“The Changing of the Guard is a formal ceremony in which sentries providing ceremonial guard duties at important institutions are relieved by a new batch of sentries.”

While the CSEG Board of Directors would not consider themselves “sentries” they are however, custodians of the not-for-profit association: Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, your society.

They have been charged with guiding the CSEG through good times and bad, on an annual renewal basis. The Directors “change over” annually with new members signing up for a two-year term, with the exception of the President Elect – President – Past President, which lasts three years. This process ensures new life and thoughts are brought into the society while providing an opportunity for new directors to learn the roles in the first year “Assistant” Director role.

The Board of Directors of the CSEG are the “Guards” of the CSEG.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

CSEG Strategy to Survive and Grow

From 2007 – 2014 the CSEG made a profit and the society did well. In fiscal 2015, however, the society ran a significant deficit budget, and 2016 wasn’t much better with a deficit of -$270,000. In 2017 we started out with a quarter million-dollar deficit budget. The CSEG needed to change its business model or become insolvent within three years. See Figure 1.

Fig. 01
Figure 1. The enduring impact of declining oil prices and other market conditions in Canada, has posed a significant threat for the CSEG and many of its valued members, as reflected in the year-end financial positions, in beginning in 2015 and projected into 2017.

Back in April 2016, under the direction of Marian Hanna, the Board reviewed the old and created a new CSEG strategy focusing on four themes: Financial Health, Member Value, Promotion of the Society and Position of the Society. See Table 1.

Table 01
Table 1. CSEG Strategic Plan that helps guide the Board of Directors of the CSEG and provides added direction and purpose for each new “Guard” as they change over each year.

With a sense of urgency, a portion of the board prioritized the Strategic Plan, focused on Financial Health, and created a special sub-committee to look for different or alternative sources of revenue, called the New Initiatives Committee (NIC), initially chaired by John Duhault and then in 2017 by Keith Millis. The committee, with seven other members of the society, came up with a number of concepts, including an idea through Jessica Galbraith to ask the University of Calgary’s Haskayne school of business MBA Marketing Class to do a Marketing study for the society. Under Jessica’s guidance, a proposal was built based on the past financial history the CSEG, the social and technical aspects of the society and who the members of our “Trade Association” actually were. A survey was sent out to a focus group of CSEG members and oil and gas companies to identify CSEG Ambassadors and Decision Makers within those companies and asked their input and concerns. The proposal was pitched to the MBA class in January 2017 and they immediately started using the survey results, contacts provided, and subsequent interviews with the “Decision Makers” and their own connections.

The class was broken into 6 groups of 3- 4 students who gave the CSEG Board members and their classmates a presentation in April 2017. The results would be characterized by the following themes: Expenses and Revenue, Training, Merge or Re-Invent, Emerging Professional Programs and Students and were summarized by Keith Millis and Neda Boroumand. See Table 2.

Table 02
Table 2. External Advice: Summarized themes and associated initiatives that came through the New Initiatives Committee from the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business MBA marketing class under the direction of Dr. Hassay.

New Initiatives: Internal Advice: Changing of the Guard

In order to get ideas and guidance from the leadership team of the entire CSEG membership, a meeting with all the Chairs of all the Technical and Social Committees of the CSEG and CSEG-Foundation and the CSEG Board was held in September 2017. Over 50%, or 22 of the 42 invited chairs or their representatives, attended. They were challenged to answer the question: What is the most important thing that the CSEG should do now to remain relevant? They were then split into two groups and were asked to provide their thoughts on the four themes identified by the MBA students. They in turn created a stellar number of ideas and concepts related to: alternative training and course ideas, the RECORDER, a RECORDER blog, the Digital media promotion of our webpage and the society, a long list of potential advertisers, several societies and associations to merge or combine with, certification processes, APEGA relationships, job identification and diversification for our members. See Table 3.

Table 03
Table 3. Internal Advice: Summarized themes from the chairs of all the CSEG social, technical and CSEG Foundation committees that resulted from the “Changing of the Guard” session in September 2017.

“What is the most important thing that the CSEG should do now to remain relevant?”

The CSEG Board then met in November 2017 to discuss the external advice and internal advice and come up with a plan of action. This resulted in a number of ideas and plans that were revisited again in February 2018 and are now part of the CSEG Board’s next steps. One must keep in mind that the society, like any other business, has limited resources to carry out its plans or operations. Those resources are people, time and money. It is easy to come up with a number of initiatives, but it takes a prioritized strategy to decide which ones to act on.

Next steps, where are we taking the society?

What the Board decided NOT to pursue:

Merge: We will not be merging with another professional society at this time. The CSEG is in relatively good financial shape, especially compared to all the societies or organizations we could have merged with. We will seek collaborative activities with our sister societies, CSPG, CWLS, SEG and EAGE. We will continue to support geophysics in Canada. The “E” as in exploration will just be less emphasized.

Certification: We will not proceed down the road of geophysical certifications. There are not enough resources or desire to challenge what academia and APEGA – the Regulator – are responsible for.

What we WILL be pursuing:

  1. Welcome to the Digital Age Committee: Elizabeth Atkinson, Chair
    1. APS, friendly Digital advertising, training committee collaborations etc.
  2. Training Committee: Geoff Fraser
    1. Co-ordination of Doodletrain, Symposium, other courses and workshops including online training, basics etc.
  3. Financial Future: Marian Hanna, Chair
    1. Diversify advertisers and sponsorships, CSEG events, website advertisers, RECORDER archives, non-traditional advertisers, CSEG merchandise etc.
  4. Future Directions: John Duhault, Chair
    1. Survey: Focused on CSEG members, their concerns, wants and needs, etc.
    2. Collaborations with other societies in Canada and International
  5. APEGA Relations: Ron Newman: Chair
    1. Sponsorship, training and support

The future of the CSEG:

Due to the efforts of the Board and leadership teams, both technical and social, within the CSEG membership the fiscal deficit was reduced from $256,000 to $3,000. An accomplishment to be very proud of!

This year’s conservative budget will start with a $128,000 deficit. Market conditions, the society Leadership team and the ongoing membership commitments will all determine if the budget deficit will get to zero fiscal 2018. See Figure 2.

Good luck and prosperity to all the members and future Board members of the CSEG!

The “Changing of the Guard” indeed! Do you have the courage to step forward and be considered a CSEG “Sentry”?!

Fig. 02
Figure 2. Illustrates the tremendous efforts of the staff, board and committee leadership teams in the CSEG resulted in a deficit budget of only $3000 2017. Fiscal year 2018 is starting with a conservative deficit budget of -$128,000.



About the Author(s)

John L.J. Duhault, P.Geoph. is a “Hunter Finder Mentor” Geoscientist who graduated in 1979 and has over 39 years of industry experience including 50,000 hours of interpretation experience in Canada and overseas. He has presented the value of integrated geophysics using case histories in Canada, Europe, United States and New Zealand. He has worked for, consulted to, and found oil and gas for integrated senior and intermediate producers and numerous junior independents. He founded and led two private junior oil and gas companies and is currently the Principal Consultant for Starbird Enterprises specializing in conventional exploration and resource play seismic interpretation including completion geophysics assessments. Mr. Duhault is Past President of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG).



Join the Conversation

Interested in starting, or contributing to a conversation about an article or issue of the RECORDER? Join our CSEG LinkedIn Group.

Share This Article