Author: Michelle Unger

Heading into the Transition with Competence 

An interview with Michelle Unger on helping the pipeline industry maintain competence heading into the energy transition 

In a Nutshell:

We live in times of unrelenting change, and our industry is no exception. There is a real urgency to develop the workforce in these unprecedented times. Particularly for hydrogen pipelines, technical excellence and safety depends on a workforce that is equipped with the right skills and competencies to make the best decisions in our industry’s inaugural projects, which will shape future standards and practices. 

We talked to Michelle Unger, Head of Group Business Line Education Systems & Services for an update on how ROSEN’s Competence Club is helping the pipeline workforce maintain core competencies – and discover new ones – as the industry embarks on the energy transition.

ROSEN’s Competence Club has been a pioneer in workforce education since 2015 and is a premier source of support for individuals and organizations looking to fast-track competence development. Leveraging the best minds in the industry, The Competence Club has a sharp focus on enabling the current and next generation of the workforce to deliver projects – and tackle the unknown. Recognizing the skills shortages, great crew changes, and now the new learning needs to deliver the energy transition, we have developed a range of educational offers that serve as a career companions for any pipeline professional.

Michelle, you and your team have been busy since the last Competence Club update – what’s been going on in your part of the ROSEN world?

In a nutshell, we’ve been evolving The Competence Club in several ways to serve our members. The way we learn has changed so dramatically since Covid – the demand for remote and social learning has increased significantly. We recognized the new opportunities to support competence development in our industry, so we reimagined our learning network by making it more ‘social’ and interactive.

We’ve transferred our great learning products to a completely new platform, grown our team to enhance our member engagement and support, as well as developed (an ongoing process) new courses and content. Plus, we’ve onboarded new experts and created global learning partnerships with top organizations and universities around the world. We’re proud to offer even greater value to our members by helping them learn effectively online and connect with each other for greater knowledge sharing.

A highlight of 2022 was being shortlisted as a finalist in the ASME Global Pipeline Award. It gave us great confidence and validation that The Competence Club is recognized as a valuable industry resource.

Creating this reimagined network puts your team is at the forefront of pipeline competence development. What do you think the greatest competency challenges are right now?

Developing skills to deal with hydrogen pipelines, and the conversion to hydrogen pipelines, is probably one of the top challenges. The climate change targets are pushing the workforce to deliver these projects in time with the utmost safety and excellence.

However, while the new body of knowledge is still emerging around the energy transition, the onus is currently on an individual’s own knowledge and engineering judgement. It’s a challenge for pipeline professionals as we still face losses in institutional knowledge through retirees, talent shortages, and needing to adapt to new remote ways of working for example. This affects levels of knowledge sharing and transfer within teams and across generations. To tackle the unknowns we face in future projects, we believe in helping members develop their critical thinking and judgement, by increasing levels of general pipeline knowledge. Essential mechanisms to achieve this are a professional’s ability to collaborate, accessing industry experience and lessons learned, and developing their social capital to help them succeed.

Access to learning and knowledge is often the first hurdle to overcome. How is The Competence Club supporting professionals to access and develop new knowledge and competencies for hydrogen pipelines specifically?

Our ability to collaborate with top industry experts has always enabled us to create excellent courses and resources to support our members’ learning journey. The topic of hydrogen pipelines is no exception!

In January 2023 we developed the hydrogen competency standard in conjunction with several experts. It’s a key resource in The Competence Club. This competency standard outlines the minimum necessary principles, concepts, practices, problems, challenges, and technical parameters involved in the role of these transmission pipelines in the energy transition. It also covers key technical, design, operation, and integrity management issues.

Members can now access self-paced and instructor lead courses on hydrogen. The hydrogen e-learn helps members grow their knowledge and awareness of the reasons for hydrogen pipelines, the basic properties of hydrogen, its transportation and storage, the different types (‘colors’) of hydrogen and their production, plus the basic design and issues faced with hydrogen pipelines. The virtual course enables members to discuss pipeline design principles, standards, and regulations, as well as outlining and summarizing the bases of the key contents of hydrogen design standards and their integrity management. In addition to this, attendees of our 2-day course in partnership with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, can join an interactive session on how to repurpose an existing gas pipeline by applying the concepts discussed during the training sessions.

Furthermore, we have a special interest group in the community focused entirely on hydrogen transition. This is where members can learn from each other by engaging in discussions.

Keeping up with the times, both with how we learn and what we learn, The Competence Club has evolved significantly over the past year. What’s new for members?

As I’ve mentioned, The Competence Club has embraced virtual social learning and provided members with the opportunity to interact with each other in a global online community. Members can join a range of special interest groups, build their professional network, showcase their profile, and complete learning journeys tailored specifically to their needs. The platform offers a modern learning experience, is accessible on all devices, and with a range of membership options, it makes professional development more accessible and affordable.

We are particularly excited about being able to celebrate our members’ learning achievements through profile badges, certificates, and monthly recognition awards. We are also looking forward to launching our new series of community events in due course.

Speaking of a new events series, what can our readers get involved in over the next few months?

We invite current and new members to take advantage of our new hydrogen pipeline resources. Whether it’s enrolling onto the self-paced e-learn, learning about the training and assessment requirements from the hydrogen competency standard, or booking onto our virtual courses – members can tap into current guidance to support their development in this key industry topic.

We also encourage members to engage in the community by joining the special interest groups and sharing their general updates, questions, and insights with other members. It’s great to see the number of connections members are creating through the virtual networking features – social capital is such a valuable resource these days!

In August, readers can access our upcoming publications in the Pipeline & Gas Journal and Rio Pipeline where we explain more about the challenges of competence development in these disruptive times. If you are attending Rio Pipeline, pop over to the ROSEN booth and we will be happy to discuss your competence development requirements!

On a more personal note, The Competence Club is dedicated to helping users be successful in their careers and projects. What’s your top tip for being successful?

My top tip is to keep learning. No matter where we are on our career journey, there is always something new to learn. We are seeing this every day in pipeline engineering as we progress with the energy transition, and in our professional skillset as we adapt to the influence of artificial intelligence for example. It’s vital to keep our knowledge up-to-date, evolve our competency to tackle challenges, and develop our unique brand of expertise in line with market and sector demands.

I’m passionate about helping people develop in their field and I recently published my ’10 Tips for Successful Careers’, where I share my personal experience and invite people to reflect on their own career journey. Readers can download a copy via The Competence Club.

If you are currently leading a team, I’ve found that executive coaching can support you, and your team, in reaching career goals successfully. Contact me to book your slot to talk about your needs.

Thanks for your time, Michelle. It’s great to hear how The Competence Club is evolving to support the contemporary learning needs of our workforce. Any final words?

We would like to recognize all our current Competence Club members, and their employers, for their participation and dedication to learning – it’s what makes this community so beneficial to members and our industry. I extend the invitation to our readers to join this global learning network – visit our Competence Club to set up your free account. Our team is available to answer any questions and help you get started. We look forward to seeing you in our courses, events, and professional community! Keep learning, keep connecting, keep developing your successful career.

Business Portrait of Michelle Unger


Michelle Unger

Head of the Group Business Line Education Systems and Services, ROSEN UK 

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