Interviews With the Winners of the 2012 SPE International Young Member Outstanding Service Awards

The Young Member Outstanding Service Award recognizes contributions to and leadership in the public and community areas, as well as SPE, the profession, and the industry, by a member under age 36. Four awards were presented at the 2012 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition Annual Reception and Banquet, held 9 October in San Antonio, Texas.

Interview With Abhijeet Kulkarni

Do you think this award will have an impact on your professional life? How?

This award to me is in recognition of my effort on behalf of and dedication toward SPE. An acknowledgment like this at such a high level provides the impetus and encouragement for me to carry on. I feel extremely motivated and it strengthens my belief that good work never goes unnoticed.

How does your organization perceive this award and YPs involved in SPE?

Shell has been quite supportive of my role and work with SPE. I have been fortunate to have management support to maintain my association with SPE. In fact, an article was published on Shell’s intranet to highlight my achievement to encourage more employees to participate in SPE activities.

How has SPE helped you in your professional life?

SPE has played a crucial role in my professional development. I have benefited immensely from my work with SPE in honing my soft skills and better understanding the dynamics of human relationships as part of a professional team. My role as YPCC chairperson also helped me work on my leadership skills. Besides, SPE has also inculcated in me a sense of valuing time and efficient management that is useful in both my professional and personal life.

Interview With Maximiliano Medina

Do you think this award will have an impact in your professional life? How?

In my experience, most volunteer work for SPE is done undercover with some support from the company you work for, but always with the caveat that your real work comes first. The positive side is that people appreciate your ability to multitask and deliver at different levels. This obviously helps your career. However, the other side of the coin is that you are now expected to deliver even more, because the award means you can do so.

What do you think is the most challenging part for a YP?

The most challenging part for a YP is being able to remove the “young” and demonstrate that we are ready to make a difference in SPE and work right now. Overcoming the prejudice encountered because of our inexperience is sometimes tough, but the only way to go about it is with hard work and delivering great results. However, in some instances even with the best intentions, it might be difficult to be accepted by older peers, which is why SPE has promoted YP-specific initiatives where getting involved and making a difference is easier. 

How has SPE helped you in your professional life?

I started my career in my home country, Venezuela. SPE was not very strong there, so despite my efforts I never could get the most from SPE at that time. SPE became essential for my career development by helping me bridge a few competency gaps when I moved abroad and started working internationally. It certainly has been great for networking and making great friends. 

Interview With Carlos A. Chalbaud

Do you think this award will have an impact on your professional life? How?

For me the award has two dimensions. The first is that it is recognition for my service to SPE, my company, and the community. The second is that it has a strong motivational effect on me to keep growing in my professional service, which is a very important part of my professional life.

What do you think is the most challenging part for a YP?

It can be very challenging to reach a good work/life balance, particularly when you have children in their early years since they require a lot of attention and time, which can become scarce. It can be also very challenging to secure your immediate management’s support for volunteer activities since they can get concerned about the time dedicated to SPE activities.  

How has SPE helped you in your professional life?

It has helped me in many ways. With SPE I have met a lot of great people from whom I have learned a lot. Volunteering activities and networking offers a lot of opportunities to YPs like me.

I am also a member of a technical committee, which has helped me to have a more complete understanding of my core discipline and interrelated disciplines.

Interview With Javier Alejandro Rodriguez

Do you think this award will have an impact on your professional life? How?

Yes. Being recognized by SPE is good for your résumé. It delivers many messages: ability to achieve, leadership, multitasking capabilities, wide vision, and discipline (to balance work/life activities).

What do you think is the most challenging part for a YP?

YPs should be ready to catch up with the E&P industry and adapt to the demanding work environment. The most important thing is that E&P professionals are citizens of the world. This requires them to be open to change and be able to adapt to and respect other cultures.  

How has SPE helped you in your professional life?

SPE helped me bag my first job as a student secretary of an SPE Student Chapter. For me there are three main benefits of being an SPE volunteer: first is the opportunity to put leadership skills into practice; second, enhance your network; and third, build your reputation locally and internationally. TWA


Kulkarni is a reservoir engineer at Dansk Shell, Copenhagen, Denmark. During his 7-year career with Shell, Kulkarni worked on assignments in Egypt, Dubai, and Aberdeen, holding positions in drilling, CO2 enhanced-oil-recovery field-development planning, and reservoir management. Kulkarni is chair of the SPE Young Professional Coordinating Committee (YPCC). He led the SPE Aberdeen Section YP Committee, when it was awarded Outstanding YP Program 2 consecutive years. Kulkarni also helped promote the Energy4me program among YPs. He was selected to represent global youth at World Gas Conference 2012 held at Kuala Lumpur. He has worked as an editor for The Way Ahead. Kulkarni earned a bachelor of chemical engineering degree from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, and an MS degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.


Medina is a principal engineer in well and completions with Statoil’s Heavy Oil Technology Center, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, focused on research topics related to well construction and production optimization for heavy-oil thermal recovery methods. He has more than 10 years’ experience in the upstream oil and gas industry working with PDVSA, Weatherford, and Baker Reservoir Development Services. He was editor-in-chief of SPE’s The Way Ahead magazine and associate editor of the SPE Drilling and Completion journal. He has authored several technical papers in drilling and completions topics and has been a technical editor for SPE Journal since 2007. He is a registered professional engineer in Alberta, Canada. Medina earned a BS degree in chemical engineering from Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela and is currently finalizing an MS degree in petroleum engineering from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.


Chalbaud is a reservoir engineer at GDF Suez E&P UK, working for the Juliet and Jackdaw fields in the North Sea. Previous responsibilities within the company were providing reservoir engineering support to new venture projects and assisting in the coordination of the oil and gas reserves and resources corporate booking process and training. Chalbaud chaired the 2012 SPE London 1st Annual Conference and Exhibition and serves as membership officer for this section. He is a member of the SPE Reservoir Description and Dynamics Advisory Committee and the Student Development Committee. He previously served as an officer for the SPE France Section and won the 2011 Outstanding Young Member Award for the South and Central Europe Region and the 2012 SPE London Section Award. He has served as lead editor for The Way Ahead magazine and has chaired young professional sessions at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition and Offshore Europe. He has coauthored seven technical papers. Chalbaud received a BS degree in chemical engineering from the Simón Bolívar University at Caracas, Venezuela; and an MS degree in petroleum engineering from the French Institute of Petroleum and a PhD in engineering from École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers—both in Paris.


Rodriguez is investor relations manager at Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE), responsible for establishing and maintaining positive relationships with the Canadian and Colombian stock markets on behalf of PRE. He joined PRE in 2007, and as a reservoir simulation engineer, he was heavily involved with many simulation processes within the company, as well as in-situ combustion studies and rock-quality classification, mainly with Rubiales and Quifa fields. Previously, Rodriguez worked for Schlumberger in Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. He joined SPE in 2002 as a student member and served as secretary of the student chapter. After graduation he co-founded the YP program in Venezuela and later in Colombia. In 2010, Rodriguez served as YP Regional Focal Point, South America & -Caribbean. In 2011, he was invited to join the Young Professional Coordinating Committee. Rodriguez holds a BS degree in petroleum engineering from Universidad Central de Venezuela and a diploma in international oil and gas business management from Uniandes (Colombia).