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Saturday, July 07, 2018

A World of Culture, Oil, and Golf: Interview with David Allard, Geologist and Author

Having the opportunity to live and work in a number of different countries and cultures generates an awareness of the way that culture, context, and logistical realities affect leadership decisions. Welcome to an interview with David Allard, shares lessons learned from his diverse experience as a geologist in many different countries and contexts.

1.  What is your name and your background? 
 David Allard has a college degree in geology and  worked in the petroleum business his entire career. Colorado is the 7th US state he lived in including a couple moves with the family growing up.

2.  What did your career entail?  Where in the world did you work and why? 
David Allard worked for over 35 years as a petroleum geologist and from 1988 to 2006 worked internationally in more than 20 countries, including living with his family in Egypt and Scotland. Allard has had a varied career as a petroleum geologist, playing a part in many new field discoveries, publications, and public presentations. 

David Allard began working in industry as a petroleum geologist in San Francisco, CA then moved in 1981 to Midland, Texas to work for a major oil and gas company, and in 1988 to Houston working international projects. In 1998, after joining an independent oil and gas company, he moved his family to live in Egypt, followed five years later by a Scotland assignment. David took on management roles of increasing responsibility starting in 2000. After returning to the US in 2006 work locations have involved 3 different states.

He recently published a nonfiction book: A World of Culture, Oil and Golf that covers a 20 year period of international and domestic USA business and historical aspects from the perspective of a staff geologist and in the latter half of his career in leadership roles. Beginning in 2017, book marketing efforts include speaking events as an expert in petroleum geology and international experiences. He currently lives in Denver and still loves golf.

3.  What was your main job responsibility? Could you have done it from Houston? Why or why not?
As a manager in the petroleum business, I could do the job from Houston; especially now with the communications and computer tools we have today. Early in my career I spent a lot of time on rigs to acquire the geology data for exploration.  That experience got me in the international oil business initially, which lead to extensive travels. The interactions with locals resulted in some project benefits in the long run.

4.  What were some of the things you learned about people, culture, and different ways of doing business?
It is important to engage every member of the team in either remote drilling sites or in the office. Remote drilling sites in 3rd world countries require a variety of services and those are sourced locally. It takes time to vet the area and line up support, before the heavy equipment is moving to the location. Negotiations with government petroleum companies are helped if you know the local rules, who has what authority and who to trust as you portray what is in it for the host country.

5.  Please describe two or three of your most important "lessons learned" – 
Respect the host culture and customs of the host country when working internationally.
A successful team needs effective communication and to understand the strengths of each person on the team. People are motivated to work by things other than money.

International business of oil and gas requires understanding both above ground and below ground (geology) risk. International exploration discoveries are an exciting moment, but are only one step on the long road to profitability.

6.  Why did you write the book? When did you get the idea? Where can we buy the book? 
During my first international business trip in 1988 to Turkey, after an unusual encounter on the drive from a remote airport into the mountains to the well site; I decided to start keeping a journal. I expected many unusual things might happen along the way. Over the years I compiled 14 journals from a variety of assignments, business trips and postings overseas which are the basis for the book.
I feel lucky to see so many places and have the variety of business experiences and I want to share this oil and gas business description / inside look. The key aspects of my book that I want to share: A) how the international oil business works and B) various “you were there” cultural observations including political change and government stability issues in the host countries where we were exploring. For example, the fall of Communist Russia, turning Hong Kong back to China, and rebel encounters with the government.

The book focus is on the international business experiences and cultural observations over a 25 year period. The international oil and gas exploration business carried the author to many places tourists will never see and an inside look at a variety of business dealings and cultural aspects. This fascinating first person account shares what it's like to be an insider traveling the globe. At times there are security risks, humor and occasional golf!

“A World of Culture, Oil, and Golf” is available in hard copy or Ebook on all the usual digital outlets including Amazon or autographed copies from the web site:

7. Where is your hometown? Currently Denver and west Austin. I grew up in Massachusetts, Mississippi and Erie, Pennsylvania before moving to San Francisco for my first job. 
Who and/or what inspire you most?
I am most impressed with people that make a difference in the world; as well as accomplished artists and pro athletes. As far as writing about the oil industry: people that published insightful books Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize, Michel Thomas Halbouty the great wildcatter, Thomas Petrie’s Following Oil and Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain, to name a few.

Why do you write? 
I enjoy telling the story that others may be interested in. I was compelled to get my world of oil story out because I was lucky enough have seen so much. The oil business is of interest to many others these days being a political issue – globally;  and I want to tell a positive oil story of exploration and value creation.

Do you hope to inspire other writers? What advice would you give for people thinking about writing a book?
Take time to write down your story, share it with others and grow from the feedback

What obstacles have you overcome to write this book?
To make the details of business travel and international exploration into a story of interest, a book format worth reading – that others value is the challenge. Finding time to write!
Any hobbies or extracurricular activities you'd like to share? There are many. I almost switched to art major as a Junior...but finished in Geology. Others: running, golf, skiing, photography, film, guitar and trying to be a better fisherman.

Please view the interview with David on Life Edge.

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