“It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
This quote is frequently attributed to Charles Darwin, for understandable reasons, but it was actually coined in 1963 by a Louisiana State University business professor named Leon C. Megginson.
It’s been on my mind this year because being president of AAPG has been an exercise in adapting to change.
One of the hardest parts of this job is writing this column every month. It’s just like I’ve always said: monthly deadlines come two weeks apart. So, I thought this might be a good month to talk about all of the tasks that keep your president busy in any given year.
At the beginning of the year are committee chair assignments. Ideally, that’s accomplished early in the year, but there have been some changes to stretch the process out a bit. We have the new Technical Interest Groups (TIG) and Special Interest Groups (SIG) that we started last year, which are affecting some of the committees in the process. The TIG/SIG model is intended to serve as an “open ended” committee, making it easier for members to join without the formal structure of a committee. The process of forming TIGs and SIGs and incorporating them into the existing structure of committees is ongoing.
Interacting with Members
Then there are the events, many of which happen in the fall, like this year’s AAPG/SEG International Conference and Exhibition (ICE) in London in October, as well as four consecutive Section meetings. And, there are international meetings throughout the year in a variety of venues. Through all of them, as I interact with Members, I am always amazed at how excited they are to see the president of AAPG; it reinforces how involved the Association is in what Members around the United States and the world are doing.
But, my interaction with Members isn’t limited to meetings and conferences, but is an ongoing, day-to-day activity through a multitude of emails and telephone calls about various Member interests. Members will reach out to me with new ideas or to address various problems or to ask about their paper’s selection for an upcoming technical session, among a host of other issues. Lately, there have been a number of problems with non-U.S. Members who can’t get a visa to attend the upcoming Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Houston, as well as Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) contestants who are declined for visas.
The ongoing interaction with Members, and the opportunity to help resolve some of these problems is rewarding… but exhausting. One of the advantages the president has, though, is that the responsibility ends after a year, unlike the executive director’s job, which continues after the current president’s term.
The AAPG has a lot of moving parts.
At the present time, ACE and the 100th anniversary celebration in Houston is under way and will be highlighted in next month’s column. Clearly, last year was a challenging year, and this year has continued to be so as the price of oil and gas has begun its tenuous climb.
One observation I’ve made in meeting so many students around the world has been their true love of geology and geoscience. That’s one reason I’m optimistic about what lies ahead for the industry and the Association. And, I have written in a previous column about the technological changes I think will come about in the near future.
A part of that future has, in my talks, led to an analysis of the AAPG membership and consequently, the industry’s. I was surprised to see a high interest in a few slides illustrating that trend, and I think while we all know it, there is some value to seeing it graphically, so I have included it here.
The accompanying slides show Membership by age across time. The arrow represents when I joined AAPG in 1980 and follows my career through to the present.
As you can see, there are a great many Members moving into retirement or joining independents and in a few years, the workforce is going to have a shortage of geoscientists. Technology may alleviate some of that, but not all of it. As the demographics change, the opportunities will abound.
Lastly, the Executive Committee has asked the Advisory Committee to prepare a new strategic plan. Some of it was presented at the mid-year leadership meeting, and the rest is being presented now at the annual House of Delegates meeting in Houston. The upshot is, changes will be needed in a changing world, and your leadership is addressing those changes in the many facets of our Association. The goal of these changes is to make sure AAPG continues into the next 100 years. Every Member needs to be aware of these issues, and I plan to address the details of the strategic plan in next month’s column.