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Case Study: John Banks

Personal details
Degree:BSc (Hons) Geology Profile picture
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences
Year of Graduation:Jun-1997
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Maersk Oil North Sea (UK) Ltd
Job title: Senior Petrophysicist
Occupational Sector: Geology
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I have not followed a traditional route to my current position. I graduated from my MSc just as the price of oil hit $10/barrel in 1998. I spent a year working for the BGS before joining the oilfield services company Baker Atlas working on a subsurface data management project. Later I, along with three others, setup our own company undertaking similar project work. I joined Shell in 2006 as staff as I wanted to do much more technical work. In both Shell and Maersk I have worked on a variety of projects and oil fields from a variety of geological environments. My career demonstrates that there are other paths other than direct entrance into a company’s graduate scheme.
What does your job involve ?
I am a senior petrophysicist currently working on the Culzean gas development project. I am responsible for calculating the reservoir rock properties that are used in both the static and dynamic models. Part of the responsibility involves working with contractors to gather data from wells used in my interpretation, deciding the appropriate techniques to calculate rock properties and to work with other subsurface professionals to apply my results in the models. I am also responsible for defining the data acquisition plans for the upcoming wells to be drilled. While much of my work is technically focused I also have responsibilities for mentoring, assurance of others work and various financial/commercial aspects.
What are the best bits of your job ?
I enjoy working with people and my role means I work with a range of people. I spend much of my time away from my desk talking to people. Rather than send an e-mail or call if I visit someone then I tend to get much better results and build and maintain excellent working relationships. During operations I enjoy the challenge of having to make quick decisions. It can be daunting but there are always colleagues around who are willing to offer advice to you. While you have responsibility you never feel alone.
Why were you successful?
From my previous experience I am able to show that I fit well into a team and am able to get the best out of people. My role involves liaising with a range of people, often under pressure, and I am able to demonstrate where I can deliver on tasks. Networks are also important at my experience level but these do take time to nurture.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The training I received in rigorous scientific methodology and approaches has been key. Also a questioning nature is useful – often asking the simplest of questions leads to useful discussions within a team.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Be flexible. You will have to work through the night or at the weekend and will have to cancel social engagements. The rewards however are generous; both financially and in the range of projects that you can work on. Try to spend as much time as possible looking at rocks whether core or analogues in the field. Most of all enjoy it!