Community Consensus: Volunteerism - Of Promoters and Promises
- Darcy Spady (2018 SPE President)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 10 - 11
- 2018. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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SPE can help small companies navigate financial understanding
Half of my career has been in the producer side of the business and the other half with a service company. The service experience has been with large organizations. It’s rather a nice place to be. My producer experience has been primarily with tiny, small, and intermediate companies.
The experience quite literally has highs and lows. Imagine a cartoon character jumping off a cliff—at first, you feel like a bird but as the ground approaches you are terrified and shortly thereafter you are quite compact, so to speak. I have had moments of pure euphoria as a small producer (usually the 15 minutes after a capital raise or a sale event), but more often it is panic, terror, and a lot of out-of-control times when you wished you had a finance degree or two.
It may not seem intuitive, but engineers need to understand financial matters, and that’s where SPE comes in, with connection opportunities to places other than your technical discipline. There are a lot of us technical types trapped or living in the small cap producer world or technical innovator space. We don’t get much support at technical conferences. We don’t get much time to do technical things. Little producers are very often forgotten. Small technology providers rarely get love, and often they have little time allotted to pitch their idea. I’m going to pay some attention to that group in this column. I’m going to promise some good things in the future.
Early in my career—when the local price of oil was less than $10/bbl and the future was extremely bleak—I was fortunate enough to encounter people who held very lofty positions and took the time to care about this lonely new grad. In the early 1980s, Gerry Maier O.C. (the Order of Canada) was president and CEO of TransCanada Pipelines, a large public company located in an office towering above Toronto’s financial district. I was a struggling new grad working on the periphery of the industry, but Maier took me under his wing. He gave me all the attention I needed to discuss establishing a petroleum engineering chair at the University of Alberta, our alma mater. Even after all these years, Maier has not forgotten that meeting. He has met with other CEOs, Canadian prime ministers, and even royalty, yet Maier remembers that meeting with me.
He has no idea how it kept me going at one of the darkest moments of my career. He remembered the little guy. To this day, I try to pay back that generosity by modeling that behavior.
For example, I hope that Tarun Kumar from UPES in Dehradun, India, is encouraged for life because I took the time to encourage him, after disagreeing strongly with a technical point he made in a student paper competition. Maybe someday he will be involved in a small cap Indian producer listed on the Mumbai exchange.
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