Helping Geoscientists Become Leaders

When I graduated from college with a degree in geology in 1975, I admit that I did not have a very good understanding of how a person could earn a living as a geologist.

I certainly had no idea that I was about to embark on a lifelong adventure, the scope, breadth and dimensions of which I could never have imagined. During my 35 years as an active AAPG Member, this profession has allowed me to work with some amazingly talented people to solve some very challenging technical and business problems that ultimately have led to the discovery and development of new energy sources to power our world’s growing economy. I have had the privilege of working on almost every continent on the globe. I have had my share of both successes and failures. Anybody who works in this business for very long learns that failure comes with the job, and that to be successful over the long term takes a measure of resilience and perseverance.

The rewards and sense of accomplishment from completing quality technical work or delivering successful wells, ventures or business deals outweigh the disappointment of the inevitable failures. At the end of the day, we get the satisfaction of knowing that what we do is vitally important to our world’s economy and, ultimately, to the standard of living to which most people aspire. It is a job in which we should all take great pride. It is why I believe petroleum geoscience is one of the world’s great professions, and one I have been proud to be a part of for 35 years.

The Year Ahead

With that context, you may be able to better understand why it is such an honor and privilege for me to have been elected president of the AAPG’s Division of Professional Affairs (DPA) for the 2016-17 term.

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When I graduated from college with a degree in geology in 1975, I admit that I did not have a very good understanding of how a person could earn a living as a geologist.

I certainly had no idea that I was about to embark on a lifelong adventure, the scope, breadth and dimensions of which I could never have imagined. During my 35 years as an active AAPG Member, this profession has allowed me to work with some amazingly talented people to solve some very challenging technical and business problems that ultimately have led to the discovery and development of new energy sources to power our world’s growing economy. I have had the privilege of working on almost every continent on the globe. I have had my share of both successes and failures. Anybody who works in this business for very long learns that failure comes with the job, and that to be successful over the long term takes a measure of resilience and perseverance.

The rewards and sense of accomplishment from completing quality technical work or delivering successful wells, ventures or business deals outweigh the disappointment of the inevitable failures. At the end of the day, we get the satisfaction of knowing that what we do is vitally important to our world’s economy and, ultimately, to the standard of living to which most people aspire. It is a job in which we should all take great pride. It is why I believe petroleum geoscience is one of the world’s great professions, and one I have been proud to be a part of for 35 years.

The Year Ahead

With that context, you may be able to better understand why it is such an honor and privilege for me to have been elected president of the AAPG’s Division of Professional Affairs (DPA) for the 2016-17 term.

For this honor I can only say thank you to the DPA membership for your vote of confidence, and rest assured that I will work diligently to serve the needs of our organization and membership during this period of enormous economic difficulty for our industry.

Serving with me on the Executive Committee will be a quality team of geoscience professionals. I would like to particularly recognize and thank my predecessor, Mike Canich, for his outstanding leadership of the DPA over the past 12 months, which has certainly been one of the most difficult economic environments many of us have experienced in our professional careers.

He has been a wonderful partner and example for me as I begin my term. I look forward to working with the Executive Committee as we begin to tackle the challenges facing the DPA in this period of economic hardship.

Joining our Executive Committee is a team of 15 councilors from around the globe, representing DPA members in almost every Section and Region.

The DPA is that community within AAPG that focuses on the professional practice of energy resource geoscience, upholds the AAPG Code of Ethics, provides continuing education and certifies the credentials of geoscientists. As such, the DPA is what makes AAPG not just a scientific society, but a professional society as well. The DPA community consists of geoscientists who are committed not only to standards of competence, but also to ethical behavior and professionalism. Our division members want to help improve the overall standards of professional practice, to represent our community in government affairs and to provide guidance to all AAPG members on how to improve their technical knowledge and professional practice.

Competence and Accountability

To advance this goal, I have selected as the theme for my term “Helping Geoscientists Become Leaders.”

The concept of leadership is inherent in every aspect of the DPA’s mission. One night several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Gene Kranz, retired NASA flight director for the Gemini and Apollo missions, give a lecture at Rice University on the 50th anniversary of the start of the space program.

His simple statement “leadership is competence and accountability” has stayed with me ever since. Geoscientists working in all types of organizations and roles, including multinationals, small startups, consulting firms and government or academic institutions, become leaders when they have attained the technical and business competence and standard of professional conduct to cause other people to value their contributions, act upon their recommendations and place trust in their judgment.

The DPA’s mission during my term will be to continue to deliver the many programs that aim to help geoscientists to attain this level of professional stature, and truly become leaders within the global petroleum geoscience community.

Specific plans will include:

  • Continuing the very successful “Playmaker’s Forum” series around the United States, which have provided inspirational case studies on how to turn promising geologic ideas into economic engines.
  • Delivering high quality “Discovery Thinking Forums” for the upcoming Cancun International Conference and Exhibition this September and Houston Annual Convention and Exhibition in 2017.
  • Ongoing certification of qualified geoscientists.
  • Delivery of convention short courses.
  • Disseminating timely information that affects our profession via the DPA’s quarterly publication, the Correlator.

Of particular importance will be improving connection with and participation from AAPG’s international membership and its Young Professionals to broaden the DPA membership to more truly reflect the diversity of our profession and ensure the continuity of the organization into the next generation.

Given the state of our industry, it will be more important than ever to provide our members with programs and services to help them to be more competitive and employable in today’s tough business environment.

This promises to be an exciting journey during an admittedly turbulent time in our industry. I look forward to this task, and invite all AAPG members who share this vision for our profession to join me by becoming members of the DPA.