SPE 101

What the Best YP Committees Are Doing Now

Each year, dozens of SPE members and a handful of SPE sections are recognized for their efforts to help the society fulfill its mission, which can be briefly summed up in two parts:

  • Effective collection and sharing of technical knowledge
  • Promotion of technical and professional competence among the membership

Everything else we do in SPE (conferences, fundraisers, socials, outreach, etc.) is secondary to these two primary goals.

What makes award winners stand out from the crowd? This year I was fortunate to be a member of the judging committee for the Outstanding YP Committee Awards. Two dozen committees submitted applications, which contained many examples of creative solutions (and plenty of hard work) YPs employed to achieve remarkable outcomes. Even though one section can’t take on every ambitious initiative, it’s worth knowing of a few your section might wish to duplicate or modify to meet your local needs. Here are a few highlights:

Technical Knowledge—A number of YP committees hold a monthly YP meeting in addition to the monthly general section meeting. Some are special sessions. Some committees, for example, go on field trips, while others hold their own multi-day workshops for summer interns. Four European committees worked together to organize a major technical series led by YPs. The Italian Section broadcasts its events as webinars, complete with questions and answers from both the live and digital audience.

Staying Connected with YPs—Most sections use some combination of email, physical mail, posters, and flyers to contact YPs. A few others use bulk text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Brazil has also kicked off a podcast program. Many sections have a “company champion” program with a person (YP, established professional, or executive) promoting SPE events from within companies. For its social events, the Delta YP Committee encourages mixing YPs and the general membership to promote mentorship.

Soft Skills—The Calgary YP Committee held bimonthly soft skills lunch-and-learn sessions. The Vietnam YP Committee organized a “Soft Skill Day,” complete with office- and field-based speakers and oilfield-related games to teach the importance of teamwork and effective communication. To help its members gain a better understanding of the world of human resources (HR), the San Joaquin Valley YP Committee organized an HR dinner, with a panel of professionals available to answer members’ questions. The Gulf Coast YP Committee helped students develop skills in résumé writing and interviewing, including mock interviews and résumé critiquing.

YPs and the Section Board—The Netherlands Section ensures that at least one YP and one student serve on each of the section’s committees. In many sections, YPs serve on the general section board.

Membership Growth—The Mumbai YP Committee has been actively networking to help their section grow—and they added 50 new YPs in the last year. Giving away petroleum engineering books and presenting new members with an SPE polo shirt are ways the Brazil and Vietnam sections have generated enthusiasm.

New and Unique Events—The Gulf Coast YP Committee awarded prizes to members who attended the most events, held an SPE women’s event, and a first-ever painting class as a social event. A game of “Networking Bingo” was a creative way the Calgary Section used to encourage people to meet and learn about other members in their group (e.g., “Find someone born in December,” “Find someone who has been to Paris”). The London YP Committee organized an event with YPs and members of the Houses of Parliament to discuss careers in the petroleum industry. For interns new to the city, the Oklahoma City Section held a “Passport to OKC” event to help them get to know the town better and participate in the local community. The Permian Basin YP Committee had an end-of-year event to which all the past year’s speakers were invited, giving an extra opportunity for questions and networking with experts.

Overcoming Challenges—By offering an incentive to members who refer a speaker or suggest a topic to their committee, the Dallas Section ensures ideas are kept fresh. The Gulf Coast YP Committee created a formal YP governance document to describe roles and responsibilities, and ensure continuity from year to year. The Netherlands have organized an “Umbrella Committee” with representatives from all the local student chapters. Having university representatives gather together has fostered more efficient communication and better exchange of best practices. The Permian Basin YP Committee gained support for YP participation in SPE events by inviting local company executives to present leadership and career talks. Having demonstrated value to the executives, these leaders now “officially” encourage YPs to participate in SPE events.

There are literally dozens more great practices that could be shared if we had the space. For a complete listing, visit the YP Network ( and look in the Shared Documents folder for “Best Practices.”

Remember, we aren’t listing these in TWA just for information’s sake—the idea is for you to get inspired and help your own section achieve SPE’s mission using these ideas or others you dream up. If you aren’t serving on a committee but want to see something done, then volunteer and make it happen! The sky’s the limit, and SPE has resources available to help you. If you want more details about any of the items mentioned, need contact information for the various sections, or have other queries, you can contact SPE’s young member programs manager James Roberts at


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