International Awards
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Regional Awards
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Cynthia Thompson
SPE Awards and Recognition Manager
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Awards Program Nomination Best Practices


A good nomination is key to communicating the qualifications of a candidate to the award committee.

SPE recognizes the diverse cultures represented in the membership.

Following best practices gives all members an equal opportunity for to participate successfully in the SPE International Awards Program.

Nominator Driven

Candidates must be nominated by a colleague. Self-nominations are not permitted.

The nominator must take the action to ensure the quality of the nomination.

The quality of nomination packets presented impact judges’ ability to select the best recipient.

These guidelines assist members to prepare an effective nomination that communicates the qualities of their candidate to the award committees.


SPE Awards are presented based on merit.

The content of the nomination should be driven by evidence of the achievements of the candidate.

Judges seek concrete evidence and measurable results of candidate achievements.

A thorough well documented nomination enables the judges to assess the candidate on his or her merits, and reward accordingly.

No special consideration is given to diversity factors. Recipients will be justified by merit only.

Section Best Practices:

The section plays a vital role in both regional and international awards nominations.

Each section must communicate the importance of the SPE awards program to the members through its meetings, technical events, and member communications.

The section motivates and assists its members in identifying candidates and producing effective nominations.

Sections may appoint an Awards Chair from their board to coordinate a nominating committee for international and regional awards.

Past Chair can act as the Awards Chair. They have a lot of experience with and knowledge of the section membership.

Sections should remind members that their colleagues might be the SPE leaders who excel technically or professionally. If they do not nominate their colleagues, perhaps no one will.

The Awards Chair can act as a point of contact to reduce duplication of effort.

Recognize award recipients at a sections celebration to signify the importance of their achievements.

Publish articles about award recipients in company newsletters and websites and the section newsletter and website. Remind others to submit nominations in the future.

Use Membership Builder to monitor past recipients and identify potential candidates.

Keep a section record of previous year’s nominations that were not selected and update them annually to maintain a candidate pool.

Regional and Technical Director Best Practices:

Members can work with their directors to ensure their region and discipline is represented in the Awards Program

Regional and technical directors are in a prime position to encourage the nomination of well qualified regional and international award candidates.

Regional and technical directors can be proactive in encouraging their sections or technical advisory committees to submit quality nominations.

Regional Directors can engage section leadership to create section nominating committees to identify and nominate qualified candidates.

Technical Directors can engage their advisory committee to create a nominating committee to identify and nominate qualified candidates.

Invite the Awards and Recognitions Manager to make a best practices presentation to their nominating committees.

Explain that regional candidates should be well documented with strong justification regardless of the potential to become international candidates:

  • To ensure the regional judges’ recommendations are made on solid evidence
  • To avoid the appearance of presentation based on familiarity
  • To reinforce member trust in regional award outcomes

Regional recipient to International Candidate Transition:

Regional award recipients become international candidates for the equivalent award in the following year

Regional Directors should review the regional recipient nomination to ensure it meets the same level of justification as a direct international nomination before sending the regional recipients to international competition.

Regional Directors can consult Technical Directors to review their technical award regional recipient nominations before approving them as international candidates.

Regional Directors can encourage their regional nominators to update the international nomination to ensure it is competitive.

How to write a good nomination

Start early. Composing a good nomination takes time and effort. Begin your research when the call for nominations begins in September so you are not rushed at the last minute.

Meet the deadline:

  • International: 15 February.
  • Regional: 1 March.
  • There are no extensions

The first step is to research the award criteria to ensure that your candidate is a good match. The award criteria are available online at

Ask these questions. Confirm that your candidate meets each one:

  • Is there an age requirement?
  • Is there a membership requirement?
  • Is there a service requirement?
  • Is the scope of the candidate’s work regional or international?
  • Do the candidate’s accomplishments meet the award criteria?

Outline your potential candidate’s qualifications. Compare them side by side to the award criteria. Once the information is outlined, you will find it easier to compose your argument.

Compose a summarizing statement or citation. Explain why your candidate should receive the award.

  • This statement must focus on award criteria and candidate qualifications. This single sentence should summarize your candidate’s qualifications and how they apply to the award criteria in a logical and concise statement.

Write several paragraphs providing justification. Provide significant information regarding the professional and industrial achievements noted in the summary statement.

  • This justification must contain sufficient detail to enable the committee to pass judgment on the candidate's worthiness.
  • List the award criteria and provide specific examples of candidate’s work that applies to the criteria
  • Provide measurable results of the candidate's work. Is it a “game changer?” How?
  • Explain how the candidate’s work has influenced SPE, the technology or the industry.
  • Give details regarding the originality of the candidate’s work and its impact.

Log in to the nomination portal to search for and find your candidate:

  • Go to to access the links to the nomination portals
  • Search using the candidate’s name or email address. Do not use both.
  • The search may return several member records. Choose one with SPE membership.
  • When you click the Nominate button, contact information in the form will be prepopulated.
  • Do not change the name of the award after you click the nominate button.

Complete all required fields.

Make sure the presentation is attractive and is easy on the eyes. Avoid run-on sentences. Use bullet points and white space.

Check spelling and grammar. If English is not your primary language consider asking a colleague for help.

Ensure that the content communicates the qualifications of your candidate.

Request letters of recommendation for your candidate from professional colleagues familiar with the candidate’s work. These are not required but are very helpful.

Ask well known, highly regarded people such as industry experts, past award winners, past board member, etc., but make sure the endorser knows the candidate’s work. Start early – it can take some time and work to identify these people and get them to write endorsements.

Ensure that each letter of endorsement is composed independently and addresses unique aspects of the candidate’s work. Avoid reciprocating endorsements such as ‘you endorse me and I’ll endorse you’.

Ask the candidate to suggest people for references.

You must upload letters of recommendation before the deadline

You can upload up to 3 letters to regional nominations and up to 6 letters for international nominations

You can ask your candidate to review the final nomination content and give feedback. This may lead to improvement in examples and additional supporting details. Note, the candidate cannot access the online nomination form. You will have to download it.

Ask another person to review the nomination for both content and the quality of the writing before submitting. Note, only you can access the online nomination form. You will have to download it.

Be sure to submit the nomination before the deadline. Draft nominations will not be reviewed.

The completed and submitted nomination will consist of:

  • The online nomination form
  • Uploaded letters of recommendation
  • Candidate’s CV/resume if they choose to upload it
  • Candidate’s SPE member profile

You can edit up until the deadline. SPE staff cannot attach items to the nomination for you.

How to compose a good letter of recommendation

  • Letters should include a brief introduction and discuss the relationship between writer and candidate.
  • The letter writers must address specific examples of the candidate’s work that meets the award criteria.
  • “Because he/she is a great engineer” must be followed up by concrete evidence of why.
  • Letters copied from other sources may not do justice to the nomination. Do not encourage multiple identical endorsements from colleagues.


This list of definitions is provided to help members understand the terms used in the SPE International Awards Program.

Award Committee – Group of SPE members who volunteer to act as judges tasked with reviewing all nomination packets in the candidate pool to select and recommend a recipient to the SPE Board of Directors. International Award committee members serve 3-year terms, are appointed by the SPE President-elect, and are approved by SPE Board of Directors. They are familiar with the award discipline and globally diverse. Regional Award committees are appointed by the Regional Director, serve a 1-year term, and are chosen from a broad selection of sections in the region.

Candidate - A person who is nominated by a colleague for an SPE award. Same as nominee.

Candidate Pool – Group of all candidates eligible for an award.

Confidential - Not available to the general membership. Restricted because of sensitive and/or personal information. Access to SPE international award nomination materials is limited to award committees, SPE Board of Directors, and staff.

Contest - Friendly competition between candidates for an award.

Criteria - Award standards a candidate must meet. The elements upon which the award committee bases it judgment or decision.

Election - The formal approval by the Board of Directors of the person recommended for an award (i.e. the recipient or winner) by an award committee.

Endorsement – Letter of recommendation. Approving testimony. A colleague’s letter of support that confirms or vouches for the candidate’s qualification for the award.

International Awards - Awards that acknowledge significant member accomplishments of an international scope.

Member in Good Standing – Paid SPE Member.

Nominate – To propose or formally submit a person as a candidate for an award.

Nomination – (v)The action of proposing a person as a candidate for election for an award or (n) the forms and attachments nominating a person.

Nomination Packet – A completed nomination form and the attachment.

Nominator - A person who nominates a candidate for an award.

Nominee - A person named as the potential recipient of an award. Same as candidate.

Professional Member – SPE member who is not a student member.

Qualified – Possessing the qualities necessary to be a candidate for an award.

Recipient – The person selected by the award committee and approved by the Board of Directors or Regional Director to receive the award. The winner of the award.

Regional Awards – Awards that acknowledge significant member accomplishments of a local or regional scope. Because recipients of Regional Awards move into consideration for the International equivalent in the following year, the quality of the documentation for regional nominations should meet the same high standards.

Sanctioned Countries – Individuals “ordinarily resident in” sanctioned countries, as defined by the US Government, are not eligible to participate in SPE Award Programs.

Selection - The choosing of a person for an award by the award committee. The name of the selected person is recommended to the Board of Directors for approval.

Student Member – A pre-professional student chapter member currently enrolled as a university student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in petroleum engineering or a related field. Except for the Ferguson Medal, student members are not eligible for SPE Awards.

Winner – The person selected by the award committee who is recommended to the board and approved to receive the award. Same as recipient.

Young Professional – SPE member age 35 and under.