Recently AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss and I had the pleasure of attending a Young Professionals in Energy (YPE) meeting in Pittsburgh – and what an eye-opening experience it was.
For those of you who are not familiar with YPE, it is a non-profit organization with more than 40,000 members and 40 local chapters worldwide, and its aim is to facilitate the advancement of young professionals in the global energy industry through social, educational and civic service-oriented events.
Two young energy finance professionals in the Houston area started the YPE organization in 2005. Think about it: a non-profit organization (like AAPG) with a very loose organizational structure, that is only 10 years old and has enticed 40,000 members worldwide to join.
Interestingly, you don’t have to be a YP to belong to YPE – and based on our Pittsburgh experience, attraction to this group and its events is not limited to YPs.
What drew and continues to draw my attention to the YPE organization is that it has experienced explosive growth while AAPG’s total membership has shown a very modest increase – and the number of our voting Members is actually declining.
Yes, the YPEs have a broader potential member base than does AAPG, but its success begs the question: Why do energy professionals want to belong to this organization?
Part of the answer may lie in the reality that our profession is increasingly becoming more team-based and cross-disciplinary – geologists and geophysicists working with engineers, landmen and economists.
AAPG member Josh Hickman, founder of the Pittsburgh YPE, asks the question: “If a geologist only does geology and knows only other geologists, how successful can he or she truly be in today’s world?”
I would add, how could they be successful especially if they work for a small company or are a consultant?
Perhaps to be successful in today’s environment it is necessary to integrate the technical disciplines with the other disciplines in the energy supply chain, which means associations that facilitate that dynamic have a lot of appeal.
To be fair, although AAPG’s primary focus always has been on our members who are geoscientists, we do have the Associate member category that allows non-geoscientists who are in the petroleum and related industries to join AAPG.
I don’t believe, however, we ever have actively tried to recruit them. Over the past few years the Executive Committee and staff had discussions about providing additional services that would be geared toward better serving our Associates and other interested customers, but not about actively recruiting Associates.
Part of the YPE’s success also may be that young people prefer inclusivity to exclusivity, and they join YPE because it is easy yet provides social and professional networking and training opportunities.
According to Stephen Cravens, one of the founders of YPE, inclusivity is required to get true interdisciplinary knowledge and idea sharing.
Also, very interestingly, while jobs for geoscientists during past industry downturns decreased in the E&P sector, they increased in the other sectors, such as banking and investment, because of increased acquisition and divestment opportunities brought on by low oil prices.
Therefore, providing opportunities for interaction and engagement across energy industry professionals might expand employment opportunities for all our members – especially during downturns like this.
As stated in last month’s column, AAPG leadership and staff are actively looking at ways that we can most effectively help our members during this downturn.
One good tool already in place is the AAPG Member Registry, which was created to network, foster scientific exchange and showcase your expertise to the entire world. You can read more about it on page 48; I really encourage you to check out the Registry on the AAPG website.
So, AAPG is responding to the needs of our members. It’s one reason why belonging to AAPG can be so valuable to your career.
But we’ll also continue to brainstorm about other ways we can help our members as we strive to make AAPG an integral part of careers around the world. We’ll continue to look for best practices developed by others that might benefit our members.
The Pittsburgh YPE, developed by AAPG members, provided some good ingredients to add to the mix.