Over the last 11 issues of the EXPLORER I tried to keep the President's Column tightly focused and short enough to encourage you to read it. (However, I was unsuccessful in challenging past AAPG President Marlan Downey in that regard!)
Because this final column by me is largely a report, it will be longer than usual; the Executive Committee (EC), indeed, has been very productive.
I wrote in the July 2004 EXPLORER that this EC "will leave no stone unturned seeking positive new opportunities and expanding the Association's ongoing good business/service lines." I also indicated that working with staff, "the EC will trim or eliminate those activities and programs that have diminishing or poor value …"
In developing initiatives to fulfill these commitments the EC drew heavily on its extensive collective AAPG experience.
We also took into consideration elements of the evolving Strategic Plan. Perhaps the most quantitative data of use to us was "Exploring Member Attitudes," the all-member questionnaire survey done in early 2003.
AAPG has many strengths, including:
- Diverse membership.
- Large size (which produces economies of scale).
- Long, well-regarded history.
- Well-managed staff.
- Supportive Foundation.
- An army of volunteers.
However, we have an inherent weakness. Generally members are not as knowledgeable of AAPG and of each other compared with their local affiliated societies and its members. In order to ameliorate this I instituted several improved communications:
- To make the staff and visitors better acquainted with the member leadership I added all EC members' pictures to mine in the headquarters lobby.
- To make future leaders more aware of AAPG, at vice president Neil Hurley's suggestion (and other members' encouragement), I invited four considerably younger members to the Leadership Conference this past February.
- To improve continuity I involved the president-elect in many activities, especially those events scheduled for his presidency e.g., the Paris International Conference and Exhibition, GEO, IPTC, the 2006 Leadership Conference and the Houston annual meeting.
- To make nominees for president-elect better educated in the business of AAPG, I invited them to EC meetings (excused when we were transacting sensitive business).
- To cause greater awareness amongst the EC and other leaders I scheduled EC meetings at four Section meetings, APPEX-Houston (now summer NAPE) and our international conference in Cancun in addition to the required one in conjunction with our Annual Convention in Calgary and the traditional ones at the winter Leadership Conference and on June 30 and July 1.
- To better acquaint members with officer candidates the EC approved increased travel reimbursements so candidates could more easily attend approved AAPG venues. This underscored the expanded policy (now in its third year) of encouraging all officer candidates to speak at four Section meetings and the international conference. (Even with AAPG reimbursement, candidates and/or their companies pay 60-70 percent of campaign costs.)
- To give general membership more opportunity to learn about AAPG, at Treasurer Clint Moore's suggestion, the EC conducted the first Town Hall Meeting in Houston recently.
- To bring more cohesion and better communication to our major student-related activities the Student Focus Ad Hoc Committee was established. Chair Denise Cox leads that effort, and at the Leadership Conference, she was assisted by related committee leaders in presenting an action plan interfacing with student affairs staff coordinator Mike Mlynek. We hope to get more synergy with better communication from this!
Major recent initiatives include:
- The Tactical Operations Committee (upgraded from ad hoc to standing at the April 9 EC meeting), chaired by president-elect Pete Rose, completed the review of the global development directorate (aka convention department) with recommendations and instructions in the report adopted by the EC on Jan. 15.
It is anticipated that the committee will rotate through all directorates over the next two years and continue on a cycle afterwards. This activity is a direct outgrowth of individual members suggesting a management (in addition to the usual financial) audit. Thanks to a well-composed committee and fine leadership we avoided costly outside management evaluations.
- Accelerating and slightly modifying the BULLETIN Reformat Ad Hoc Committee's scheduled changes in distribution of our treasured scientific publication. Effective July 1, the default form of receiving the BULLETIN will be digital, but Active and Associate members may receive hard copy by simple election on their dues statement or by contacting headquarters.
As I wrote in the March EXPLORER, "I am proud that your elected leaders chose not to go ‘cold turkey' on this changeover." Nevertheless, the potential enhancement of the BULLETIN in digital format is an exciting promise of things to come. We will be saving substantial mailing costs by this action. Many thanks to Past President Steve Sonnenberg's leadership and last year's chair, John Lorenz.
Surprise! We're one year ahead of schedule!
- Establishing a Washington, D.C., office to be known as our Geoscience and Energy Office (GEO-DC, not to be confused with the Middle East Conference and Exhibition known as GEO).
As mentioned in the May EXPLORER, member surveys strongly endorse increased activity in governmental affairs. Of the 17 AAPG services surveyed in 2003, it not only ranked fifth, but also had received the least investment of time and money by the Association.
It is time to join other scientific and professional societies with Washington offices. Our connection with AGI will allow a lot of synergy, even though AGI has to confine its activities to a narrow policy path. GEO-DC will have a scientific/professional education style, and not try to compete with the trade associations that are influence-oriented.
- Overhead allocation has been an issue with members involved with AAPG-assisted meetings and other expense areas for some time. Allocation followed a standard broad estimate approach and begged for accuracy.
Thanks to Pete Rose and Clint Moore, working closely with Business Director David Lange and his staff, this problem has been addressed. The new iMIS/Great Plains accounting system allows the detail and has the speed to timely generate allocated overhead on most budget line items. This is a critical improvement in preparing budgets, bids, projections, etc.
The thrust of the committee is to address the issue of possible reform in how the petroleum industry estimates and reports reserves. This is a DPA focus, but all of the Association is directly or indirectly impacted.
Accordingly, the EC is supporting the ongoing committee efforts – an example from a long list of cooperative ventures with our sister societies.
Regarding invitations: All speaking engagements were filled. I was pleased to address numerous AAPG functions and deliver technical talks to five affiliated societies. Various talks were given to students in Mexico, Scotland and at Student Expos in Houston and Norman, Okla.
Conflicts prevented several appearances by me, so I was very appreciative of Vice President Hurley's willingness to more than fill in. Neil gave the inaugural address at APG-India's conference in Khajuraho and was an honored guest and speaker at the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationist's conference in Abuja.
The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) received some long overdue support and recognition. Many thanks to OTC committee chair Dan Orange, vice chair Craig Shipp and the committee itself for their work. Susan Cunningham has been our effective OTC representative, and special recognition is due Claudia Ludwig for her long-time work in the trenches.
We plan to invest more time and energy in OTC in order to expand the geoscience side of the technical sessions. Another example of sister society cooperation, especially appreciated because of the substantial cash flow received!
Finally, thanks to members for the honor of being president.
While an honor, the office is more than that. It involves many responsibilities and obligations, the effective discharge of which is important to the Association. Accordingly, it is a position of trust, supported by six other members of the EC. I thank these folks as a group for their candor, collective judgment, good will and commitment to the Association.
In addition to Neil Hurley's help cited above, he has brought an academic but practical view. Treasurer Clint Moore not only contributed as above but took on many high energy tasks interfacing with staff. His understanding of financials is a real plus. Editor Ernie Mancini had his hands full with the BULLETIN and brought the ad hoc Reformat Committee to near completion. In addition, he quickly produced critical information and language for written testimony I submitted for the Association. Secretary Bob Countryman has probably written more minutes than any other AAPG scribe. Valary Schulz has plenty on her plate as HoD chair, but still managed to contribute substantially to other EC business. President-Elect Pete Rose was very heavily involved throughout the year. He never complained about my delegating so much work, and his reports and recommendations were timely and robust!
Staff has been very supportive of EC activities, even though loaded with so many EC initiatives. All directors were cooperative, and as president I found dealing with staff a very positive experience. Special thanks to Executive Director Rick Fritz and Administrative Manager Regina Gill.
Committee members and leaders, representatives, Section and Region leaders, Foundation Trustees, Advisory Council, House of Delegates and Division leaders make the EC manageable. Thanks to these folks for their contributions.
Again, special appreciation to all those who make our meetings successful. The Cancun International Conference and Exhibition was the most successful in recent years, and the projections for the Annual Convention in Calgary are terrific.
West Texas Intermediate (XOM postings) in July 2002 averaged $26.17 bbl when I was named a candidate and is in the high $40s and lower $50s as I write this. Many call this coincidence, but the result is that our members are experiencing a professional renaissance and the Association is much improved organizationally and financially.
It is a good time to be a member of the Geotribe, and it has been a good time to be the president of the Association, Mil Gracias!