How My Journey to Becoming SPE Technical Director Started With SPE Connect
SPE Connect discussions are a lot of fun, well worth the time one invests, and who knows where it may lead you.
Yes, you may recognize one of my names (Bob, Robert or Pearson), that old guy who frequently posts an opinion or question on one of the SPE Connect Technical Communities.
After nearly a decade overseas, when we got back home to Calgary in 2015, I was faced with two dilemmas that are likely familiar to many of you:
- How to build (or in my case, rebuild) a professional network and establish name recognition?
- How to get up to speed with projects that were attracting the largest budgets and activity?
While in Australia, I had been working on technology transfer from North America that might help inform a deep gas exploration program on several plays that were somewhat analogous to tight gas discoveries in the Piceance Basin, Utah; the Green River Basin, Wyoming; and the Montney play in Western Canada. We had been focussed on demonstrating a business opportunity, based on big picture screening studies and data collection (project management Planning Stage 1).
As a result, I only had a passing knowledge of the well and reservoir performance, operational practices, and technical challenges with the appraisal and development of light oil and condensates in the ultra-tight sand, silt, and shale plays in the US and Canada. So, I needed to get back up to speed ASAP. So I set myself the challenge of spending 30 minutes per day monitoring what other professionals within my social media bubble were posting. I also attended as many SPE Calgary Section Technical Lunches as possible and volunteered on the membership committee to further expand my local network.
At first, I went to LinkedIn, because it has the widest reach, but I found it too distracting and depressing:
- Too many interesting but irrelevant ideas, neat inventions, and tortuous rabbit holes that eventually led back more or less to the same location from which I had set-off earlier.
- Far too many frustrated people, struggling to come to grips with the new realities of our industry and our limited role as senior professionals.
I don’t recall exactly when, where, and how I came across SPE Connect, but suspect that someone mentioned it at an SPE meeting or workshop, since I was not a dedicated explorer of the SPE website.
However, once I found SPE Connect, I was hooked and became a committed SPE Connect user and promoter—adding a promo into every PowerPoint deck that I created.
My 30 minutes of R&D per day slowly crept up to 4–6 hours per week on SPE Connect. As a generalist, who loves working on integrated multifunctional studies I spent quite a bit of time in the completions, production, and reservoir communities, occasionally dipping into one or two of the other groups to see what was going on there. SPE Connect has 6 Technical Communities and several Technical Sections and other networks, and you can choose to join the ones that you are interested.
As many of you may know, I cannot keep my mouth shut, or in this case my fingers off the keyboard, whenever the discussions came around to something about which I had an opinion or thought I knew something. (As an opinionated know-it-all, I was soon writing almost as much as reading!)
The next step in my re-education program was to fund my way to the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Dallas in 2018, by presenting a short course prior to the conference. At the ice-breaker reception, an old friend, Cam Matthews from CFER and the SPE Canada regional director on the SPE Board, introduced me to Terry Palisch, the SPE technical director for completions.
Terry recognized my name from my posts to the completions community and invited me to join the SPE Completions Advisory Committee with a brief to monitor and promote traffic on that SPE Connect Community. I took this new role with my usual unbridled enthusiasm, soon becoming the most frequent contributor on that space and further building my profile and exposure.
The next time that I ran into Cam, he twisted my ear about applying for a place on the SPE Board, as a technical director. This time in my main area of technical knowledge and experience, production and facilities operations. While I have had limited exposure to facility specification and design, I have a reasonable overview of those topics, as a result of extensive involvement in field development planning and peer reviews of offshore, onshore, and frontier projects in many parts of the world.
So, here I am, the new SPE Production and Facilities Technical Director with 675 contributions to SPE Connect and 545 discussion posts within some 3,600 engagements. I am hoping that means I read more than I write.
My advice to young professionals is to make the best use of the SPE Connect technical communities, to expand your knowledge and build your network. Join a technical section of your specialty and try posting a few questions or ask for help with a problem. You’ll likely get some useful advice or a valuable lead towards the next step in unraveling the puzzle, as well as virtually meeting a lot of people whom you may just meet in person some day, someplace—maybe at a SPE event.
SPE Connect discussions are a lot of fun, well worth the time one invests, and who knows were it may lead you!