Why Join SPWLA?


The following are some excerpts from an article that appears in the Spring/Summer 2002 Baker Atlas's Field Print Magazine. Click here for a pdf of the entire article Membership has its Privileges.

Professional societies supply a forum for like-minded individuals in which an exchange of ideas and information can take place. Joining a professional society, such as the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA), is beneficial for engineers, geologists, and other professionals throughout their entire careers.

Besides keeping up with emerging technology, professional societies offer members the opportunity to establish contacts with other operating and service companies with whom they can share experiences and seek advice, not to mention building friendships with people who share common goals, concerns, and perspectives. Professional societies contain a veritable wealth of information available through conferences, meetings, online, publications, and presentations. Members may also publish papers to establish individual reputation and to stimulate discussion on topics of importance to the industry. Bottom line, professional societies allows members to excel in their performance and optimize profits for their employers and clients making membership a win-win situation for everyone.

Profile Building at the Local, National and International Level

Andy Shaw, Communications manager for Baker Atlas, says, ?Participation in professional societies is important because of the profile that it creates for people. Publishing papers, participation at local society meetings, and making presentations help to reinforce and validate the quality of our employees, the capability of our people, and our company. Publishing at the annual technical conferences and meetings is very important because of the peer review that occurs on the papers and the kudos that are received for technical advances."

Jeremy Prosser, Baker Atlas Asia Pacific Geoscience manager, says, "Society meetings are an important source of business intelligence. Not only will you learn about new technology and new analytical techniques, but the programs also give insight into current industry business drivers, where competitors have been investing their technology dollars, and where they have been applying their services. Participation by academic institutions is normally pretty high, and this may provide a glimpse of the future in terms of current academic research, and generate some new ideas for your own business. The process is, of course, two-way. By actively participating you also help to promote and raise the profile of your own company."

Sharing Knowledge and Education

Another major benefit of participating in a professional society is the opportunity to connect with peers to discuss issues, ideas, resources, and experiences. Allen Gilchrist, Baker Nuclear chief scientist and former SPWLA president, says, "A primary purpose of professional societies, such as the SPWLA, is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among professionals in various aspects of formation evaluation, exploration, and production of hydrocarbons. This can be done through papers and presentations, or at the trade shows or exhibitions that usually accompany society meetings.

States Bruce Bernard, a consultant who was formerly a vice president for Shell International Ventures and the 2001 past president of the SPE, ?Professional societies offer unique resources to you and your business. They offer global technology and best practice networks, online databases of technical papers, electronic discussion groups, fill training gaps, peer recognition of your work and commitment, low risk opportunities to practice and develop personal leadership capabilities, local/regional and global dimensions, and much more."

Says Richard Merkel, senior petrophysicist for System Technology Associates and a Past-President of SPWLA, "I firmly believe that the main purpose and function of a professional society is the continuing education of it members. These societies are the mechanism to bridge the academic knowledge gained in a university to the applied as well as academic aspects of science and engineering. For the scientist and engineer, universities develop the tools necessary for each career path. Professional societies are designed to maintain the skill level and also to develop the knowledge of how to apply these skills. For SPWLA this is done primarily in four ways?papers in the professional journal, presentations at annual meetings and topical conferences, informal interaction with colleagues and associates at meetings, and exhibitor contacts at annual symposia."

Notes Andy Shaw, Communications Manager for Baker Atlas, "Professional societies are key industry forums for the discussion and technical validation of what our core business is about. That is the techniques and technologies that are designed and engineered to improve formation evaluation, reservoir productivity, and minimize geological risk."

Societies publish a lot of reference material, like journals, reference guides, and books, that are important, especially for up and coming engineers as they try to learn their art and science. Mark Alberty, senior advisor, Petrophysics for BP and current SPWLA president, says, "One major benefit of joining a professional society is the access to support materials, such as paper search engines, copies of papers, membership directories, mnemonic dictionaries, training course schedules, industry calendars, shareware, local chapter notices, and so on."

Networking, Personal Development and Credibility

With local chapters worldwide, professional societies offer a common ground for peers to interact. Membership is an excellent way to establish credibility for new and seasoned professionals alike. Says Stephen Holditch, Schlumberger Fellow and the current 2002 SPE president, "To be a professional and work as a professional, you have to belong to and be active in a professional society. The activity lets one grow technically, ethically, and socially. A good professional society provides the means for a member to advance in their profession. New engineers need to set targets and goals. If those goals include advancement up the technical or management ladder, then belonging to a professional society is a necessity."

Nigel Dodds, Baker Atlas customer service manager and current president of the LPS, states, "I have always been involved in the SPWLA in all of my field locations, taking up positions on the committees where possible. The LPS events give me a very different perspective on petrophysical issues. I get to hear about a wider range of petrophysical issues and solutions than I would otherwise experience. Alberty concurs, ?A professional society is a critical link between myself and my peers. It is the most important tool I have to assess my skills relative to my peers and to seek out new and improved methods to accomplish my job. Without this critical link, I cannot effectively improve my performance and value to my employer."

Says Merkel, "Maintaining contacts and interacting with colleagues who are working on similar projects is just as important as understanding the theory behind the latest tool development. Not only have I learned the direction my profession is headed through society interaction, but also have had some influence, although likely minor, in the course that it will take by discussing problems and possible solutions with colleagues."

Notes Dodds, "I thoroughly enjoy the society, but it is important to get involved. Don?t just join for the sake of being able to quote this on your CV or resum?. Attend the meetings and if possible, take an active role in managing the society. I find that the intellectual element is stimulating, and it definitely broadens your horizons in this industry.? Merkel concurs, ?Anyone can join a professional society so long as they can pass the membership requirements. However, in order to capitalize on the membership, one needs to participate. Like so many other things we do in life, we get out no more that we put in. Accordingly, I encourage bright new scientists and engineers to not only join societies on a local and international level, but to participate in them by volunteering for committee duty to maintain and grow the society. This is a sure way to maximize the benefits offered by the organization."

Gilchrist continues, "Professional societies are especially important for those who are new to the industry. Various short courses, workshops, and topical conferences are offered by professional societies throughout the year. These can be a valuable addition to formal academic training or in-house training. Local chapter or section meetings provide opportunities to meet, share ideas, and develop relationships with clients in your area, and larger meetings provide a national or international experience."

Holditch implores, "Once you are a member, become active. Do not go to meetings to sit and listen. Write papers and go to meetings to be a participant. If you write papers and make presentations, people begin to recognize you as a professional. It opens doors to new assignments and opportunities that you will never see by sitting on the sidelines."  Alberty says, "I have learned improved techniques to accomplish my job, my personal technical strengths and weaknesses, and where opportunities exist to introduce new solutions to old problems."

Bernard sums it up best when he says, "This industry is first and foremost about people, not the assets and reserves which they convert to products. Professional societies have broadened my perspective and enabled me to meet so many people who I would have never encountered otherwise. This network, over 30 years, has turned out to be my most valuable one in so many business situations and has enabled me to practice and learn skills needed for career development and long-term personal fulfillment."