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President’s Column

SPE Unveils a New Strategic Plan

pic of SPE presidentBy all objective measures, SPE is a very successful organization. Our membership, which has become increasingly global, has more than doubled in the past decade. The number of conferences and workshops has increased without compromising on quality. We’ve added new offices to serve our global membership. And we’ve added numerous new programs and services. We have managed our resources prudently and are financially healthy (see my article in last month’s JPT). But an organization that doesn’t periodically examine where it is going, especially in light of very rapid changes in the external environment, won’t remain successful.

In June 2012, the Board of Directors initiated a process to develop a new strategic plan for SPE. We gathered input from industry leaders, the Board, SPE members, and staff through a survey and interviews. This input framed the discussion at a Board workshop prior to the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition last October, where we explored additional initiatives and discussed priorities. During the workshop, the Board confirmed that SPE’s mission statement correctly defines what we’re about, and it crafted a revised vision statement:

Enable the global oil and gas E&P industry to share technical knowledge needed to meet the world’s energy needs in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

As part of the strategic planning process, the Board also considered the most significant threats to SPE’s continued success. The first threat has to do with oil and gas price volatility, which could affect support for SPE activities including membership and attendance at events. While SPE cannot influence the price of oil or gas, we can ensure that we are sufficiently prepared to withstand the impact of a price decline by making prudent investments and managing our costs. The second threat relates to concern that the quality of programs could be impacted by a rapid growth in SPE programs. To sustain our success, SPE must ensure that technical quality is not compromised. The third issue has to do with the changing demographics of SPE’s membership. More members are coming from areas that do not have a strong tradition of volunteerism. Coupled with the pending retirement of many of SPE’s long-time active volunteers, this could pose a significant challenge to SPE’s traditional volunteer-driven path to programming that must be addressed.

The new strategic plan does not address everything that SPE does. Rather, it identifies four strategic intents—areas where SPE can pursue focused initiatives—that will take us to an even greater level of success and service:

  1. Capability development (to support industry in dealing with the big crew change). Our industry will undergo a significant demographic shift over the next decade. SPE can support competency development (technical and soft skills) and assessment, assist with the challenges of university faculty development and retention (to train new engineers), and consider how we can support engineers in lifelong learning.
  2. Knowledge transfer. While dissemination of technical information is core to SPE’s mission, we can potentially do more in the area of knowledge transfer, such as making information more readily available, evaluating where translation is appropriate, identifying technology gaps across industry, curating content to help members find the best information, considering how new communication technology can benefit our programs, and enhancing and promoting current product offerings.
  3. Promoting professionalism and social responsibility. Growing interest in ethics and professionalism provides an opportunity for SPE to enhance its offerings. Promoting environmental, safety, and social responsibility as a priority with our members will complement the work of companies within our industry in these areas.
  4. Public education about engineering profession and industry issues. Attracting good quality young people to our industry is a priority. In addition, SPE may be able to leverage its reputation for integrity and technical excellence to provide technical information to governmental bodies, the media, and the general public, using the expertise of our members.

The SPE Board has identified its top 10 priorities across these four strategic intents and is currently evaluating what SPE can realistically accomplish in the next few years. The Board recognizes that whilst the creation of a new strategy is important, it is even more essential that the Board spends adequate time on monitoring how the strategy actually works. A staff position has been created to help this process.

I encourage you to read our new strategic plan, which is posted on the SPE website at www.spe.org/about/­strategicplan. You will find a copy of the strategic plan in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese.

Engaging with our Board of Directors in this strategic planning exercise has been a very rewarding experience and it was gratifying when we were able to confirm that our mission has remained intact over these years. I thank everyone who provided input in this exercise for their participation. I hope you will join me in looking forward to SPE’s continued success as we find additional ways to be of service in the first instance to our members wherever they may be in world and also to the industry and the world at large.