DPA Offers Professional Support, Long and Short-Term

The Italian sculptor Agostino d’Antonio worked diligently on a large piece of marble; unable to produce his desired masterpiece, he lamented, “I can do nothing with it.”

Other sculptors also worked this difficult piece of marble, but to no avail.

But Michelangelo discovered the stone 25 years later, left degrading in an open courtyard, and saw the possibilities. He visualized David and began sculpting.

Michelangelo had vision and made things happen.


We have a good council this year for the Division of Professional Affairs (DPA), and I appreciate the “make-it-happen” attitude that we have experienced.

This year, for example, we have focused on providing education and building Web content. We also are working to make sure DPA has a presence in AAPG meetings. Mike Canich, DPA president-elect, is working to coordinate and schedule DPA activities in Section meetings and at AAPG’s annual ACE and ICE conventions.

A key new DPA project is the AAPG DPA Playmaker program guided by AAPG Honorary member and past DPA President Charles Sternbach as chair of DPA forums and meetings. Recently we had a great Playmaker program in Midland, Texas, with Mike Party as chair – almost 300 attended this meeting due to the excellent program.

We also had a great program in London on March 2; however, the price of oil hit us pretty hard and we had low turnout, but those who attended loved the product.

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The Italian sculptor Agostino d’Antonio worked diligently on a large piece of marble; unable to produce his desired masterpiece, he lamented, “I can do nothing with it.”

Other sculptors also worked this difficult piece of marble, but to no avail.

But Michelangelo discovered the stone 25 years later, left degrading in an open courtyard, and saw the possibilities. He visualized David and began sculpting.

Michelangelo had vision and made things happen.


We have a good council this year for the Division of Professional Affairs (DPA), and I appreciate the “make-it-happen” attitude that we have experienced.

This year, for example, we have focused on providing education and building Web content. We also are working to make sure DPA has a presence in AAPG meetings. Mike Canich, DPA president-elect, is working to coordinate and schedule DPA activities in Section meetings and at AAPG’s annual ACE and ICE conventions.

A key new DPA project is the AAPG DPA Playmaker program guided by AAPG Honorary member and past DPA President Charles Sternbach as chair of DPA forums and meetings. Recently we had a great Playmaker program in Midland, Texas, with Mike Party as chair – almost 300 attended this meeting due to the excellent program.

We also had a great program in London on March 2; however, the price of oil hit us pretty hard and we had low turnout, but those who attended loved the product.

Our most recent Playmaker was just held at the end of March in Calgary, Canada. John Hogg put together a great program, and you’ll be able to read about it in an upcoming EXPLORER article.

Also in late February we held our annual Reserves Forum in Houston. Eleazar J. Benedetto-Padron and his volunteers worked hard to develop a good program. Registrations were down, but we still had 80 attendees – and 26 attended a following class by John Etherington.


It’s not surprising that the price of oil and gas has a direct effect on attendance to AAPG and DPA programs. Like you, I hope this downturn is not too deep or too wide, and we can make adjustments and continue to grow.

Most of the recent layoffs were accompanied by decent to generous severance packages or transfers. Still, there have been the abrupt layoffs with a few minutes to grab your stuff and “get out of dodge.”

I was at a meeting in Midland when a company laid off staff within a one-hour window, and met several young professionals who were in shock and were asking, “What do I do now? All my personal contacts are in my computer in the office!”

So what do we do now?

What is our responsibility as a professional society?

As professionals?


DPA is following several paths to provide support for our members and young professionals.

Our first step was to ask the AAPG Executive Committee to be part of any action they plan to take regarding support of the membership. As a result we met in March with David Curtiss and several interested AAPG committees to discuss action items and possible joint programs.

The Membership Career Services Committee chaired by Clint Moore is taking the lead and they have several good programs that DPA can help support.

Our second step was to develop a strategy for DPA action. It is a two-fold strategy – short term “triage” support and longer-term career management.

For short-term support we are developing a toolbox that everyone should prepare in the event of a layoff. The toolbox should contain items such as personal contacts, updated résumé and other private information such as agreements.

We also will provide a legal definition of “intellectual property.”

Longer-term support is primarily developing a personal strategy for our careers. The reality is most of us will change jobs several times during our careers, and we should define our goals so we are prepared to adjust.

DPA has a tremendous knowledge base from which to draw in these areas.

For example, we have a great asset in a publication written by Jim Gibbs titled “Becoming an Independent Geologist: Thriving in Good Times and Bad.”

DPA plans to provide career support information online and through webinars.

We also are working on a strategy for students. Primarily we are asking our members to reach out and provide personal support to students and advice to the universities. It is important to inform students of job opportunities and various career pathways.

The good news is by far the majority of our members are gainfully employed this time around. It’s up to us to provide support to those who are temporarily caught in this current downturn.


DPA is designed to provide professional support in good times and bad. If you are not a DPA member, this is a great time to join – to find the professional support through our network of wise council.

Please talk to any DPA member if you are interested.

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