Think back to how you first decided to become a geoscientist. Odds are good that it was because of an interaction with someone who you admired and who encouraged you to consider it.
That was certainly my experience as a freshman political science major, taking geology to satisfy my general education laboratory science requirement. It certainly sounded more interesting than chemistry, physics or biology, all of which I’d had in high school. As a kid, I had always enjoyed spending time in the mountains, playing in streams, and spent hours poring over the maps in the oversized National Geographic atlas that my father owned.
“What are you going to do with a political science degree?” my professor asked when I finished that first semester. “You should take historical geology next semester.” And that, as they say, was that.
When I ask AAPG members and volunteers how they first got involved in the Association, the stories are very similar. It was usually another member who asked them directly to join or pitch in to volunteer for a particular service or program.
As an association, we’re in the people business, and as we look to attract a new generation to our profession and into the geosciences, we need to remember that. We need to be about people.
A good example of how we are doing that is the AAPG Leadership Summit held in Mexico City last month. The summit has taken various forms over the years, but the current version has been designed and refined by the AAPG Latin America and Caribbean Region.
Since 2013, they have kept the vision alive with the intent to develop emerging leaders in their region. It’s now, once again, expanding globally to serve the entire AAPG community.
The purpose of the Leadership Summit is to invest in the participants, by equipping them with tools and knowledge that enhance their professional development and leadership skills and gain a broader understanding of themselves, their profession and our industry.
Finding and selecting the motivated, enthusiastic participants who are willing to participate in an intensive three-day event, and who are committed to taking their learnings back home and sharing them with their peers and colleagues is a competitive process. They are nominated and then submit an application video, which is evaluated and ranked by a group of external volunteers to make the final selection.
The result of this process was 22 young professionals and students participating in this year’s summit, from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.
The first day of the summit consisted of a series of panel discussions and presentations covering topical issues of the day and skills needed in today’s industry. These included discussions of the role of geoscientists in the public policy process and how as geoscientists we are resource managers and need to see ourselves that way. Panels spotlighting leadership roles for geoscientists, effective communication skills, a special presentation on critical thinking and a discussion of how young professionals can navigate the evolving energy landscape rounded out the day.
Day 2 of the summit was dedicated to a facilitated intensive coaching and leadership development session, designed to leave participants with a deeper understanding of and skills to develop their leadership abilities. The full-day training was delivered by professional coaches who donated their time for 2019 and 2022 summits in Buenos Aires and Cartagena as well as two online summits in 2020 and 2021.
The final day of the summit focused on what AAPG students and young professionals are doing around the world. The sharing of experiences and leveraging the insights and learnings from the first two days helped shape a bigger vision for what these leaders can do when they return home to pursue AAPG’s mission – and particularly invest in others.
A tremendous amount of work goes into this event, and I want to acknowledge Andrea Lopez Vega, Lauro Gasga, Paula Ramirez, Amrit Cooblal and Ana Karina Mariano for their leadership. Our staff team in LACR, led by Emily Smith Llinas, Diana Ruiz and Alejandra Lopez helped to shape and support the vision of our leaders. Advising, encouraging and motivating the entire team was AAPG Vice President of Regions Elvira Gomez and Julian Chenin, AAPG YP Committee Chair. It was truly a team effort.
Generous financial and in-kind support from Chevron and Jaguar E&P, AAGGP, ACGGP and MAGA made this summit possible, and we thank them for their commitment to investing in the next generation of leaders in our profession and industry.
We have great hopes for these emerging leaders, but they can’t do it alone. As American minister and professor H.E. Luccock observed, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
We’re in the people business, and it’s time to strike up the band.