SPE and me... eMentoring Stories
Read how our members are building their careers and benefitting from joining the SPE eMentoring program as both mentors and mentees.
"There is so much satisfaction to be gained from investing in someone’s career development as a mentor. There is also much to be gained from investing in yourself and seeking out being mentored."
— Shauna Noonan
Read The Influential Yet Delicate Balance of Mentoring in the Journal of Petroleum Technology
Zach Malone, Mentee
Mark Brinsdon, Mentor
Gender, age, race, and nationality diversity at the workplace adds value to our professional and personal lives. Different generations have always coexisted at the workplace. However, the long expected “big crew change” in the Oil and Gas Exploration and Production industry, when quickly occurred, created challenges for the successful integration of different generations.
I believe that mentoring can beneficially impact this integration. Mentoring could help generations understand each other’s different perspectives, work styles, behaviors, standards, values, and beliefs. Mentoring is the most powerful tool to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from experienced to young professionals. The SPE eMentoring program provides the means to generate these win-win cross-generational relationships.
During the first meeting my mentee and I consider our personal schedules and agree about the preferred day/time for subsequent meetings. It is also very important to define the goals very early in the relationship. In this way, both of us are knowledgeable about what to expect from the program.
I have noticed that, occasionally, it is not clear to the mentee that the mentoring relationship requires time. Any topics that we are going to discuss, either technical or developmental, will require the mentee to allocate some personal time to reflect, study, or research the topics of his/her interest.
My mentee and I have biweekly meetings that typically last at least one hour. We meet online using Zoom, and continue communication by email, as appropriate, between meetings. Zoom allows us to discuss documentation by screen sharing.
My mentee drives the relationship. One of my mentees responsibilities is to send the Zoom invitation several days before the meeting, and to submit the meeting minutes as soon as possible after the meeting. The minutes briefly capture the topics that were discussed, lessons learned, and action items. Consequently, the topics that we plan to discuss during the following meeting are clear to both of us.
The interactions with my mentee are professional and confidential. I commonly share good practices to improve reasoning, communication, and presentation skills, and emphasize the importance of networking. Being a mentor, gives me the opportunity to further refine my communication and leadership skills.
If the goals for the program are clearly defined, and we both, mentor and mentee, allocate the necessary time and efforts to fulfill them, the mentoring connection blooms. Based on my experience, it’s good if a friendship develops between mentor and mentee, but not a necessary condition to share a successful mentoring relationship.
My advice to potential mentees is to reflect if they have time in their busy schedules for the mentoring relationship, before taking any commitment. If the mentee decides to take the challenge, and later on he/she realizes that he/she would prefer to cancel the program, the recommendation is to let the mentor and the eMentoring program administrator know about this decision.
As a mentor, it is very rewarding to observe the progress of my mentee, as he/she accomplishes his/her goals. I feel very satisfied for the opportunity that the eMentoring program provides to share my professional experience with others. Mentoring inspires unique relationships that foster mentor and mentee personal satisfaction and career success. Do not miss the opportunity to join!
Ms. Carreras' main interests are reservoir engineering, field development planning, reservoir simulation, mentoring and coaching. She has worked for major, independent and consulting oil and gas companies for more than 25 years. With vast international work experience, gained in Houston, Ciudad del Carmen (Mexico), and Buenos Aires, she is an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, currently serving in the Business, Management and Leadership Committee, and volunteering as a mentor for the eMentoring program. She holds a Bachelor degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Buenos Aires, and a Master of Engineering degree in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Patricia E. Carreras, Reservoir Engineering Consultant
I joined the eMentoring program to share my experiences with fellow young professionals on the kind of attitude required in working outside of their comfort zones, and being able to get work done safely and efficiently. Since we're from the same generation, we will all have faced similar issues and problems and can learn from each other along the way.
After building an initial rapport, my mentees and I agreed to communicate via email once a week. I believe that good mentoring requires two-way communication. It’s very easy to succumb to a one-directional question (from mentee) and answer (by mentor) mode, but it is incumbent upon the mentor to get to know their mentee’s background and goals. This will lay the foundation for providing the right advice and guidance.
One of my mentees was undecided if he should immediately enroll for a Master’s degree upon completing his Bachelor’s or gain some working experience first. I shared my own experience and motivations for pursuing a Master’s degree only after several years of working in the oil industry. The work experience enabled me to determine my area of interest and thus the subject matter on which I wanted to focus my thesis research on. I also provided specific examples relating to production engineering where theoretical knowledge has to be supplemented by continuous on-the-job learning and training in order to increase marketability and therefore expedite career progression. This helped my mentee determine his future plans upon completing his Bachelor’s degree.
Another one of my mentees was looking to apply for jobs overseas due to geopolitical conflicts in her home country. She was apprehensive about starting anew in another country where she had no contacts and had to establish her network of professional contacts from scratch. I shared my own experiences of starting fresh in a new country (The Netherlands).
My advice to other potential mentors is to always tailor your mentoring to meet your mentee’s goals. For many mentees (especially students), you, as a mentor, may be their main portal into the world of professional petroleum engineers. Be prepared to share your experiences, achievements and hardships with them. And lastly, always provide specific examples – nobody likes vague advice!
I managed to share my own experiences and inspire some young future Petroleum Engineers. I was also able to view things from their points of view, and that will help me become a better manager in the future.
Experience: Production Technologist – PETRONAS, Malaysia (May 2010 – August 2014)
Production Engineer – Dana Petroleum, Netherlands (September 2014 – present)
Background: Bachelor in Petroleum Engineering, the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
MSc in Petroleum Production Engineering, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
Petroleum Production Engineer, Dana Petroleum Netherlands.
While looking for different ways to get the most of my SPE membership, I discovered the SPE eMentoring Program on the SPE website. As a young professional, I was able to enroll and participate in the program as a mentor and mentee. Having a mentor is always a great way to get other points of view of the industry! Mentors provide feedback that helps young members reach their professional goals. I had great mentors along my career, therefore, it’s time to give back all those advices by sharing my knowledge and career advice to university students.
I encourage potential mentees to be as curious as possible, be persistent if your mentors do not respond as quickly as you wish, and try to reach mentors that share common interest or have a career path that you would like to pursue in the future.
The most successful connections are when both sides are willing to listen to each other and are open to new ideas and share common interests. I communicate more often with my mentees, normally once a week. However, with my mentor it was once a month. The communication depends on both sides, and it changes depending on the circumstances, interests and specific situations.
My advice to potential mentors is to support the next generation, it’s a matter of quality of time and not quantity. Being an SPE Mentor is a great way to motivate others to achieve their goals while transferring your experience and knowledge for the benefit of the industry. Particularly, Emiliano (my mentee) is really proactive and we shared a lot of common interests. It was great to be his mentor and his friend now! I really enjoyed my conversations and talking with Juan (my mentor); he provided me with meaningful advice for career development which focused on my interest and skills.
A Geoscientist with more than 9 years of experience in the oil & gas industry. He joined Chevron in 2008, where he has held different positions at the exploration and development divisions in Venezuela and Trinidad & Tobago. He is currently a Development Geologist in Chevron based out in Venezuela, and working in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, the biggest reserve of heavy oil in the world. As an active SPE member, he is the SPE Eastern Venezuela Section Chairperson, with strong focus in the SPE eMentoring program and Ambassador Lecturer Program. He has been awarded with the SPE Outstanding Young Member Award for the South America and Caribbean Region in 2017. He holds a MSc in Earth Sciences from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, and BS in Geochemistry (Magna Cum Laude) and BS in Geological Engineering from Universidad Central de Venezuela. Luis also obtained the AVAA Proexcelencia fellowship sponsored by the USA Embassy in Venezuela, as part of their educational programs and support to the Asociacion Venezolana Americana de la Amistad (AVAA)
Luis Enrique Valencia, Development Geologist
My motivation as a mentor is to give back to others joining this great and fascinating industry. I had some very good mentors in my time and I would like to share career and development advice with others.
Fabio and I would be in touch once and sometimes twice a month either through email or meeting in person for a coffee.
A good connection for me was the personal fit between Fabio and I. I enjoyed learning from Fabio new things about what he was focused on in his studies and his cultural heritage. We both enjoyed learning from each other.
Fabio and I spoke about how the university was a good opportunity to learn broadly about a range of topics that relate to Petroleum Engineering. Specifically, we spoke about the importance of understanding how commercial and economic factors influence ultimately corporate decision making. That struck a chord with Fabio and he took some time out to attend a Petroleum Economics class in his school.
My advice to potential mentors is to be open to make new connections, learn new things from your mentee and find common ground. It helps if you can meet face to face or use modern technology to establish a relationship.
By being a mentor I learned about Fabio’s subject and his background. Fabio also shared some of his perspectives on corporate culture and sustainable development. I always find that there is something to learn from each other.
Advisian, Senior Associate, 20 years in Production Engineering, Project Management, Front End Development and Consulting, Masters in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London and MBA from Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon in PittsburghKai C. Eberspaecher, Senior Associate
The main reason I joined the SPE eMentoring program and requested a mentor is to guide me and give me some advices on how to make the transition from the PhD back to the industry. Even though academia is a very interesting and important field for the oil and gas industry, I don't see myself working in this area long term. My goal is to further develop my skills, as well as help to create a stronger and more competitive industry. I'm passionate about the energy sector and to work in a company that gives me the opportunity to grow is my ultimate goal.
Kai Eberspaecher (my mentor) and I caught up over a coffee many times during the time of the eMentoring Program. All the communication was done mostly in person, but also via email. A good mentoring connection, from my perspective, is achieved when both sides are willing to share experiences and, together, ready to set goals and more importantly put into practice the advices and suggestions received.
My mentor suggested, in conjunction to my PhD project, to learn about something other than reservoir engineering, such as economics, to expand my understanding of the entire oil and gas business. I took his advice and attended a petroleum economics course at the university, which was a major step towards comprehending the decision making process and how my technical knowledge is useful in any oil and gas project evaluation.
My advice to other mentees is to choose your mentor based on your career goals and more importantly someone who shares the same professional interests.
I found the eMentoring program extremely important for me. It was my first time using this tool, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Coincidentally, Kai and I live in the same city. I did not know this when I chose him. We discussed the industry in general, my goals and shared professional experiences. It was great and Kai gave me valuable advices and I’m very happy with the outcome. I strongly recommend the SPE eMentoring program to all young professionals and university students.
The University of Queensland. PhD Candidate. Prior to starting my PhD studies in reservoir engineering, I worked as a process engineer on major greenfield projects within the oil and gas, chemical and mining industries.
Fabio Terzini, PHD Student
I learned about the SPE eMentoring program through the SPE Eastern Venezuela Section. I was looking for someone who is there to help, gives advice and could lead me to a better way, which is sometimes difficult to find. SPE eMentoring has helped me find new opportunities, to realize the world of opportunities we have, we just have to look for them.
My mentor and I communicate weekly through Whatsapp. The key to a good mentoring connection is through trust, honesty and establishing a friendship with your mentor. My best advice to other mentees is, do not think about it, just do it! It’s one of the best options you have to see how the industry really develops. In addition, you will have the support of someone who really wants to help you reach your goals.
eMentoring is one of the best programs that SPE could create. Students can have an approach to how the industry develops and how it is managed. It is a way to see how the theory is put into practice. Having a mentor is having someone who leads you to a better path, who shows you the best options and shares the knowledge with his/her mentee. A Mentor becomes a friend and maybe could be a co-worker. I want to thank my mentor Luis Valencia for being the best mentor that I could have. His advice has helped me in so many ways to reach my goal of being an excellent professional.
I've been with SPE since I started my career, and now I'm the treasurer of my student chapter.
Maria Patricia Amorín - Student of Petroleum Engineering from Universidad De Oriente, Nucleo de Anzoátegui, Venezuela.