The question I’m most often asked lately has been, “Are you glad your term is almost over?”
My answer is “Yes … and also No”
In other words, I’m ambivalent about the end of my term as AAPG president.
Serving as president carries with it a lot of work beyond what the membership sees directly. Quite a few decisions and problems come across an AAPG president’s desk on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis. Just replying to emails from Members, Executive Committee members, staff and others can take up to an hour each day, on average. Planning for meetings and conferences, preparing speeches and presentations for conferences and the like take a variable amount of time during the year. And there are myriad other odd tasks that defy easy classification, but they also take up time, and that time adds up. The job of president could easily be a full-time paid position and still be quite a lot of work.
But, it’s rewarding work, and there is still a lot that remains to be accomplished before the end of my year. Although, some of that might be the most unpleasant kind of work: difficult decisions about programs to restructure or cut in order to keep the Association fiscally responsible in the coming years.
With regard to being president of AAPG, a year is both a long, and a short time.
A Year in Review
One of the responsibilities of the office is to, well … preside over the Association, and that means offering guidance on the various issues that affect the membership, which the purpose of this column in the Explorer.
Since this is my final installment, I’d like to step back and take stock of the topics I’ve addressed throughout the year, from the prior year’s results from the Annual Convention and Exhibition, the drop in membership at the beginning of the year and the anticipated drop again at the end of this year, hydraulic fracturing around the world, innovation in the industry and the future of the geoscientist, the reward of giving the AAPG awards, policy and geoscience, big data, student chapters, the Imperial Barrel Award program, AAPG’s 100th anniversary and ACE, cost cutting measures and the budget, both this year’s and next year’s.
Also, just as the president of the United States is the diplomat-in-chief for the country, the president of AAPG is likewise an ambassador of the Association who represents our members’ interests at various industry gatherings throughout the year.
Meetings this year included the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC), the 35th International Geological Congress, the International Conference and Exhibition (ICE) in Cancun, annual meetings for the Gulf Coast, Eastern and Rocky Mountain/Pacific sections in the fall, the International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC), the first joint SPE/AAPG Africa Energy and Technology Conference, APPEX Global, ACE in my hometown of Houston, the Southwest Section meeting, the 6th Geological Conference of the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago, and then another the Rocky Mountain Section meeting.
In addition, there were many other conferences for which I had to decline invitations due to scheduling conflicts, but would have liked to attend.
No Substitute For Personal Interaction
At more than half of those meetings, I gave presentations that focused mainly on workforce trends, innovation and the future of geoscience.
The reception I received at all of these meetings was phenomenal and I was struck by how appreciative the members were that the AAPG president had come to their meeting.
That had a significant impact that more than offset the cost of travel, and it’s an impact that could have not have been made remotely by way of teleconference.
That personal interaction made a big difference at each of these events, particularly when I engaged student chapters and gave numerous student presentations. The AAPG student members are a very engaging, passionate lot, and I am encouraged about the future of the geoscience profession and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to influence and interact with them on behalf of the Association.
Speaking of the future, this year was once again very tough financially for the association, due largely to underperformance of meeting attendance because of many factors, like company travel restrictions, which resulted in lower than expected revenue.
To mitigate the deficit, cost-cutting measures, virtual Executive Committee meetings and other savings were implemented. Staff was very conscious of expenses throughout the organization.
The good news is that we did not have to go into the Rainy Day Reserve Fund.
Next year will likely be much the same as the industry is expected to be fairly similar to this previous year. Your Executive Committee will be making some necessary decisions on AAPG programs and services before the end of the fiscal year, identified by an EC sub-committee in response to Advisory Council strategic recommendations.
All of this is to ensure that AAPG remains financially sound and continues to serve its members in the most important products and services. And, the stage has been set in this pivotal year to make AAPG nimble and adaptable to the changing landscape of the energy industry in this new, second century of the Association.
I would just like to thank all of the members and staff on behalf of the entire Executive Committee for your encouraging words and cooperative efforts this year. It has truly been a pleasure to serve.