This column marks my only RECORDER column as Vice President, and serves as an introduction to the 10 President’s Column articles required of me over the next year.
A couple of former CSEG Presidents have told me the hardest part of their term was writing columns for the RECORDER. While that may be the case, an article written by long time CSEG member Gaye Allen for a 1998 issue of the RECORDER offers good advice. Gaye credited even longer time member and former President (1986) John Boyd with suggesting that writing RECORDER articles and red wine ‘go very well together’. So, as I sit by the fire with a glass, the readership has my apologies in advance, for any wine soaked musings over the next year. Apologies, yes; regrets, no.
Though it will appear in the February issue of the RECORDER, this column was written some two months earlier in the weeks immediately before Christmas. The rush of industry and personal social events, and the oddly welcome pressures of the winter seismic season are not completely conducive to reflection on the results of 2012 and the plans for 2013. None the less, an attempt is made to be topically prescient.
A year ago, in the February 2012 RECORDER Rob Kendall wrote these words about his his year as CSEG Vice -President: “this year has been a busy one for me”. True indeed for me as well. The CSEG is a healthy and active organization and the requirement to become familiar to some degree with the varied activities has been a surprising and positive experience.
The surprise has been the realization of the range and scope of CSEG activities, and it has been positive,indeed affirming, in the general manner in which the astonishing range of activities are conducted. Some of my learnings and observations:
- CSEG delivers technical development to members through GeoConvention, RECORDER, the ‘phoenix-ed’ Journal, DoodleTrain week, the new Symposium, and things like Lunchbox Geophysics and MUG.
- CSEG delivers social and networking opportunities either through internal committees or the impressive group of independent self-funded committees that run long term events such as the Doodlebug, DoodleSpiel, Ski-Spree and others. The JGF provides networking opportunities specifically directed towards younger members.
- CSEG delivers advice and guidance to industry through initiatives undertaken by the Chief Geophysicists Forum, in the past couple of years, APEGA stamping practice, SPEE Reserve and Resource evaluation methods, and microseismic deliverables have all been addressed by CGF subcommittees. All of those efforts have gained some profile and recognition for CSEG outside of our usual sphere.
- In the past year CSEG has initiated cooperative efforts with the SEG and EAEG that should foster such things as the CSEG’s Canadian Distinguished lecturer making invited visits to SEG and EAEG venues.
- CSEG and the CSEG Foundation are both in sound fiscal health as they should be. Fiscal health is not a given. Most organizations of this type face financial trouble at one time or another. CSEG has been remarkably sound and stable for the past decade and that enables much of the Society’s activity: it takes money to “do things”.
- CSEG Delivers Outreach to University geoscience students, school children and teachers across the country. Outreach is conducted largely through the efforts of the CSEG Foundation’s Outreach Committee, and includes the continued delivery of some $40,000 per year in scholarship funding to geophysics students at universities across the country. Some 200 people are on the Outreach volunteer lists. To expand its capability the Foundation has embarked on a Fundraising campaign.
Those 200 people represent, for me, a summary of the earlier statement that the experience as CSEG Vice President has been positive and affirming. It has affirmed for me the fundamental belief that people want to contribute positively to their community. In the single focus area of Outreach we find volunteer numbers of about 8% of the total CSEG membership. Mentally, extend that level of engagement to the full range of CSEG activity and a sense of the vitality of Society emerges. The 200 are committed, energetic, and talented. Some are ‘seasoned’ and many are young – just like the membership as a whole. CSEG has a budget that is about 10% of the SEG’s budget – and we have staff equal to about 2% of the SEG’s staff numbers. That means two things: 1) we have outstanding staff, 2) we have outstanding volunteers – both in numbers and in ability.
CSEG appears to have desirable circumstances: we are fiscally sound and we have operational capability. That begs a question. What should we do?
Perhaps the most obvious answer is in the negative. We shouldn’t do anything stupid. To cast that in a positive context, we should maintain our fiscal health and encourage our volunteer base. That is pretty obvious, and could be extended to restricting ourselves to making minor changes to the things that are generally working. (As an aside, an interesting exercise in casting concepts positively is to take the biblical Ten Commandments and write them as positive statements.)
Bigger picture, there are other things CSEG is working towards. Specifically:
The Joint conventions have been an unqualified financial success, and the executives of the CSEG, CSP and CWLS are working towards building a structure to sustain and grow the convention in future years without the recurring need to sign a Joint Operating Agreement.
The 2013 Convention theme is integration. CSEG intends to spend some effort in the next year (at least) to promote geophysics to our engineering colleagues. The intent is to demonstrate to people outside our normal reach that geophysics is a ‘value proposition’ for resource plays, self sourced reservoir plays, unconventional projects – whatever your preferred phrasing is. We’ll do this by attending SPE and CSUR trade events, for example, and by inviting those societies and their members to attend ours.
Lastly, the demographics of the CSEG are changing. This hardly a surprise to anybody. This year’s executive is younger than last year’s. This is a trend that should continue. At the December 2012 CSEG Past Presidents gathering there was one woman (Valerie Neilson-1983; Nancy Shaw, 1998 was unable to attend). The faces at the executive table should be more representative of our membership. We are making some progress. Continued progress will require people saying ‘yes’ when the summer and fall phone calls are made to recruit next years executive.