Career advice for young geophysicists in a declining market

With a column like this called “Data Trends”, it gives me massive carriage to talk on almost any issue I like. The editor of Preview would prefer of course that it has at least some vague reference to geophysics, or science in general, but as long as it is three columns wide, and fills a page, I think I usually meet my target. In the case of this article, I address the overlying “Data Trends” of our fickle industries ups and downs.

One of the things about writing an article for an intensely technical publication such as Preview is that I have to be very careful not to be too smart. Smart generates feedback, and in general feedback is not good in technical writing. So I try to walk the fine line of witty intelligence, with an undertone of life experience.

Witty intelligence in general is a far stretch for me, well at least half of it is. But life experience I have in spades. In my many past lives, I have been a cook, an army medic, a truck driver, a cardiac technician and a CEO. I now have 5 kids, have been married for 25 years, have been to the north pole, climbed a mountain and swam with whale sharks. I have met prime ministers, rock stars and comedians, and have suffered loss and seen hard fought gains. I feel qualified to talk to young geophysicists about their careers (hopefully none of them will ask me any technical questions).

So having informed you of my qualifications and convinced you of my authenticity, let me offer some career advice to our youngest graduates who no doubt are actively seeking some direction (in the context of the current state of the geophysical market).

  1. If you are reading this article and are a young geophysicist, that means you are a member of the ASEG and are off to a good start (or it means your dentist has a shortage of magazines for his waiting room).
  2. Find the discipline within geophysics that you enjoy the most and keep pushing. If your objective is to be the best in your field, this advice sticks. If your objective is to become immensely wealthy, this advice also sticks (about 1% of the time), win – win.
  3. Commodity prices will rise and fall, and seemingly so will the degree of appreciation you get from your employer. Don’t let the industry roller coaster make you change your views of your chosen profession. Continue the development in your area of interest, even if you are driving a taxi part time to pay the bills. Just ride it out and live with the certainty that better times always follow the bad.
  4. Lastly, never take advice from a balding, old geophysicists that claims to be offering free career counselling.

On a more serious note, the industry has a boom and bust cycle – feast or famine. That is just the way it is. Our most remarkable talents in geophysics did not get to their positions by stopping their feet from moving underneath them on the basis of market conditions. As my father used to tell me, “good things come to those who wait”. He just never specified how long I had to wait.


Guy Holmes

Guy is a graduate of Geophysics from Macquarie University in Sydney, and has completed a Masters of Business Administration (Technology Management) from Deakin University in Melbourne. 

Guy is a successful leader with a proven track record in the growth of start up and turn around businesses in the IT, medical and information management sectors.

Guy has extensive experience in the oil and gas, minerals, medical, and information management industries in Australia and the Asia Pacific and is a highly regarded entrepreneur.

Guy’s experience includes:

• Sourcing Venture Capital
• Acquisitions and Sales of businesses
• Commercial technology development
• Research and development for internal and external products
• International business development
• Product and service marketing, development, and management
• Multimillion dollar contract negotiations with government and private sectors (International and domestic)
• Development of business and marketing plans, strategy documents , and other executive level documents
• Industry leader in information management, data management, archiving strategies, legacy technology with a particular focus on the management of oil and gas and minerals information and data on a global scale.
• Operational management and refinement to seek maximum profitability
• Grant applications, financing arrangements, and seeking alternative funding

The results that Guy has achieved in his varied roles stand testimony to his abilities to:

• Manage organizational resources to achieve results
• Develop and drive technology solutions to achieve business goals
• Grow businesses that are both start-up and/or stagnant
• Successfully land, negotiate, perform and complete projects both domestically and internationally

Guy has been married for 24 years and has five children. He enjoys playing ice hockey, travel, mountaineering and spending time with his family and reading.