Looking Back: SPE Young Professionals Generate Energy

During the 2006 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in San Antonio, the Young Professionals Coordinating Committee (YPCC) will celebrate its first anniversary with confidence that it will continue to build on the strengths of the young members of the Society. The suggestion to create a committee looking at programs dedicated to young professionals originated in Stresa, Italy, in 2003 during the first international workshop under supervision of 2005 SPE President Giovanni Paccaloni. During the last year, 2006 SPE President Eve Sprunt has supported our group by suggesting a health, safety, and environment section in The Way Ahead. The growing support of the SPE leadership toward young members has also been shown by bringing SPE Board member Susan Howes in as a YPCC mentor. During the 2006 ATCE, Josh Etkind, a reservoir engineer for Shell and cofounder of the YPCC, will take over from me as Chairperson. With that, an exciting year comes to an end for me personally, although I will continue to contribute to and support the YPCC as the past chairperson for the next year.

Looking at the different programs that previously existed and the ones that were initiated in the last year, I think mostly about the impact TWA has on the young professionals in SPE. It reaches out and connects young members with articles tailored to their stage of professional and personal development. It has established a completely new forum to enable young professionals to share their experiences and get first-hand advice from top industry leaders and managers. The Young Professionals Network (YPN) on spe.org now serves as a communication forum to discuss TWA articles and issues, in addition to its original functionality of capturing best practices and linking YPs across geographical boundaries. The YPN is becoming the premiere online source for information about international activities and local sections.

It has been exciting to see the rapid adoption and expansion of the YP program concept. By disseminating section startup best practices through TWA, international workshops, and speaking engagements, and by providing support through the YPN, local YP sections have been starting up and growing around the globe (Fig. 1). They have courageously grasped the opportunity to develop the local section and themselves, on both a professional and personal level. In support of local YP sections at different levels of maturity, the YPCC is compiling best-practices support manuals. Already a lot of useful material can be found on the YPN, and the first SPE YP Tier guidelines have been added to this collection for you to use.

This year saw the start of the Ambassador Lecture Program (ALP) as a pilot program for Texas, Louisiana, and Europe. YP volunteers filled a gap in reaching out to students by visiting them at their universities. They shared their personal experiences about the first steps in a petroleum career. Several of the visits have been described in previous issues of TWA. Currently, a proposal has been made to expand the ALP to other areas. Coming back to the theme of this issue of TWA—mentorship—we are given the opportunity to support student members through the SPE e-Mentoring program. We might question how much we can contribute to the development of student members. However, remember the questions you asked when you were ready to start your first job. These were most likely about how to approach a company, about the way you were going to be interviewed or assessed, or maybe about a company culture. This vital knowledge we have learned through experience is valuable to the students interested in a career in the petroleum industry. The e-Mentoring program is an option to become champions of this industry, providing personal and professional feedback.

Another important initiative is the international SPE YP workshops, which were held in Biarritz (France); Keystone, Colorado (U.S.A.); and Adelaide (Australia) this year. These workshops bring YPs together face to face to share personal and professional experiences, and get insights from industry leaders. The networks that are created have generated many new initiatives and will remain valuable throughout our careers. Keep looking out for workshops in your region.

The unfortunate and untimely passing of Márcio Pereira in a fatal plane crash, a fellow member of the YPCC and champion of the Brazilian YP section, has been the darkest moment for the committee and for me personally. As chairperson of the YPCC, I would like to thank all active YPs for their courage, spirit, and participation. The YP programs and sections are growing and developing, generating energy for SPE. I am confident that this focus will positively impact our Society and that the YPs will continue to engage in the discussion on the future of our Society and industry for many more years to come.

The map shows the location of YP sections around the world.