New YPs on the block

Change at the Top: Meet Some New YP Leads

The seasons are changing – and so is the Young Professionals Committee.

First, the reason for our changes: For the past several years we have enjoyed the participation of Middle East Region YP Lead Anwar Al-Beaiji, Africa Region YP Lead Tunbosun Afolayan and Rocky Mountain Section YP Lead Cat Campbell. As they move on to other roles within the Association we thank them for their service to AAPG and unwavering commitment to YP initiatives.

As part of this transition, we’re also happy to welcome to the committee Aisha Bulushi of the Middle East Region; Akintunde Okuboyejo of the Africa Region; and Julian Abbott-Whitley of the Rocky Mountain Section.

I recently had the opportunity to get to know our new YP leads and discuss their plans to boost YP involvement in AAPG in their respective Regions.

Judging from their responses, the mantle of YP leadership has been placed on some very capable shoulders.

Faber: What led you to a career in the geosciences?

Bulushi: I chose to be a geophysicist because I always loved physics and natural sciences at school. I received a bachelor’s degree in geophysics from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and then advanced my studies by completing a master’s degree in petroleum geophysics at Imperial College, London. After that, I could not wait to apply my knowledge to real world problems, so I eagerly joined the QI team at Petroleum Development Oman Company.

Okuboyejo: To be perfectly honest, my journey into the geosciences started as an accident.

In my family, in order to be looked upon as human, you either had to be an engineer or a doctor. So, as the last of seven children (all engineers and doctors, of course), my career was pretty much a done deal even before I was born. True to form, my favorite subjects in high school were mathematics and physics, and when I graduated I applied and took the tests for a degree in mechanical engineering.

While awaiting my results, an old professor friend of my father’s (a strange bearded man who always referred to rocks as if they were living things) convinced him to allow me to take an undergraduate-level geology course in the state university where he lectured, just for the fun of it.

Fate had intervened and yanked me from an inevitable world of numbers and decimal points and plunged me into the unbelievably exciting world of discovery known as earth sciences. It was love at first sight, and I haven’t looked back since.

The fact that I could make a living doing what I loved only served as an added bonus.

Abbott-Whitley: I always have been interested in math, science and computers. My undergraduate degree in environmental science had an emphasis on GIS, which I found to be an amazing application of the three disciplines.

Faber: Why did you first become involved with AAPG?

Bulushi: At SQU, I first learned about AAPG when I was an active member in the AAPG-SEG Geo Group and we had membership campaigns in the department. Then, in 2010, I participated in the first Middle East IBA (Imperial Barrel Award) competition and received second place in the Region.

Okuboyejo: I became a student member of the AAPG while studying for a master’s degree in petroleum geosciences at Imperial College, London. I moved back to Nigeria and joined Shell immediately afterward. Since then, I have been participating in AAPG activities.

Abbott-Whitley: I have been attending events hosted by AAPG for about three years in order to expand my knowledge of the oil and gas industry while extending my professional network.

Faber: How did you learn about the Young Professionals Committee?

Bulushi: It all started with an invitation from Said Al-Hajri (current AAPG-MER president) and Anwar Al-Beaiji (YPSS chairman and IBA coordinator) to attend AAPG Leadership Days in Tulsa in July 2013.

Okuboyejo: I learned about the exciting work the Young Professionals Committee have been doing within and outside Nigeria from the outgoing Africa Region YP Lead – Tunbosun Afolayan. She also is a colleague at Shell Nigeria, and introduced me to several committee members, from whom I have learned a great deal from in a very short time.

Abbott-Whitley: I have been working with Cat Campbell for about a year now. She introduced me to the group.

Faber: Why did you volunteer for this committee position?

Bulushi: Becoming the YPSS co-chair and YP lead will allow me to build confidence and communicate with all levels of geoscientists in my Region and worldwide.

Okuboyejo: My time in Shell has afforded me the opportunity to liaise with geoscience undergraduates and young professionals in the industry in Nigeria. While attending the various workshops, seminars and student outreach programs I recognized the need for a platform upon which YPs could share ideas and network. When I heard that the position of YP Lead would soon be vacant, I jumped at the opportunity to lead and champion the YP cause.

From a personal standpoint, a leadership role in a recognizable and prestigious organization like the AAPG would further enable me to develop my leadership skills, expand my knowledge, establish new networking relationships and improve my organizational skills.

Abbott-Whitley: I want to become more involved within my professional network, and I feel that networking is an essential part of career development. Being a part of a group such as the Young Professionals provides that stream of regular communication.

Faber: What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as Region/Section YP lead?

Bulushi: It is my goal to see the Middle East shine as a Region with a reputation for capable geoscientists. Through my roles as YPSS co-chair and YP lead, I will strive to accomplish this goal because I believe in the abilities of young professionals and students in the Region.

Okuboyejo: During my time as the Africa Region YP lead, I would like to see the number of YPs in AAPG in my Region equal (and possibly surpass) that of other established organizations (like the SPE) by generating interest in our activities.

This will not be an easy task because the catchment area of the SPE is far wider than that of the AAPG.

However, I do believe with targeted and focused activities, including direct engagement with universities, colleges and the industry, we can achieve this goal.

Abbott-Whitley: I hope to generate continued interaction among Young Professionals in the Denver community and in the Rocky Mountain Section.

Have a question for the YPs – or want to get involved with YP activities? Visit the young professionals website and/or email your Section or Region representative.

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GEO 2014 Boasts YP Emphasis

Young professionals will be an important part of the program for GEO 2014, set March 9-12 at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Center.

GEO 2014 is the largest geosciences technical event in the Middle East. Organized by AAPG, EAGE and SEG, this year’s theme is “Taking Geoscience Beyond the Conventional.”

GEO’s emphasis on young professionals stems from the first steps of the event’s planning – each partnering society nominated a young professional to help create a program and events that would be useful and of interest to YPs.

This resulted in a plethora of professional development opportunities.

One example of that is the YP Meet-n-Greet, set for March 10, which will give YPs a chance to meet and network with industry veterans.

Another YP event will be a guided tour of the exhibits hall, offering specific opportunities to meet with companies interested in hiring new geoscience talent.

More details about these events and the entire GEO program can be found online at geo2014.com.

Also online registration open – and those who register before Feb. 7 can receive for “early bird” discounts.


Want to know more about YP activities in your area? Visit our website and contact your Region or Section representative.