Ian Young

I started my career at EnCana in 1985 with a BSc Hons from the University of Calgary, and spent the next twelve years learning the oil and gas business, prospecting throughout western Canada. During that time, I proposed and drilled hundreds of oil and gas wells, some of which were very successful and some of which came up dry. Whatever the result, it was always thrilling to get to drill through the target and wait for the data from the well which would tell the story.

After 12 years, I was then given the opportunity to move into management, and since then I have had a variety of roles including heading up a Business Unit which included 80 engineers, geoscientists and field personnel. My most recent role was looking after EnCana's exploration endeavours in Canada, but I am now taking a break from the geosciences with a transfer into Investor Relations.

I have experienced a number of cycles and was even laid off during one of the downturns, but it has always been an exciting and rewarding career. At age 43, I am in the fortunate position that I could retire and go skiing, but I am having way too much fun to do that.

Q: What is the title of your job and what do you do?

A: Vice President, Conventional Exploration and Joint Ventures. I oversee the evaluation of EnCana's non-core oil and gas properties and help attract other oil and gas companies to spend money on those properties.

Q: Who do you work for, and where are you based?

A: EnCana Corporation, Calgary

Q: What is your typical routine?

A: A typical day is 9 hours a day during the week, with some catch up from home as required. EnCana has every second Friday off

Q: Where do you work?

A: In an office

Q: What equipment/machinery do you use?

A: Computer. Earlier in my career I used microscopes quite a lot.

Q: What education or training is required for your job?

A: BSc in Geology and lots of industry experience.

Q: What kind of personal traits do you recommend for this profession?

A: Teamwork and communication skills are very important. Perhaps the most important thing is to be able judge how much work to do on a give prospect. There is always more that can be done, but after a certain amount of effort, the law of diminishing returns sets in.

Q: What is the salary range of your job?

A: Starting salary for a geologist in oil and gas is close to $70K and increases steadily after that. It's not unusual for experienced geologists to make $150K in a technical role with potential for bonus and stock options on top of that. Management salary and bonus structure can be higher again. When a company is successful, options and bonuses can be very significant.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: I love the business. It's fast moving, always changing and highly entrepreneurial.

Q: What are the advantages?

A: The people, a rewarding career, and the changing nature of the business.

Q: What are the advancement opportunities for this career?

A: There are plenty of opportunities. The oil and gas business in Calgary is highly competitive and there aren't enough geoscientists.

Q: How physically demanding is your job?

A: Not at all.

Q: Why did you choose this career?

A: I'd love to say something inspiring here, but the truth is at my private school in England, Geology was the only academic alternative to Latin, which I hated!

Q: a.What is your most memorable moment/event/place related to your experience as an Earth scientist?

A: I recently gave a lunch presentation to 700 people on the Changing Face of Exploration in Western Canada. In some ways it was a culmination of both my recent experience in the industry and my two years as President of the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers?

A: Every survey I have seen has Geoscience right at the top in terms of job satisfaction. The work is varied, challenging, exciting and creative. You get the opportunity to use your knowledge, propose a theory and then test that theory. There is so much opportunity in the Earth sciences across all sectors and all parts of the country right now, you should go for it!

Q: Any other comments to share?

A: Canada is second only to Australia in terms of volume of Earth per person for all countries with more than 5MM people. In addition, that Earth is extraordinarily well endowed with resources. Earth science is crucial for Canada's future and will remain so for hundreds of years.

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