SPE 101

SPE Needs You, and You Need SPE: Why and How to Volunteer

Thresia Nurhayati

Have you ever thought about how SPE accomplishes all it does? Meetings, conferences—even the magazine you’re holding—all are created largely through volunteer efforts. The passion and dedication of these volunteers are essential to making SPE function and helping it grow.

On top of their regular jobs and personal lives, why do thousands of volunteers around the world share their time and expertise helping organize events and promote SPE activities? These professionals understand that, in addition to being an opportunity to give back to their communities and to their industry, SPE service yields a number of professional and personal benefits. How so? Read on.

Every SPE member knows the power of networking. As the public face of SPE, volunteers have an enhanced opportunity to meet new people, make friends, and develop contacts that are beneficial both personally and professionally.

Yufa Safitri, Balikpapan Section vice chair, says, “Balikpapan is a tight-knit oil and gas community. By volunteering with SPE I get to know many professionals of various backgrounds from different companies.”

As volunteers move out of their comfort zone, they often discover meaningful, long-lasting friendships in addition to the anticipated professional exposure to new techniques and technologies. Since SPE is an international organization, many events involve coordination among people with significant differences in education and cultural background. Often volunteers work together across oceans and time zones. It can be quite a learning experience to discover how to negotiate all these elements to pull off a successful event!

Volunteers learn to appreciate other team members’ views and strong points, working together to deliver results—all of which make these volunteers more valuable to their employer in their day-to-day job.

SPE volunteers also learn to refine their communication and presentation skills, showcasing their ideas and gaining their colleagues’ support. They gain confidence from presenting in public—practicing reading an audience and leading discussions to keep listeners engaged.

Natasha Legge-Wilkinson, YP Committee member in the New South Wales SPE Section, says, “It can be quite unnerving to hold a presentation for high school and college students. Over time I’ve gotten a better hold of it. I’ve also learned to find means to pique their interest and to encourage their participation.”

SPE is an excellent forum for YPs to practice and improve time-management skills. For instance, since it can be difficult to schedule meetings with several volunteers, YPs learn to treat time with team members as precious. YPs also learn the importance of accomplishing tasks without holding up others. Most importantly, since volunteer YPs are balancing professional, family, and SPE obligations, they learn how to prioritize, stay focused, and get things done efficiently—valuable skills that come in handy in the professional environment.

SPE always needs volunteers to coordinate details of conferences and other events. Most companies support attendance for those serving on event committees, so you can increase your chance of attending technical conferences and forums through volunteering. Some sections even have programs to send exceptional volunteers to these events as a recognition award.

Typically, YPs do not get professional leadership opportunities until several years into their career. Within SPE, YPs can begin serving as leaders after little time in the industry. It isn’t unusual to see members of YP committees or section boards with only 1 to 2 years’ industry experience. And volunteers can quickly progress to significant leadership roles in the section or on other SPE committees.

When it comes to résumé-building and performance reviews, SPE service is usually considered a positive point. Volunteers burnish a company’s public image, build their own skills and experience, and raise their profile as self-starting individuals willing to go the extra mile. That said, it’s critical to remember that professional duties come first. It’s critical to ensure you have your supervisor’s support before taking on SPE volunteer roles.

As SPE grows, so does the need for new and continuing volunteers. Is there something you think your section should try or something that could be done better? Take action! Active volunteers forge SPE’s path forward in concert with other members.

The best way for YPs to start volunteering is by getting in touch with their local SPE section, which almost always has an ongoing need for help with regular section functions, local conferences, fundraisers, and so forth.

At SPE events, ask about opportunities, or visit www.spe.org/sections for officer contact info. YPs who want to further expand their participation can check www.spe.org/volunteer to review additional opportunities.

Have you volunteered with SPE? If not, what are you waiting for?