Day in the Life: Elaine - Chief Geophysicist
Location: Calgary, AB
Salary: Starting entry-level salary $64,000 to
$200,000 for senior management positions. Also see APEGGA salary
Education: Bachelor of Science, Honours in
Applied Geophysics from University of Western Ontario
Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to
Elaine never imagined working in the oil and gas industry
growing up in her home town of Mississauga, Ontario. Upon entering
university, she became aware of the exciting world of geophysics,
and has never looked back. Her early career in mining as a
geophysicist, proved to be the 'foot in the door' she needed to
convince oil and gas employers to hire her as a seismic data
processor. This position helped her to move into an interpretation
role first with Shell, and later with AEC (now EnCana). Elaine now
works as a Chief Geophysicist at Enerplus, where she is the
principal geophysical advisor for the company.
Elaine made sure her professional growth over the years was an
integration of other disciplines. "To be successful I needed to
have a truly integrated view of the business and the reservoir. I
spent a few years learning the tools and approaches of reservoir
engineers. I have also committed myself to lifelong learning and
have taken a wide range of technical, communication, personal and
leadership training over the years." Elaine also credits volunteer
work with professional associations such as APEGGA and CSEG for
rounding out her leadership skills. This integrated approach, plus
a few mentors along the way paved the road for Elaine to learn
valuable skills on the job, while further honing her technical
Elaine comments that the combination of people and technology
drove her to succeed as a Chief Geophysicist. "I love the people I
work with at Enerplus - we all have a passion for the application
of science and how it can be used to do business better. In looking
back at how my career path has twisted and turned through the
years, I am grateful for the opportunities, and for the wisdom in
knowing to never give up!"
What I'm working on right now:
We're involved in a non-operating position for a significant project in the U.S. within
a very exciting, new shale gas play. It's important for Enerplus to
actively engage with our partners, to ensure we are applying
geophysical technology in the most effective manner. My role is to
ensure the best technical approach is undertaken to give the
company and our partners the best chance at defining opportunities
and reducing risk.
I work mainly in an office environment. The work culture is a
very respectful environment, with tight-knit teams where everyone
is focused and committed to transitioning the company to a
growth-oriented, income-yielding oil and gas company. I love
working at Enerplus - I truly connect with the vision, values and
integrity of the company. This is one of the most exciting
companies to be a part of in the oil and gas industry.
Skills I use most in the job are:
Having a strong technical base is important. I have a formal
education and training in the acquisition, processing and
interpretation of data. Important soft-skills relate to thinking,
analysis and communications. You can't be effective if you cannot
communicate. In my job, you have to be able to clearly explain to a
variety of people why a certain approach will be taken or not.
What I love about my job:
I love the diversity in my role and the opportunity I have to
significantly impact the organization. I love working with the many
talented people across the organization and the ability to use
science to impact the success of a drilling program.
If I could change one thing about my job it would be:
Engaging in good time management is a challenge with such a
diverse role and so many different parties looking for my input. I
attend many meetings and I want to ensure I impact the outcome of
the Enerplus' activities, and not simply satisfying an obligation
to attend a number of meetings. If I could change one thing, it
would be to attend slightly fewer meetings and focus more on the
people and the technology.
Why I chose the oil and gas industry:
The oil and gas industry contributes to the quality of life in
our society. It's more than just making money or turning a profit.
Our industry truly impacts the quality of life for people, which is
very important to me. Without hydrocarbons - we wouldn't be able to
function the way our society does today!
What surprised me most about the oil and gas industry:
The industry can be very competitive and companies compete
brutally. In the end though, we all relate just the same on a
variety of goals - commitment to safety, willingness to share
knowledge, and the desire to achieve a better industry overall is
Best career advice I ever received:
My Dad always told me to aim high - in other words, aim for a
career that challenges you, one that will continue to satisfy you
as you mature over your lifetime, and ensure you work your hardest
to deliver the best results.
My typical day looks like this:
My role is to lead the geophysics discipline within Enerplus.
The science of geophysics within the oil and gas industry aims to
understand the physical properties of the earth. Seismic data shows
the earth's sub-surface, and is used to make business decisions
about where to drill oil and gas wells for drilling success.
I ensure geophysicists have a common focus and standards,
specifically on the application and appropriate use of technology
and science. I ensure our geophysicists and business managers
understand how our application of geophysical technology will
impact the company. I also act as a check-point, provide mentoring
to other staff and sign-off on project approvals.
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