Playmaker Forum Debuts This Month

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

My vision for DPA this year: Empowering geologists to find oil and succeed in business.

Toward that goal, DPA will partner with the AAPG education department to present “The Playmaker Forum,” planned for Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Norris Conference Center in Houston (next to the Hotel Sorella, near Beltway 8 and I-10).

You’ll learn from world-class oil finders and bold marquee playmakers – and you’ll enjoy accessible networking opportunities with industry leaders. All AAPG members can benefit and should know that registration is filling fast.

This program’s topics can be applied right away and will make both experienced and young professionals more valuable to their current employers. Playmaker topics will get you thinking about adding value to upcoming prospect expos, such as NAPE, and to other meetings around the globe.

Attendees will receive course notes, the free DPA book, “Heritage of the Petroleum Geologist,” and continuing education credit.

The one-day program includes a luncheon, two networking breaks and a “Wildcatter Corner” reception.

Speaking of the luncheon, it will feature our keynote speaker, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, who will describe how the Bakken and Woodford plays became game changers for our industry; his success in growing Continental Resources; and his vision for transformation of our national energy resource mix.

(DPA also will honor Hamm for his dedication to our industry with the presentation of its Heritage Award.)

Please join us, bring a colleague and/or invite your energy industry friends. This program can be a career booster to young professionals via interaction with experienced mentors and exposure to advanced prospecting and presentation skills.

What’s the real value of membership in AAPG’s Division of Professional Affairs?

Rick Fritz (DPA membership chair), Valary Schulz (DPA president-elect), David Curtiss (AAPG executive director) and I recently discussed the reasons AAPG members join DPA. It was easy for us to list DPA’s “deliverables,” such as peer-reviewed global certification, great education events, representation in Washington, D.C., by GEO-DC, and its web resources.

We believe, however, that a singular advantage to membership in the DPA is, well, the incredible people who are involved.

It’s all about networking.

DPA networking, online and at AAPG meetings, offers opportunities to learn from the best oil finders in the business and to participate in world-class programs. We hear stories about how DPA has kindled friendships that “sealed the deal,” provided insights that led to new plays or inspired personal missions.

These stories, DPA’s “lore,” are DPA’s best recruiting tools.

Every DPA member could tell such stories, of course, and you are encouraged to share yours with Chandler Wilhelm, editor of our DPA “Correlator” newsletter at

Here’s one of my stories about how a DPA event changed my life:

I attended a “Legends in Wildcatting” DPA luncheon organized by Jim Gibbs, a past president of both AAPG and DPA, at the 1997 AAPG annual convention in Dallas – and it featured a series of talks that profoundly transformed my professional life.

That day, Tom Jordan, Mike Halbouty, Bernard Duval, John Masters and Roy Huffington shared their thoughts on oil finding. I sat in the front row and took 10 pages of notes (which I still review today)! This panel told how great oil explorers combine science and business to consistently achieve spectacular results.

Powerful stuff!

These experiences made me want to create more forums like that one. When I became president of the Houston Geological Society in 1999, my top goal was to create a “Legends in Wildcatting” program. Over the last 13 years, HGS has continued to host Legends panels – number eight will be held Jan. 14.

Building on the success of Legends, in 2008 we launched a new program on the international stage, Discovery Thinking Forums, as an AAPG/DPA event at AAPG annual conventions. Since then we have held seven such panels – typically for standing-room-only crowds – with many more forums planned as we look toward 2017, AAPG’s 100th anniversary.

Each of these programs started as a “wildcat” idea, and this Playmaker program is such an idea for DPA and AAPG. For me, many thematic roads and friendships lead back to that pivotal DPA event 15 years ago. It was my personal tipping point.

I hope our Playmaker Forum this month will be as valuable an event for you – and a tipping point for many experienced and young professionals.

Empowering geologists to find oil and succeed in business is a worthy New Year’s goal for us all.

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Division Column-DPA

Division Column-DPA Charles A. Sternbach

Charles A. Sternbach, DPA President.

Division Column-DPA

The Division of Professional Affairs (DPA), a division of AAPG, seeks to promote professionalism and ethical standards, provide a means for professional certification of petroleum geologists, coal geologists, and petroleum geophysicists, assist in career planning, and improve the professional well-being of AAPG members. For more information about the DPA and its activities, visit the DPA website.

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