In order to succeed you must have passion for what you do.

An interview with Zee Wang

Coordinated by: Satinder Chopra | Photos courtesy: Oliver Kuhn
Zee Wang

Zhijing (Zee) Wang is a well known name for his exceptional achievements in rock physics and its applications in reservoir characterization and seismic reservoir monitoring. Zee is the editor/co-editor of three SEG reprint books and a co-recipient of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal. He has been actively participating in the SEG and other professional geophysical societies. Zee works at ChevronTexaco Energy Technology Company in San Ramon, California. When approached for this interview, Zee readily agreed to share his experience and ideas on a wide range of topics. Following are excerpts from the interview.

Before we start, I’d like to thank you, Satinder, for inviting me to this interview. Here I am representing myself, not my employer ChevronTexaco, so all the opinions and answers in this interview are mine only, not ChevronTexaco’s.

Could you start by telling us about your educational background?

Let me start from the very beginning. I started elementary school in a neighbouring village when I was nearly five. The teachers were all formally trained and well educated. I was the smallest and one of the smartest in the class and of course “cute” (smile). As a result, I received a lot of attention. Quite a few kids in my class were twice my age. I had to rely on them to pick me up in the morning to accompany me to school. During the winter it was still very dark when school started. I had to walk almost a mile to school, going through a wooded cemetery, so I was always scared of walking alone.

I was in 4th grade when the Cultural Revolution started in 1967 and suddenly there were no classes. Older kids, in their mid-teens, all became red guards and spent their time revenging the teachers’ disciplines by criticizing and sometimes beating the teachers. I was not eligible to be a red guard because of my family’s background, plus I was too small. I borrowed textbooks from older pupils and studied them but I occasionally skipped school and went to catch birds and fish.

All schools were disbanded in 1968 and all teachers and students sent home. I went back to my village and worked on the farm for almost three years. I really hated that because of the long days in the field; we grew mostly wheat, sweet potatoes and corn. We got up before dawn and came home after dark. The summer there was hot and humid and the winter was cold, very much like the state of New York. Everything there was done by manual labour – there was no machinery at all. I was 11.

In 1971, after several years of Revolution, the government finally tried to restore the education system. I applied to the commune’s middle school and was rejected despite my high scores in the exams. I was really devastated as all my friends were admitted. The reason was again my family’s anti-revolutionary background – we owned some land before 1949. I was really depressed for several months, not because of the hard work in the field but mostly because I was expelled from my peer group. My parents were probably even more depressed because I was the oldest boy in the family and Chinese culture puts a lot of expectations on the oldest male child.

Then fortune came. Three high school dropouts started a middle school class in my village and admitted anyone who wanted to enroll. I was delighted to go back to school so that I could avoid the long days in the field. Then Deng Xiaoping was restored to power in 1973 and experimented with an exam-based admission system to schools. I took the exams and came first out of several thousand students so I was admitted to high school.

I spent 2.5 years in high school and studied hard. Some teachers expressed their deep regrets that despite being a straight “A” student, I would have no opportunity to go to college because in the year I graduated, 1975, Deng Xiaoping was ousted once again. After high school, I went back to the village and became a real farmer. I tried hard to get into the village’s elementary school to become a teacher but I failed miserably because of my family’s background and because I would not bribe. I had nothing to bribe with anyway. To make me lose face further, the village leader assigned me to clean the school’s washrooms. As much as I hated that, I had no choice.

A year later, the county government’s working group came to the village and the group leader assigned me to be his speech writer and to be a writer for the village’s propaganda group. This turned out to be really useful for my college entrance exams two years later as it gave me the opportunity to write and practise what I learned in high school.

Chairman Mao died in September 1976 and Deng’s deputies got into power. They tried again to restore the formal education system and the first college entrance exam was given in late 1977. It was already almost three years after I had left high school. Nobody saved the textbooks and you could not buy or borrow them from anywhere so I had to take the three-day exams remembering what I could from high school.

The exams were held in a high school about six miles from my village. My mom prepared me three-days worth of boiled sweet potatoes and pickles. It was December and cold in Northern China. After the exams, I was about to collapse. The exams attracted many millions of high school graduates who had accumulated during the 11 years of Cultural Revolution so competition was fierce. The odds were about one in a hundred to get into college.

A month later, I received an admission notice to Chengdu Institute of Geology. My four years there were really enjoyable. I was assigned to major in earthquake seismology, studying the structures of the deep crust and upper mantle. I studied hard, averaging 14 hours a day, seven days a week. I was especially deficient in English as I had never even learned the 26 letters before. My goal was to memorize ten words a day and work on grammar as there was no way that I could practise spoken English. The whole college had five tape recorders and it was hard to find English books and references.

Zee Wang and Satinder Chopra

In September, 1981, a few months before graduating with a B.S. degree, I took a three-day exam for graduate studies abroad. Because there was no quota for earthquake seismology, I switched to exploration seismology. The competition was fierce as there were only 360 selected from all across China. I was really lucky to be among them. I was lucky enough to get acceptable scores for top U.S. universities like Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Harvard and Oregon State. My English teacher told me that Stanford was a top U.S. school and it had a nice campus so I chose it based on his recommendation and the Ministry assigned me to study rock physics.

I arrived at Stanford in December of 1982 and classes started in January 1983. With minimal knowledge of English and facing immense cultural and communication barriers, I struggled big time in and out of classes. I could hardly speak English and that really hindered my ability to communicate. One of the classes I took in the first quarter was Jon Claerbout’s reflection seismology. I had no clue of either computer programming or what Jon was trying to teach.

After a year and half at Stanford, I passed the written qualifying exam to get into the Ph.D. program but failed the oral exam. My advisor, Amos Nur, explained that he hardly saw me and did not know what skills I had or what I wanted to do. I had tried to avoid him and even fellow students because I could not speak English very well. Amos told me later on that he was trying to force me to communicate and pressure me to do research. After I failed my oral exam, I suddenly felt a sense of urgency: communicate or else. So I took a couple of spoken English classes in the Linguistics Department. I also found someone who taught me English and I taught him Chinese. I started socializing with fellow students and chatting with Amos at least twice every week. We became life-long friends. Three months later, he let me retake the oral and, as you can predict, I passed.

I did my thesis on measuring seismic velocities in rocks and fluids as functions of temperature and pressure related to seismic reservoir monitoring. After more than five years at Stanford, I received my Ph.D. degree in 1988.

Tell us about your career and work experience.

After my Ph.D. I started working for Core Labs, which was then part of Western Geophysical, in Calgary. Western Geophysical and the Alberta Research Council had a joint project studying the feasibility of seismically monitoring light hydrocarbon miscible injection in carbonate reservoirs. Keith Hirsche hired me because he knew that my thesis was on rock properties related to seismic reservoir monitoring.

This turned out to be extremely valuable for my later career because besides working on the ARC/ Western project, I was also doing technical services for Core Labs, which connected me to the real exploration and production world. Plus, I made some friends in oil companies while trying to help them solve technical problems. Keith helped me tremendously by introducing me to Calgary’s geophysical community.

Although my wife and I really enjoyed Calgary, she missed her family in California so after almost three years we came back. I joined Chevron in 1991 as a research geophysicist but had to take a pay cut. I spent a little over eight years in La Habra, mostly doing research and technical services in rock properties, seismic reservoir monitoring feasibility and seismic lithology. I progressed from an entry-level research geophysicist to senior, then staff, research scientist. I also led a group of seven people for six years as a group leader, managing projects and technology funding.

Chevron decided to close down the La Habra facility in 1999, so I moved 400 miles north to San Ramon, California. There I continued my technical work in rock physics and seismic reservoir monitoring for another two years. During the ChevronTexaco merger in 2001, I was asked if I was interested in a management position. After some serious thinking, I said yes, so I was selected to my current position as manager of earth science competency and personnel.

You received the 2002 SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for the work you and Mike Batzle did on estimation of elastic properties of pore-fluid saturations. How does it feel to receive this prestigious award?

I never felt it was a big deal but at the same time I am grateful to the person or persons who nominated us and the Award Committee for recognizing our work. The work was based on a couple of chapters in my Ph.D. thesis. When I was at Stanford, I often ran into the problem of having to assume the elastic properties for pore fluids when modelling rock properties with fluid saturation. When Carol Tosaya measured seismic velocities in heavy oil sands, she found huge velocity decreases with temperature increases, which no theory could explain. I modified the experimental system by creating a pore fluid reservoir inside the heating chamber. The resulting velocity decreases with increasing temperature in heavy oil sands were not as dramatic as Carol’s results but they were still very large. They were hard to explain because at that time most geophysicists believed that oil and water had similar elastic properties. So I started measuring the velocities and densities of pure hydrocarbons and crude oils as functions of temperature and pressure. I first measured a crude oil sample from the Duri oil field in Indonesia. The result showed that as temperature increased from room temperature to 125o C, velocity in the oil decreased by almost 40%. Amos and I got excited because this would explain the results with heavy oil sands. Amos took the results and gave a presentation at Chevron’s research centre. When he showed the velocity decreases, one famous geophysicist was really upset as he insisted that the results were wrong. He believed that water and oil had the same elastic properties.

So did this lead you to your study on fluid properties?

Yes, this prompted me to do more measurements on crude oil samples and pure hydrocarbon samples. I presented some results at the annual rock physics consortium meeting. After my presentation, Mike Batzle and Nader Dutta of ARCO came to me saying that they were working on similar problems and said “since we cannot beat you, while don’t we buy you” and they offered me a summer internship!

The internship was really enjoyable. Mike and I worked hard together for three months and we produced a lot of data and results. After several rounds of writing and rewriting, Mike and I decided to submit the results to GEOPHYSICS in 1990. Two out of the four reviewers recommended a rejection but Jim Justice, who was the associate editor, asked us to revise it. We had to revise the manuscript two or three times until it was finally accepted.

The reason I am saying all this is to tell young researchers that if you truly believe in your research results and their potential value to the industry or society, don’t give up. The key is to make your work readable and understandable, even for nonexperts. Once people understand what you are trying to say and the value of your work, they will accept it. As long as your results create value, you will be recognized eventually.

In the citation that Amos Nur has written for you, he remarks that you are an “accidental” geophysicist. Could you explain that?

What Amos meant was that I myself never wanted to become a geophysicist. In fact, when I was admitted to college to major in geophysics, I had no clue what it was. When I filled in the college application form, I had four choices: I could apply to three majors in three schools or accept whatever the government assigned me. I was desperate to get out of the village after three years of working in the field and living with no electricity, no machinery, no clocks and no bicycles. So I did not fill in any school or major and when I was admitted to college I was assigned to major in geophysics.

Zee Wang

After four years of college, I was admitted to Stanford to study rock physics. To be honest, I had no clue what rock physics was, even after a year at Stanford. In my humble opinion, many of life’s destinations are reached by accident. You may plan whatever you want but you need to change when necessary. It’s great to set goals and work hard to reach them, but don’t forget to take breaks occasionally and see if circumstances have changed and if you, along with your goals, need to change.

Tell us about some of your success stories.

I never thought of myself as being successful so I don’t have a lot of success stories. However, I work hard, observe a lot, like whatever I do and try to improve what I have or whatever I do. I truly believe that to succeed you must have integrity, be honest to others and yourself, like what you do and work hard. I was very poor but I never gave up. I tried to read whatever I could find so that when opportunities finally came, I was ready.

I try to teach my teenage son that the fine line separating smart people and not-so-smart people is that smart people recognize opportunities and are ready when they come. I guess I grabbed several key opportunities, if you view that as success. The first opportunity was, of course, getting out of the village and the second one was studying in the U.S. At that point, my four-years of hard work in college paid off. These two events totally changed my life.

Any nightmare experiences?

Yes, many. The most memorable two were an incident that happened in my village and my failing the Ph.D. oral exam. The first nightmare was an argument with the communist boss in the village because he accepted bribes and assigned three of my high school classmates, who were far behind me academically, to teach at the village’s elementary school. I was not happy with the decision because I had graduated from high school at the top of my class. I was physically beaten so that I bled and later I was assigned to clean the school’s washrooms. I became depressed for several days and my mom hid everything at home that might be used for suicide because the teen suicide rate was very high in the villages. That event forced me to work harder, learn more and prepare for any opportunities to get out of the village.

The second nightmare was that I failed my Ph.D. oral exam. That really forced me to change and adjust and to develop communication skills. The lesson I learned is that no matter how smart you are or how many great results or products you have worked out, if you don’t communicate them to others, people will not know your value and you will certainly not be recognized.

Tell us about your work assignment now and your responsibilities.

It’s a challenging assignment as I had been a technical guy throughout my career until the ChevronTexaco merger. When I became a manager there were a lot of new skills to learn and to develop. I have been working really hard and learning a lot from many seasoned managers. I am really enjoying my job. In management, you face a different set of challenges from those in technical work. My current job responsibility is mostly earth science personnel development, which includes recruiting and hiring, career management, performance assessment and salary administration, training and mentoring, etc. We recruit from about 30 campuses and hire many earth scientists every year. I represent the technology company, ChevronTexaco Energy Technology, on the corporation’s Earth Science Professional Development Committee. This committee facilitates the career management process for the company’s earth scientists and fills open earth science jobs. I also lead the technology company’s earth science professional development committee and facilitate the annual performance assessment and salary administration process for the Subsurface Characterization Technology Department. So as you can see, I am all over the place and it’s a tough job.

What is the most exciting aspect of your job?

Helping people and helping the company to access talents to meet its business needs. Although I am not the only one making decisions in hiring and career management, I always try to make sure the best talent is hired and high performance employees are recognized. The other aspect of my current job is the opportunity to work with many people I would not normally meet. We send about 60-70 earth science recruiters to campuses and professional society annual meetings and job fairs. I interact a lot with them. The Professional Development Committee members are all senior managers from the business units and I routinely interact with them, learning their businesses, challenges and management skills. This gives me a big picture perspective on the company’s strategies, businesses and challenges. The job also requires a lot of interaction with graduate students. I always feel some sense of accomplishment when I am able to help them, either landing them a job or giving them advice. I have also been giving advice and mentoring a lot of people in their early career years.

Although you said you don’t think of yourself as being successful, you clearly are. What would you ascribe this to – tremendous amount of self-belief, hard work, the ability to dream big or something else?

If I have to answer, I would say it’s a combination of several qualities: integrity, self-belief, honesty, passion, hard work and knowing myself. When I was stuck in the village, I dreamed of becoming a village teacher and getting out of there one day but I never dreamed I would come to the U.S. After all, the U.S. was China’s number one enemy at that time. What I am saying here is that you can, and should, dream, but don’t forget reality.

I like having solid goals. My advice to young people is to set your goal high and work toward it but do your current job well so you have a solid footing in what you are doing.

I truly believe in integrity. You must have high standards of ethics and you must be honest, reliable and unselfish so that people can trust and rely on you.

What has been the most difficult challenge of your life?

Besides the challenge I faced after high school, the biggest challenges have been the cultural differences between the western and eastern worlds and communication. I came to the U.S. at the age of 25. My brain was already hard- wired with Chinese culture, philosophy and values. To succeed in a different culture, you need to understand the value system of the culture, not just the history. For example, Chinese culture tells you that you must be modest, which is sometimes interpreted to mean that you must hide your ambitions and your achievements. We were always taught to obey our parents at home, teachers in school and the boss at work. We were not encouraged to express our opinions in front of superiors or the elderly and we were not supposed to challenge others’ thoughts. Chinese culture also tends to value status or titles, not necessarily money. I think it’s important for people from eastern cultures to learn western cultures so that they can immerse into the system. At the same time, if you manage these people in your organization, you need to understand their value system to keep them motivated and productive. Everyone has his/her own value system; and if you don’t understand these, you are not going to be effective managing these people and, in turn, your business.

What is your professional goal now?

My goal is to stay on the management track as it gives me a different type of challenge. I don’t know what my next assignment is but I am sure it will be something different from my current position so that I can be challenged and, at the same time, learn new things and develop new skills.

Who were some of your mentors?

I never had official mentors but I do ask for help whenever needed. Many people have helped me throughout my life, in the village and in college. At and after Stanford, Amos has been giving me a lot of advice, so I guess I can call him a mentor. At work, I get help and advice from many people, including senior managers, employees and friends. I think the key is to keep an open mind – always ask for feedback and input from others. You don’t have to completely follow what they tell you but you need to get their perspective. There are a lot of experienced people around you and most people are willing to help when asked. The biggest mistake I often made, and still see many people making early in their careers, was that I either assumed that everyone was busy and had no time to help me or I did not want to bother people. I found later on that I was absolutely wrong. Now when I mentor people, I always tell them to seek help when needed.

Application of rock physics in reservoir characterization is one area that interests you and the Stanford group is well known for that. In your opinion, how much of this work have we adopted in our routine reservoir characterization. What more needs to be done?

We have made tremendous headway in applying rock physics data, theories and models in reservoir characterization. I think rock physics studies initiated, or at least helped initiate, seismic reservoir monitoring, especially 4D seismology. I think fluid substitution has become routine in seismic reservoir characterization, deriving reservoir properties from seismic data, 4D or time-lapse seismic reservoir monitoring and petrophysical analysis. Rock physics data and correlations are being used routinely in seismic data interpretation to derive porosity, rock type and pore fluid type.

I think, however, there is a lot more to be done. First, we need to have more people understand rock physics and its applications. Rock physics is specialized and it involves data gathering via experiments. In industry very few people can spot wrong data as measured by a vendor or university lab. Even worse, some people extrapolate theories or models beyond their applicability. I have seen wrong data being gathered and published. Many students are reluctant to do lengthy experiments nowadays because it takes a long time to graduate and it is hard to find a job after graduation. I proposed to a couple of earth science departments to integrate rock physics in their geophysics program so that seismologists have rock physics experience or rock physicists have seismic experience. Graduates with good seismic and rock physics skills are hard to find and in high demand, simply because rock physics experience and knowledge are needed in many phases of seismic data interpretation and application. I think all development geophysicists should be heavily trained in rock physics.

I would like your comments on seismic reservoir monitoring. What are the issues facing us there and how do you think we can get over them?

I believe that seismic reservoir monitoring, along with other monitoring practices, will continue to have a high impact in the future. However, I have to caution that being overly optimistic on any technology can lead to hype. Seismic reservoir monitoring has its own limitations – physical feasibility, data quality, frequency content, bandwidth, repeatability, interpretation, etc. I remember that at an SEG workshop on 4D, some people said that 4D is a no-brainer - you “just do it”. I stood up and said, no, you cannot just do it. You need to first understand the rock and fluid physics and reservoir history and processes before you go out and shoot another seismic survey. Yes, many reservoirs are good candidates for 4D but many others are not.

What are the issues? I think that besides the physical limitations, the number one issue is cost versus benefit. For mature on- shore fields drilling costs are low, so seismic reservoir monitoring may not bring a lot of extra financial benefits to the operating unit. I think seismic reservoir monitoring can make huge impact in deepwater fields where drilling costs are high. If monitoring can identify by-passed oil and guide the drilling program, the benefits are obvious. I think seismic reservoir monitoring in deepwater fields, if physically feasible, will pay off costs by many folds.

The other issue I think facing seismic reservoir monitoring is the final products geophysicists deliver to the field operations people, who are mostly engineers. You need to deliver something that is readily usable by the engineers, not just a pretty amplitude anomaly map or a difference cube. To do this, you need to transform seismic anomalies to something engineers can understand, namely, porosity, fluid change, pressure change, etc. Furthermore, there is a strong need to integrate the disciplines and make sure people from different technical backgrounds are speaking the same language and can understand each other.

You are the editor/co-editor of three SEG reprint books on seismic and acoustic velocities. What drew you to book writing? Any more on the horizon?

I have no book on the horizon – as much as I want to write another book, I simply do not have time. I spend about 65 hours a week on my job and I need to spend time with my kids as they are growing up so quickly. I started writing a book in Chinese based on my personal struggle and experiences but I have finished only about a third of it. I posted the introduction and outline on my website at Stanford and have received numerous inquiries from many people I don’t even know asking when will I finish the book. I feel embarrassed now for not being able to deliver the product (smile).

Zee Wang

I started editing the first volume of Seismic and Acoustic Velocities in Reservoir Rocks while I was at Stanford. I proposed to Amos that we edit a book for the SEG. Amos liked the idea and it turned out to be a great experience. Not only did it force me to summarize and systemize what I had learned and what I had done in rock physics but also I made a lot of friends through the process. I got to know big names like Frank Levin and many people at the SEG office. It made me a more well-rounded rock physicist and writing itself was a learning process.

After the first volume was published in 1989, it sold pretty well so I started working on the second volume on theories and models, which was published in 1992. I published the third volume in 2000, which summarized recent development to date.

In your opinion, what is the future of upstream petroleum?

I think the future looks good but it does not mean the upstream industry does not have challenges. Although some people predict that the peak of world oil production may not come in the near future, the oil production per capita in the world reached its peak back in 1979. While the demand for energy keeps increasing, reserve replacement is a big challenge for the petroleum industry. Where do we find the replacement reserves? How can we improve oil recovery to squeeze more out of the existing fields? Although oil prices have increased quite a bit in the last 3 years, petroleum and petroleum products are still relatively cheap. A gallon of gasoline now costs slightly more than a gallon of bottled water. Alternative energy needs to be competitive in price before it will be widely accepted. As a result, I think this is a good time to get into earth sciences. I believe another generation of employment in the oil industry is safe for sure.

How do you think we can manage the ups and downs in the industry more effectively?

Through longer term planning. Companies, not just oil companies, are too short-sighted and too focussed on short-term results. They tend to follow economic cycles in terms of managing their businesses and people. In the early 1980’s, oil and service companies hired almost anyone they could grab from the street. When the down turn came, companies froze hiring and fired as many as 50% of their people. That’s not long-term planning or cost-effective. The current demographic challenge facing the oil industry is a direct consequence of the hiring freeze in the 1990’s.

What are your other interests?

I am always trying to learn something new. I like sports and music. Sports not only make me a healthier person but also remind me that I need to be competitive in order to succeed, driving me to learn new things and develop new skills at and away from work. So I have been trying my best to find time to play table tennis or basketball during lunch time or on weekends.

I don’t play any instruments but I like classical music – the kids always complain that this is the reason I have been forcing them to practise the piano, the violin and the viola. I read a lot of books on classical music and composers. Listening to music not only stimulates my thinking and, hopefully, creativity but also helps me relax. I have collected about 1200 classical music CDs so far, from John Adams to Nikolai Znaider.

You have generously volunteered your services for the SEG. How has this helped you in your professional development?

Since the time I edited the first volume of Seismic and Acoustic Velocities in Reservoir Rocks, I have been volunteering a lot of my personal time to the SEG. Although my employer and my bosses have been really supportive, I always feel that I should use as little company time and resources as possible. I served as an associate editor for geophysics for seven years and edited probably somewhere around 70-80 manuscripts. Each manuscript took me at least two full weekends. However, the benefits were tremendous as it forced me to learn and understand what the authors had done. I also helped to organize two SEG annual meetings, two regional meetings in China and some workshops. During the process I made a lot of friends. In 1999, I was elected as the SEG’s second vice president. Serving one year on the SEG executive committee was a great experience. It helped me understand the SEG business and the challenges facing the Society, and to network with many SEG members and the office staff. I was also nominated as a candidate for the SEG president in 2002 but did not get elected. Losing the election may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise since it gave me time to focus on my ChevronTexaco job where I had just become a manager with tough assignments. I could not imagine how I would have handled two jobs being a novice manager in ChevronTexaco and also SEG president. So as you can see, sometimes losing is not all bad (smile).

I think the biggest reward of volunteering your time to a professional society is that you get the opportunity to know people. Some friends joked with me that I was running an underground network and it seems that everyone knows me and I know everyone, especially at the SEG. The other thing, which I think is equally important, is that serving a professional society gives you opportunities to build up your credibility and credentials. I think credibility, not only technical credibility, but also personal credibility, call it integrity if you like, is very important for a professional. When you have credibility, people tend to trust you and value your opinions and, furthermore, people can rely on you.

What advice would you have for young entrants in our industry?

I would repeat the points I made when I answered the question “What does it take to be a successful exploration geophysicist?” I have gone through a lot in my first 40-something years. I think I have seen and experienced a lot but, at the same time, I don’t want to speak and act like an old statesman. I think a lot of young folks can learn from other people’s experiences to avoid the same mistakes. Wouldn’t it be great if human beings didn’t repeat the mistakes made a generation or generations ago? I recently read an article in the July 2004 issue of Physics Today. It was written by a retired professor on the lessons he had learned throughout his career. A lot of mistakes he made were very similar to those I had made. I recommended the article to a lot of young folks in ChevronTexaco and I would recommend it to your readers. The article is available on the web at

Here is the advice I would like to give to young folks: have passion in what you do; constantly learn, create, apply and share; network and communicate; get help, volunteer and help others.

In order to succeed you must have passion for what you do. When you have passion for something, you are willing to put a lot of effort into it and then you are very likely to succeed.

Learn, create, apply and share. You must keep learning to be on top of new developments and technologies. You must be creative and apply and practise your learning and knowledge to create value. You must also share your knowledge and experience.

Network and communicate. Everyone seems to know everyone else in the oil industry so make friends. No matter how intelligent you are, you will need help from others to succeed. No matter how many great ideas you have and how many great products you create, they have no value if others do not know of their existence or do not use them. So you must communicate. Some people tend to think this is selling but when you really think about it, aren’t we selling ourselves everyday? Our images, skills, ideas…?

Get help, volunteer and help others. Make sure you go and find help if needed. A common mistake young folks tend to make is trying to solve every problem themselves. As I said, there are a lot of resources available. Volunteering can reward you big time in many ways. Although sometimes you may not see the rewards immediately, the experience will be really valuable. However, don’t over commit yourself if you are struggling with your job or life.

Zee, thank you very much for giving us your time.

I hope I have not said too much, but if revealing my experiences can help one person, just one, to avoid the mistakes I made, or inspire one person to succeed, I would be really happy. Thank you again for this opportunity.


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