason Landstrom chose to launch the Bismarck YPE was that he recognized the significant age gap among industry professionals in the region and the potential for young professionals to take on leadership roles as their predecessors reach retirement age.

“I think that creates a lot of opportunities for young people because there is such an age difference right now in the industry, at least in North Dakota,” he said. “It’s a great time for a group like this to start, because of that.”

This month, the Bismarck YPE chapter will hold the first of what it plans to be annual meetings, where it will elect leaders and set a course of action for the coming year.

Landstrom recently relocated to Minot and plans to start a Minot branch next year as well. If the interest is high enough, he may help expand the group to include charters in other Bakken hub cities.

Like other young professionals groups, networking opportunities are the major draw for YPE. Landstrom said networking is immediately recognized as valuable for the under-40 age group because, unlike previous generations, they expect to change jobs frequently throughout their careers.

“We know it’s very likely that we’re not going to be at the same job 10 years from now,” he said.

In energy, networking also can provide valuable information about a widespread industry that includes many niche areas.

“If you work at a drilling company, you may not know what a pipeline company does and how that factors into what you do every day,” he said. “In any job, you can get so focused on your specific area and not realize the big picture. Networking allows you to see the big picture. It expands our understanding of the boom.”