Reinforcing Core Strengths, Delivering Membership Value

SPE has always been strong and provides great value. I am one of those people who believes we can always be better.

Shauna Noonan and her University of Alberta professor, Dr. Farouq Ali.

SPE has always been strong and provides great value. I am one of those people who believes we can always be better. That is why I plan to emphasize our core strengths and how we can continue to build on them and grow stronger with the industry we serve. Members who take advantage of what SPE offers will find that it enriches their careers, as it has mine.

I originally joined SPE as a student at the University of Alberta. At that time, SPE was relatively new to Canada, and the student chapter had only recently been established. The Petroleum Society of Canada, which focused on the Canadian oil and gas industry and later merged with SPE, was the predominant association preference among my peers. To me, SPE brought a global perspective on our industry along with strong technical content and excellent conferences. If you had asked me then what value SPE held for me, my answer would have been simple—a chance to network and learn from technical papers. While my fellow students and I were excited to be a part of the SPE family, we had little concept of the depth and breadth of value the society would provide for our future professional development.

Source: Edmonton Journal.


My involvement in SPE has proven to be essential at each pivotal point in my career. As a young engineer, I would gladly pay for my own SPE membership even though I was counting pennies. I considered the annual dues an investment in my career, which continued to pay off repeatedly. I took on many different roles within SPE during my 29 years as a member—embracing positions that would develop my technical knowledge and soft skills, such as leadership and communication. So many doors of opportunity have opened for me because I interacted with my fellow members and utilized what SPE had to offer. The time spent on those SPE activities has always been a wise investment.

As your president, I want to expand the value an SPE membership brings to both members and to companies that support their employees’ involvement in SPE. Our society is strong, yet I believe there are opportunities for improvement in the following areas:

  • Gain recognition as the technical and unbiased source of information about our industry
  • Develop trust within our industry and with the public
  • Expand the value of membership and attract new members
  • Illustrate value of attending SPE events against competitor events
  • Increase manuscript citations and engage those from outside our industry who want to publish with SPE

The theme of my presidency is “SPE Strong: Strengthening the Core.” For the society to continue to grow and expand, we must ensure that the core attributes that have allowed SPE to flourish remain extremely strong, both now and in the future. Based on feedback I have received from fellow members over the past few years, I plan to focus on the five areas summarized below and detailed further in my upcoming columns.


Strengthen the quality of our technical content

SPE’s technical content is a key differentiator and continuing to build and grow that base is crucial for entering new and emerging markets, engaging current members, attracting new members, ensuring corporate support, and having credibility with external audiences. We must also provide members with the tools and opportunities to add their knowledge to our technical base.


Strengthen the tools and methods we use to disseminate knowledge to members

Smartphones are the backbone of today’s communications. SPE’s technical dissemination and exchange methods must allow easy access and delivery through mobile devices. We must transform our content capture and delivery to remain relevant to the younger members of our increasingly digital industry.

Strengthen the membership of core disciplines

Even as SPE expands the range of disciplines and content that are included in the society’s programs, we cannot lose focus on our core disciplines. As our industry undergoes a digital revolution, SPE must still deliver quality content and programs on fundamental petroleum engineering and field operations.


Strengthen knowledge transfer in unconventional resources

“To collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge” are the first seven words of SPE’s mission statement. The unconventional revolution has recharged our industry only after a steep learning curve. Unconventional plays all over the globe have yet to be fully developed. SPE is well-positioned to facilitate the knowledge transfer of best practices, technology, and cost efficiencies. Taking a strategic approach to our sharing of technical knowledge, we can elevate our industry and SPE.


Strengthen the feedstock of incoming talent into our industry

We must do a better job to attract the brightest young minds to our industry. They will drive the innovation and technological advances to make us better, safer, more efficient, embracing the digital revolution and its potential. We must also attract and retain the most talented academic faculty members who will train these future workers. Ultimately, the strength of SPE comes from its membership, so by increasing the talent coming into our industry, we make the society even stronger.

I am honored to be starting this journey as your president and am excited to engage with our wonderful members around the world. I look forward to hearing about how SPE has influenced you and listening to your ideas of ways we can make SPE more relevant and revered. Together, we can work together to make our society even stronger and increase the value that an SPE membership brings.

Why did you become an SPE member? Please send your response to
To hear Shauna’s President Column via podcast, please go to