Regions and sections
James Agbenorto, right, with Carol McGowen, AAPG Sections and Regions Manager
Greetings! On behalf of AAPG Africa Region and on my own behalf, I wish to congratulate the Chair, officers and entire HoD for immense contributions to AAPG goals. We appreciate your well-coordinated roles to fulfill our legislative functions within the AAPG Constitution and Bylaws.
Thank you, delegates, for faithfully supporting AAPG’s goals and programs the world over.
I live and work in Tema, Ghana, as Lead Geologist of the National Oil Company, GNPC. As AAPG Region President, I also help point the way amid a dedicated team of volunteers (Leaders). Our leadership style is one, whereby we work and learn together, building on our collective strengths and experiences for AAPG work.
I first served Africa Region as delegate (2004-07) and currently as President. Both positions have been exciting and challenging. Challenges arise from two aspirations: fulfilling the corporate mission of a national company, and advancing geology from an international (AAPG) perspective. AAPG leadership roles have indeed added honor, responsibility and color to my life, with great opportunities to represent my Region and help build AAPG.
Africa Region membership is currently 2,008. Following online Officer Elections in April-May 2008, we constituted a diverse Leadership (as below) with international character. This diversity has become the hallmark of both our sharing and teambuilding efforts for a common objective: advancement through teamwork and diversity. We live and work in Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and the USA.
- President: James Agbenorto
- Vice-President: Haddou Jabour
- President-Elect: Nosa Omorodian
- Secretary/Treasurer: Adedoja Ojelabi
- HoD Delegates:
- Bayo Akinpelu
- Bill Bosworth
- Almoundir Morabet
- Varsha Singh
- Advisory Council: Joe Ejedawe
AAPG Sections & Regions Manager, Carol McGowen, organized our first orientation teleconference on May 8, 2008. It was very useful to all parties, and has since become a monthly practice. Region leaders and members have since been making AAPG more visible on our continent, in work places, among colleagues, friends and families. Reason? – because we believe and hope in a strong future and a globally competitive AAPG.
We have reviewed and updated our Region Business Plan 2008-10, originally conceived by our predecessors. For 2008-09, we have six priority tasks; the first two have been achieved; the rest are at various stages of execution:
- Build Region membership database.
- Travel plans/expenses for the AAPG 28th Annual Leadership Conference (Tulsa, OK) and Africa Region Meeting (Cape Town, RSA).
- Create Region e-newsletter/website.
- Establish country-representation for AAPG membercountries in Africa.
- Organize 2009 IBA Regional and global competitions.
- Plan/implement (Active) membership recruitment efforts.
Today, AAPG is going through the threshold/challenges of corporate structural transformation and globalization.We in Africa recognize the need for renewed growth and development of high levels of inter-/intra-regional interaction. Our focus is to build/rebuild Region infrastructure to match this transformation and provide contact points for this renewal and growth. Africa Region is committed to working with the HoD and other AAPG arms of governance to achieve desired results.
I wish through this medium, The Delegates’ Voice, to encourage every AAPG member to help move AAPG forward and make our transformation a refreshing reality. As Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” We all can and should make AAPG more dynamic and influential throughout our world. We should enliven our mission/ purpose more clearly – advancing geological science, fostering scientific research, promoting technology and encouraging high ethical standards in our professional practice.
As we usher in the New Year, great opportunities are opening before us. All of us are being inspired to walk AAPG into a more positive, prosperous future. In this hope, I wish us great success to advance our career aspirations and to offer targeted dedication, contribution and leadership to our great organization.
I sincerely wish you all a wonderfully prosperous New Year 2009!
Membership, Under the Influence
During the 2008 AAPG ICE in Cape Town, South Africa, in November, I gave a presentation to the leadership of the AAPG Africa Region analyzing the membership situation within the region and discussing what we need to do to get more scientists interested in joining. One slide illustrated the benefits of AAPG membership – from networking and career development to advocacy and influencing public policy. Another slide showed that the most common reasons for joining were products and services; satisfying a need – passion or interest; and opportunities.
While this may be important for most people, the truth is that I joined the AAPG because I was under the influence….. of my mentor, Mr. Bayo Akinpelu, at that time, my boss and the Exploration Manager of Chevron Nigeria.
I have certainly benefited immensely from my membership of AAPG, but at the point when I mailed my application form, I was not thinking about those things. I was just trying to find my feet, and getting comfortable with the thought that I could actually have a career in geology. I did not have a road map, but I had a mentor. What I wanted most was to be like him professionally – learned, intellectual, capable and very much on top of his field.
My boss liked to read, and as far as geology was concerned, AAPG articles were cutting edge. He also liked to discuss what he had read, so to keep up, I had to read the Bulletins myself, even if I barely understood what I was reading! In time, I discovered petroleum geology, sedimentology, geochemistry and structural geology for myself and I developed a sense of what it was to be a geologist. I inhabited the world of Peter Vail, Gus Archie, Ebi Omatsola, Urban Allan and Odzogan Yilmaz.
It was a short leap from borrowing Mr. Akinpelu’s AAPG Bulletins to wanting my own, and learning that my company (Chevron) would pay for my membership, I applied and became an AAPG member in 1995. I have since then presented and co-authored oral and poster papers at AAPG conferences because I was challenged by the professionals who are my role models and mentors. I have found the professional development invaluable in my career as an Earth Scientist.
In 2004, I was elected a House of Delegate representative and was privileged to speak on the floor of the House in 2006 in Long Beach, CA, in support of the graduated dues structure. That amendment now affords many geoscientists with low earning capacity, particularly across Africa, an opportunity to develop and share their capacity for creative thinking and knowledge – an opportunity offered me many years ago by my mentor.
As the Secretary/Treasurer for the AAPG Africa Region, I am very excited to be part of a leadership team that is committed to reaching out to as many qualified people as possible across Africa, affording them an opportunity to live in the minds of the people who publish in the Explorer, the AAPG Bulletins, and who are networking at AAPG events.
Some of the challenges of membership recruitment within the Africa region include:
- Payment of dues: Graduated dues addresses ability to pay for many people, but some individuals still struggle on low wages
- How to pay (limited online access, credit card facilities, etc.): Many countries in Africa are cash-based and online payment methods are limited and not available to a large majority of the population.
- Change of address for members listed in other regions: Many members are listed in other regions, particularly the USA, because of company affiliations.
- Communication difficulties within the region and with the headquarters in Tulsa, OK, often due to different time zones.
The Africa Region leadership is focused on addressing these challenges by:
- Encouraging a system of bulk payment of membership dues through partnerships with affiliated societies, student chapters, universities and company sponsorships (e.g. Chevron pays for student members worldwide)
- Getting the word out -
- Africa region executives to act as sponsors within their geographic areas
- E-newsletter and regional website, mass e-mailing
- Participating in Africa region events and activities e.g. the IBA program, conferences, job fairs, exhibitions, road trips
- Elect Country representatives to act as contacts, particularly in countries with low membership
- Encouraging graduates to retain their membership and to change status from student to active status
- Distinguished Lecture Program sponsored by the Africa Region
- Shortening turn-around time from associate to active status
- Identifying area contacts to assist delegates in verification and references, where members are few
- Prompt verification by delegates and prompt feedback on status of application
- Regional executives and country representatives to sponsor student chapters
- Inform members on process for region change
- Designate Africa Region executive or membership officer to help with membership matters.
My mentor has now retired, but it still gives me great pleasure to see him at AAPG events and other professional meetings. I now aspire to be a role model, influencing others to join the AAPG and help to maintain a high level of professionalism and commitment to the earth science profession. At least I know it is possible!