Satinder Chopra and I have come up with a new idea for the RECORDER: this monthly Presidential column. We’d like to see if the membership gets some value from a brief column featuring my opinions or observations on a particular topic. I’ve enjoyed the Executive Message columns, especially their biographical content, but at times they’re a bit too positive and perky for my tastes, full of platitudes and cliches. You know – “It was a fantastic event…”, “Thanks to all the volunteers for all their efforts…”, “This wouldn’t have been possible without our generous sponsors….” – that kind of stuff. It’s important those kinds of things are said, but they don’t make for stimulating or thought provoking reading.
At any given time there are many relevant issues the executive is dealing with, and interesting topics that CSEG members have strong and differing opinions on. Our idea is that this Presidential column can address subjects each month that will generate discussion and engage the readership.
I’m sure that all of you occasionally experience an event that stimulates a period of thought and introspection. The recent death of Ted Rozsa had this effect on me.
A few years ago, as part of the 50th Doodlebug golf tournament, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ted’s wife Lola, and meeting their daughter, Mary. Ted’s worsening deafness made a direct interview with him impossible, but Lola has been a close partner with Ted in all their activities throughout their long marriage, and is an exemplary person in her own right. When she spoke at the 50th Doodlebug she was moving and intelligent; no one who was there will forget her words or the poignancy of the moment. The impression I have is that Ted was a man who was very sure of his values, and made every effort to live his life according to those values. The huge American flag hanging in the hall told me that he was loyal to his country of birth, even though he hadn’t lived there for 50 years or so. The attitudes of Lola and Mary, and their interaction, spoke of the strong family values in that household. The Doodlebug memorabilia in the basement, a veritable museum, told me how important the fellowship of the Calgary seismic industry was to Ted. And of course the recent obituaries and articles document Ted’s incredible philanthropy and commitment to the greater Calgary community. And so I was quite sad and introspective when one of the CSEG’s strongest role models passed away.
I found myself wondering whether our generation is sure of its core values, as Ted Rozsa was. It seems at times that the overwhelming priority of our industry and our generation is the pursuit of material wealth. Many of us think of charity only in the context of tax deductions, and our daily triangle between home, work and play might not necessarily pass through community. But even in my small circle of acquaintances I can list off many people heavily involved in good works. I see that Carmen Swalwell has added a new section to her RECORDER column this month: “Giving Back”. She plans to feature the charity or volunteer work of a CSEG member each month. I think that’s great, as it provides good role models to motivate all of us to do our part. There’s no shortage of good people in our CSEG community.
Soon after Ted’s passing, I met a young professor from U of C, Michelle Spila, at the Chief Geophysicists’ Forum. She is teaching a new course for the Department of Geology and Geophysics on business ethics and related topics (GLGY 589.06 "Professional Practice in Geoscience”). I thought, that’s a good thing - it’s important that potential entrants to industry are given some exposure to ethics, and the responsibilities of professional practice, before they enter industry.
The next day I attended a mandatory APEGGA Permit to Practice seminar, which touched on the subjects of our professional responsibilities and ethics in our business practices. This got me wondering whether enough of us take these concepts to the personal level, or whether we just float along within a business and social framework that was constructed by previous generations, without infusing that framework with social and ethical spirit necessary for a healthy culture.
I’ve shared some of my inward thoughts triggered by the passing of a man I didn’t know personally, but who was obviously a very positive role model, and a great example of many things that are good within our community. One of the important roles of a society such as the CSEG is that it does create a community within which there are some generally accepted shared values. And when someone of Ted Rozsa’s stature passes away, someone who embodies many of those ideals we share, then probably an excellent way to honour that person is with some personal reflection.