I am very glad to have this opportunity to reflect on and share my experiences and successes of the last two years as the chair of the Doodletrain Committee, and as the Assistant Director of Educational Services in the first three months of 2020 and then as the Director starting in April after the incoming Director stepped down.
I set out, as the chair of the Doodletrain committee, to prove that if the committee selected high calibre courses and instructors, the geophysical community in Calgary would respond in kind by attending to these courses in greater numbers. The increase in the number of attendees from 181 in 2017 to 261 in 2018 proved my belief to be true. A significant increase in the revenue for the CSEG was indeed an additional bonus, with a net profit of over $49K. The following year the number of attendees was 241, a slight decrease, but the net profit increased to over $51K due to fewer overseas instructors taking part in the 2019 Doodletrain.
2019 also saw the maiden voyage of the Doodleship arrive in St. John’s NL without incident. The CSEG board of directors supported the event with an advance of $3K, and Geoff Fraser, the Director of Educational Services, mentioned to me that the board was not worried about the event bringing in revenue, as long as there was no financial loss. I knew the event wouldn’t incur a financial loss since I had “loaded the dice” by organizing the event in a way where the cost of hosting the event would be nearly zero. The event was a success with 33 attendees (16 students from Memorial University and 17 industry personnel). The event cost was covered by a generous sponsorship of $3100 by TGS, the costs for instructor preparation time and course time were covered by Equinor Canada, and Rainer Tonn taught the course pro bono, which was very generous indeed. All these factors contributed to a net gain of over $13K from this inaugural event. I attended the event myself at my own expense even though the CSEG board offered to cover my expenses in the amount of $500.
The 2020 Doodleship could have been pulled off if it had been planned for February instead of the beginning of April, but unfortunately, after all the time and effort invested by the committee chaired by John Townsley, coronavirus sank the 2020 Doodleship. I look forward to the relaunching of the Doodleship in 2021.
The enthusiasm of becoming the Director of Educational Services after three months as the Assistant director quickly dissipated when the infamous coronavirus reared its ugly head. Once the shock and awe of how fast the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt started to diminish, it was time to take a bold approach to educational efforts on behalf of the CSEG. The committees of the revenue-generating events of the CSEG, namely the Geoconvention, Symposium, and Doodletrain, were sent scrambling to regroup and decide how best to hold these events despite the ever-growing crisis brought on by the pandemic. Both Geoconvention and Symposium were postponed to late summer, but the Doodletrain remained at the planned late fall dates. With restrictions being placed on meetings and gatherings compounded by social distancing requirements, it was decided to host all three events as fully online events. I trusted the committees of each of those events to steer their respective events in the best way forward with confidence in the ability of the chairs and committee members.
For my part I took on what used to be a monthly fixture at the Petroleum Club, namely the CSEG luncheon, to transform it into an online luncheon webinar starting in April. There were a few challenges in adopting to an online format using Zoom, but everyone from Jim Racette and Alyssa Middleton at the CSEG office to the directors of the board did their part to make the transition an easy one.
I had set my sight on generating much-needed revenue for the CSEG by introducing a fee for the luncheon webinars but held back its inception until I was certain my effort would not backfire. The five free webinars from April to August had several topics and speakers with various areas of expertise. I used these webinars to learn valuable lessons in what would work when we introduced a fee. I realized that the calibre of the speaker held the key to the success of the fee for a given webinar. In that light I selected Brian Russell of CGG to spearhead the first paying webinar. Brian, with his vast knowledge and being the ultimate perfectionist, delivered an excellent webinar with 51 paying attendees including myself, who was the first to register for the webinar. The comments Brian received from the attendees immediately after the webinar certainly left him with a sense of satisfaction for his success in delivering a well-condensed webinar on a difficult topic such as machine learning. Thank you, Brian, for making the first paying webinar a success and for bringing much-needed revenue for the CSEG. It is noteworthy that the monthly CSEG luncheons cost $40 for members and the webinars were set at $15 for members. Eventually I hope we can go back to live events at the Petroleum Club once the dust settles.
In continuing with my belief of the importance of the speaker and his or her expertise and ability to deliver a high calibre presentation, I have enlisted Marco Perez of Velvet Energy Ltd., Rainer Tonn of Equinor Canada Ltd., Patrick Connolly (consulting geophysicist), Jon Downton of CGG and possibly Kurt Marfurt (University of Oklahoma) for the subsequent webinars. I am looking forward to their excellent presentations and a much wider audience from the geophysical community from many locations besides Calgary and Canada. Needless to say, the compliments I received from the CSEG president Geoff Fraser, CSEG vice president Nanna Eluik, and CSEG past president Neda Boroumand left me with a sense of gratitude to those who made my efforts a success – namely the attendees. My sincere belief is that the participation of the geophysical community in Calgary and in Canada needs to be augmented by the geophysical communities around the world in order for the educational events of the CSEG to be successful and, more importantly, expand. It is in that light I had pushed for an easier online registration method for non-members of the CSEG and was able to implement it on a very tight schedule in time for it to be tested for the September webinar. My search is on for webinar presenters of high calibre and topics that will draw many from various societies around the world.
The connections I have made with the EAGE and GSH (Geophysical Society of Houston) thanks to Malcolm Lansley, and CHOA (Canadian Heavy Oil Association), CSUR (Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources) and SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) thanks to Nanna Eluik, in adding events of each society in the others’ calendar of events and websites will definitely give the CSEG webinars much-needed publicity.
It was a challenge but being able to host a one-day short course by Dr. Ian Jones was a good start. Even though there were only six attendees, me included, the foundation has been laid for other short courses to be held in the coming months. Currently, Robert Godfrey is scheduled to offer a two-day course in November, with Patrick Connolly following with a two-day course in early January 2021 and possibly Kurt Marfurt in later February. Stay tuned for start of the registration for these world class courses.
With six months left in my position as the Director of Educational Services, my sincere hope and plan is to do my best to improve the financial outlook of the CSEG for 2020. For all those, especially companies such as CNRL (Neil Orr, Juan Joffre), Husky (Elaine Honsberger, David Emery) and Earth Signal, as well as many other companies and individuals who are too many to list, who have supported my efforts during my time on the CSEG Board of Directors and as the chair of the Doodletrain, I am truly grateful. Without your support my efforts would not have been very successful, to say the least.
A final “thank you” to my writing companion, my one-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd puppy, Orion.
Peace be the Journey! (from the movie: Cool Runnings).
Doodletrain 2018 in photos:
Doodleship 2019 in photos: