An Interview With YEPP Coordinating Committee Chair

Who is Léon Beugelsdijk?

In 1997, I started my career as a mining engineer with BHP-Billiton in a copper mine in Chile with a degree from Delft U. After 2 years, I returned to Delft to perform doctoral research. The topic of my research is “Stimulation of Naturally Fractured Reservoirs.” In 2002, I joined Wintershall as a petrophysicist, looking at its North Sea assets. This year, I joined Shell E&P to work on its global producing assets.

I am married and have a son, who will soon turn 4. He brings a whole different set of wonderful challenges to my life compared to those in my professional career.

How did you get involved in SPE?

I became a member of SPE for its eLibrary and conferences during my doctoral research at Delft. My active membership was a result of one of the professors, who, in 2001, was the Chairperson of a formation-damage conference. He wanted a young member on the program committee. This was an excellent opportunity for me to rub shoulders with seasoned professionals in my field of research.

Two years later, in time for the next formation-damage conference, I had joined Wintershall, which was located across the street from the conference venue. I popped over during a lunch break to say hello to the committee members and SPE staff. A short chat with Val Johnston-Jones (SPE Director of Operations for the London office) got me up to date on the Young Professionals’ initiatives starting up in SPE and resulted in an invitation to join the program committee of the first Young Professionals’ workshop in Stresa.

Since then, I have helped start a YEPP section in The Netherlands in 2003 and supported several international initiatives with some passionate young professionals from around the globe. This has culminated in my being asked to become Chairperson of the new YEPP Coordinating Committee (YEPP CC) that started this year. I think my experience shows the strength of building relationships with people with similar interests. As a team, you can generate enormous energy to make a difference.

Are young professionals different from other SPE members?

I think what truly sets us apart from the average SPE member is our interest in a fulfilling career in this industry for decades to come. We are not necessarily young as in fresh out of school, nor qualify automatically as emerging leaders. We are in the early phase of our careers. We represent a generation of professionals who have to prove to the industry that we will not turn the lights off. We are willing to ask the tough questions and to take ownership of them to tackle the challenges facing our industry.

What is the role of the YEPP CC in SPE?

The YEPP CC is responsible for generating new programs and activities directed toward young professionals. The committee will also serve as a resource to SPE sections and event program and publications committees for their ongoing and new young professional programs. The YEPP CC will help guide the online YEPP Professional Network. The committee will make recommendations to the SPE Board of Directors as necessary to ensure that all YEPP programs have a continuous-improvement strategy in place. The committee will develop activities to strengthen the career development of SPE young professionals. Additionally, SPE activities to improve the global image of, and attraction of young people to, the petroleum industry will be supported.

This charge is very big and carries a lot of responsibility toward the future of the Society, its young members, and the industry as a whole. Fortunately, young members have been very proactive in volunteering for this responsibility. Talking to these members has positively shaped my perspective on the outlook of our industry.

What opportunities are available to YEPPs through SPE?

SPE offers a wide range of opportunities for people at the start of their career. It is relatively easy to become active at the local SPE level. It will open a local network of peers and professionals who are willing to share their knowledge with you. They will act as a sounding board for the first couple of steps in your career and beyond. An alternative for such feedback is the e-Mentoring program of SPE.

Most important in a career is to quickly build a technical base. The international journals, articles, and conferences provide the best sources for professional growth. Subscribing to the journals will give you access to cutting-edge technology and knowledge. Publishing your own articles will give you recognition in your field of expertise and educate the other members with your knowledge.

With respect to young professionals, they should join the local section or start their own YEPP program. It will provide you with the opportunity to organize any event you deem important for your development, learn new skills, take ownership, build friendships, and help develop our Society.

What is the best advice you feel you can pass on to our YEPP community?

Always recognize a learning opportunity. You can truly grow if you can take in criticism or mistakes and use them to make yourself stronger. As professionals, we do our job to the best of our abilities. Excellence can be reached only if you are willing to accept advice and criticism from senior people in our field. If they are willing to invest time in you by giving feedback, listen and reflect on what they are willing to share. If you can generate positive energy from such feedback, you will be better equipped for achieving a great career.


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