{President's Report 2003}
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Oil and Class

Oil and Gas have long fueled the ambitions of people who aspire to the glass towers of that powerful industry. Until now the inside knowledge that executives needed to succeed could only be gained on the slow climb up the corporate ladder. Now Memorial University has developed a new program that could help speed the climb to the top.

His office is as unassuming and down-to-earth as Gerrit Maureau — or Gerry as he prefers to be called. Yet this is a man who for decades has led his own international oil consulting firm and who flies himself across the continent in his own aircraft. Just this past fall he was appointed executive director of the Oil and Gas Development Partnership (OGDP), Memorial University’s newest initiative to serve the oil and gas industry. While Gerry is now the champion of OGDP, it was spearheaded by the efforts of a number of individuals including Memorial’s Dr. Jim Wright and Dr. Ray Gosine.

Based in the Earth Sciences building on the St. John’s campus, OGDP is not dependent on any single faculty. Gerry has set out to do nothing less than build a world-class professional development program to suit the needs of the best and the brightest in the oil and gas industry. On the medium-sized wooden table where Gerry is seated are the slings of temporary patch cords connecting his computer to the world. They suggest a project in its infancy. But Gerry’s 35-year knowledge of the industry quickly puts any concerns to rest. He can rhyme off the ins and outs of the new program as if it were decades old — no prompting necessary.

Memorial’s new master’s program in oil and gas studies (MOGS) is one of the results of Gerry’s efforts. It is a new executive development program that will accept its first candidates in September 2003. The instructional team includes industry professionals and Memorial faculty. According to Gerry, the ideal student will have 10 years’ industry experience and be destined for the large glass and leather offices. This program can put their careers on the fast track.

Gerry says MOGS is attracting attention in important places. "A friend of mine teaches a section on gas at Rice University (Houston) in their MBA program. He read through our program and said he was going to recommend it [to industry managers] because it's unique."

The program includes three intensive three-week-long onsite modules with a four-month gap between each module when the managers return to their parent companies. "They will have problems to solve and projects to do. About a month before each module, they'll get a full package of materials to be covered. So when they arrive, they're ready to participate actively."

MOGS will expose managers-on-themove, sooner than they might otherwise expect, to many aspects of the modern industry that is driven by much more than "search and sell." The program leaves no stone unturned for its candidates. "Other things which drive the industry, like resource management, government relations, the socio-economic impact on communities, sustainable development, the environment…these are all areas that companies have to be involved in. What we're trying to do is prepare the individual so that he or she understands the industry as a whole and can therefore best manage the corporation within the confines of their strategic plan.

"It's usually the chairman of the board or the president who gets to see how the entire company works and it's taken them 35 or 40 years to get there. We would like to expose them [the managers in the program] to that kind of knowledge well before they're in a position to have to make decisions that have a solid corporate impact.

"The program is designed for highprofile managers who’ve had their early training. We're not teaching them to be managers. We're teaching them about the entire value spectrum of the industry," he explains, "from the initial geological field party… right through to the marketing of the hydrocarbons."

E-MAIL: gmaureau@mun.ca