The AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada was a meeting of many firsts. It was my first time in a city mostly known to me as the hometown of the Dallas Stars’ ice hockey rival, the Calgary Flames, a former host to the Winter Olympic Games and the site of one of the rowdiest weeks of rodeo-based entertainment in the world, the Calgary Stampede. For the AAPG Young Professionals (YPs), it was not only the first time we held a YPs-only field trip, but also the first time we attempted an ambitious four-event program.
Reaching New Heights
On Saturday, a bus full of YPs disembarked from downtown Calgary bound for Kootenay National Park for the Young Professionals Guided Hike to Stanley Glacier and Marble Canyon led by Drs. Jean-Bernard Caron and Robert Gaines.
The trip featured outcrops of the Cambrian-aged Burgess Shale, renowned for its exquisite preservation of soft-bodied marine organisms. After a brief stop at Marble Canyon, the group began what would be a roughly four-hour climb to the Stanley Glacier field site. Though the traverse was challenged by a mix of rain, hail, sleet and heavy snow, and posed an additional challenge for those of us more accustomed to life at sea-level, we eventually arrived at the Burgess Shale outcrop and became the first group not affiliated with the Royal Ontario Museum expeditions to visit the excavation site.
Once back on the bus after a safe descent, participants expressed their appreciation of the field trip leaders, Canada Region YP Coordinator Meriem Grifi and her committee and field trip sponsor Noble Energy.
The next afternoon, YPs, students and experienced professionals convened at the BMO Centre for the Young Professionals Meet and Greet also sponsored by Noble Energy. The attendees were organized into small groups consisting of experienced professional “mentors” and student/YP “mentees” for informal discussions on such diverse topics as interviewing techniques, convention expectations, soft skills and the industry downturn. The event was so popular that we had to request additional chairs from the conference center staff. After extending my appreciation to the group for the amazing turnout, I introduced AAPG Secretary Heather LaReau, who welcomed the participants on behalf of Noble Energy. She encouraged both mentors and mentees to ask questions and learn from one another and invited everyone to continue the dialogue later that evening at the YP Networking Reception. We were later joined by AAPG President John Hogg, who shared his thoughts on the importance of networking and mentoring.
Following the Opening Session and Icebreaker, YPs, students, mentors and even a few Imperial Barrel Award teams celebrated the start of the meeting at the YP Networking Reception at The Unicorn Sports Cantina. Food and drinks provided by the event sponsor helped create an inviting atmosphere for discussion. The Unicorn became a regular YP hangout during the meeting, offering a space to decompress from the fast-paced environment of the convention center.
Creating Career (and Comedic) Potential
On Tuesday, the YPs returned to the BMO Centre Mustang Room for a YP Focus Session facilitated by Dr. Susan Nash, AAPG’s director of Innovation and Emerging Science and Technology. In a presentation entitled “How to Build Your Own Business Opportunities,” Nash discussed strategies for developing your personal brand, diversifying your marketable skill set and utilizing free or low-cost data and software resources to remain competitive in the job market. Attendees shared personal experiences where adaptability and thinking outside traditional job descriptions helped them succeed. I offered my own experience as a long-form improv comedy performer as an example of how an unusual skill that teaches you to think on your feet can create workplace opportunities. Those in attendance then bore witness to the comedic stylings of Nash and I as we demonstrated how comedy can be used in a professional setting.
The industry downturn has had a profound impact on oilfield workers worldwide, but the success of YP events at ACE Calgary shows that the future is bright.
Now is the time to strengthen your relationships with professional societies like AAPG, local societies and other geoscientists. The AAPG Young Professionals Special Interest Group (SIG) is committed to offering unique services and experiences like those at ACE Calgary to AAPG YPs and we encourage all AAPG Members to rally to this cause.
Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in the Calgary events. We’ve got big plans for the 100th anniversary of AAPG at the 2017 ACE in Houston and we look forward to celebrating this historic event with the entire membership.
If you’re interested in volunteering with the AAPG YP SIG, or just want to learn more about YP initiatives in your area, visit us online at http://www.aapg.org/youngpros and contact your Region or Section YP Coordinator. You can also ‘like’ the AAPG Young Professionals Special Interest Group Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @aapgypsig. See you next year in Houston!