Industry Expert Interview Series: Tammy Weir
Interviewer: Rene’ Mott
René: Tammy I am so excited to get with you to share your career, experience, and wisdom with others. Data management is so important and often the last thing that professionals think about after receiving and interpreting the data. Having started in the Oil and Gas industry where it was primarily physical storage, to see and experience the evolution of the digital data movement, must bring a wealth of knowledge to our industry.
Organizing data is more than just cataloging; it should also include extensive file recovery, metadata extraction, workflows, storage consideration, and ongoing budget approval to keep your assets active and secure and to keep organizational process standards evergreen.
Understanding that vintage data can be revisited with new techniques much like forensic data from old cold cases. Continuously, new technologies allow the Geoscience community to find and expose value in assets that were previously unrecognized. Imagine bringing new life to Oil and Gas plays that exploit the benefits of the ability to revisit your clean vintage data, but first, you have to know data availability and validate asset entitlement.
How did you get started in the oil and gas industry, specifically data management? Is there a connection to your natural ability to organize?
Tammy: I started my career with Kestrel Data Management in Calgary, Canada in 1990. I grew up in the Oil and Gas industry, moving where new projects or work took my father so I was familiar with the E&P language, even as a kid. From an early age I had a keen sense of organization and ensuring everything is in its proper place.
At Kestrel, I started in the warehouse and moved through all the operational roles until being promoted to Operations Manager. Throughout my time with Kestrel, I was learning, finding improvements, and getting a deep understanding of all aspects of records, and geological and geophysical data management. And this was before we started using computers!
René: When did you decide to go independent and open your own business? (Tell us how you started)
Tammy: After being with Katalyst Data Management, previously known as Kelman Data Management, for over 8 years and expanding the data management team into Houston from Calgary; I started to recognize a strong need for consultants that could work independently between the vendors and the clients. Independent input would ensure a clear focus on meeting the data needs, instead of the budget being spent. At the end of the day, data is a valuable asset, and someone needed to start speaking on behalf of that asset. In 2005, I felt that the timing was right, so I decided to take the leap and start consulting independently. After 4 years, with multiple companies asking for help, I knew that I needed more resources to meet the demand. In 2009, I started Weir Consulting Services, LLC, and expanded my team.
René: What is the best part of being a business owner?
Tammy: The best part of my job is being at the forefront of data management advancements and seeing the result of implementing standards across the industry gives me huge satisfaction. Experiencing that reward comes from the freedom to be innovative and the liberty to address every aspect of data management, without compromise.
As a business owner, I am in a position to interact at all levels across the industry, both nationally and internationally. Actively participating in knowledge sharing between vendors, exploration and production companies allows me to adapt best practices by applying lessons learned from both sides. Overseeing projects for multiple companies using various technologies and practices continue to keep our industry and regional knowledge evergreen. From those projects, I can apply my experience and analytics to recommendations and project decisions. This means always giving recommendations that are best for the data outcomes without repercussions. Our global experience and cross-industry knowledge contribute to the success of our projects. Having that direct impact on improving data management and being a part of the solution at a business level is very satisfying.
I also enjoy working with my team and being able to deploy the best resources for each project based on the requirements. Throughout the project lifecycle, I also get to interact across business units, creating synergy as well as being a mediator to ensure that the best solution is always a priority.
René: In your 30-year career, technology has changed considerably in data management. How often have you seen technology impact your workflows?
Tammy: I’ve seen several huge changes in technology over the years, with the data management procedures being modified to accommodate those changes. In the early years, orders for physical media were submitted by fax. Changing to email communication made the process more efficient and secured a digital record of the order.
The transition from accessing and managing physical media to the instant accessibility of digital data changed data management at all levels. This improved the speed of data delivery and brought in new data delivery expectations. Cataloged data was recorded on paper pages within binders that a geophysicist would search through physically and data managers struggled to keep up-to-date. Now with digital databases, the G&G team has full visibility of all cataloged data. With cloud computing and cloud storage, global teams have access to a shared database. Adapting to global technologies has an immediate value-add for the data management groups, giving quick access to data derivatives.
Those are just some examples of large-scale technology changes. Throughout the industry, we have seen smaller changes as well. We have even contributed to creating and deploying new technology for our clients.
René: Owning a business means that some very creative ideas are generated to stay relevant. How often does the Weir business model and technology change?
Tammy: As history tells us, we will continue to see improvements in technology. Technology change in turn drives improvements, and changes in processes and procedures. When working with clients, we ensure the procedures we are implementing are adaptable and include scheduled reviews;
The one area that will remain constant is my business model. I am unwavering in my mission to improve data management processes across the industry. I started WeirCS with the need to speak on behalf of the data, and I will continue to advocate for the best solution that maintains the value of our client’s data. To see details about services and procedures look at the website www.weircs.com.
René: Every career has amazing stories. Can you share one of your greater successful stories?
Tammy: When you work on data management projects implementing and maintaining strong processes and procedures are essential for success. Specifically, one project involved moving a large amount of physical media from the client’s warehouse to various remediation centers each month. While doing this project, WCS worked with a software company to develop technology for tracking media movement and receipt, with barcodes, to ensure the chain of custody was not lost.
This project had more than 1.2 million items and was hugely successful. All items were accounted for by monitoring and ensuring the internal to external processes were followed. When we did encounter issues with item hand-off or delays in delivery, the process with the tracking technology helped us quickly identify and address the issue. Through this, we also had a record of the cause of the issue and were able to improve processes further.
René: 1.2 million items is certainly a monumental project! Congratulations on bringing that data set to closure.
Are your clients domestic to North America, International, or both? What legal considerations are the difference between domestic and International?
Tammy: I’ve worked with in North America and internationally with the biggest difference being entitlements. Entitlements and data license laws are different for each country.
Through our years in the industry, we’ve gained a deep understanding of these differences, and we stay up-to-date with changes to continue building our knowledge base to make sure we can tackle issues when clients come to us for assistance.
For example, obligations for data deliverables vary from country to country. For data collected from geophysical acquisitions, some governmental entities recognize that data to be a country-owned asset, along with any associated data derivatives.
Ownership and data disclosure periods vary from country to country. Data may or may not be allowed to leave the country physically or digitally for a certain period of time. This is a vital detail to understand when performing geophysical acquisitions abroad. The contractual language must be reviewed and understood down to every punctuation when it comes to deciding entitlement internationally and domestically.
When working with international and domestic data, stakeholders must clearly understand and differentiate between ownership of data concerning vendors and Gas (O&G) companies, and the government. To ensure full awareness of data ownership, stakeholders need to maintain an accurate and updated record of data ownership changes between the O&G Company, vendor, and government. For example, O&G data being divested to a large vendor may be contractually owned 100% by both the O&G organization and the governmental entity.
René: Do you see the increase in client productivity directly related to the ability of standardized data management procedures?
Tammy: 110%! A standardized data management procedure absolutely improves productivity. With standard procedures in place, geophysicists can find data quickly, be more productive, and add to the bottom line by being more effective in finding exploration opportunities. When geophysicists have predictable access to data, they are more efficient at delivering the analysis and interpretation to stakeholders.
Standardized procedures create a cohesive team culture and increase productivity. The G&G teams have a common approach to data management and can effectively collaborate on projects, and hand off to other members when needed.
I have worked on projects where clients were not aware of some of the data they had. Standardizing their data management not only made the data available to the G&G team but also opened new areas for exploration. Effective, standardized procedures increase individual and team productivity which in turn produces high-value results.
René: Every company is very budget-conscientious today. What steps has your company taken to mind the budget and still provide solid data management services?
Tammy: Oil and gas companies know the value of their data and competing in the exploration market requires clean and accessible data. We are finding that more companies are choosing to dig into their data and find the value that they already have. We come on board to help bring the highest value and stay within budget. Our goal is to quickly assess the client’s business objectives, their pain points, and the risks that they currently have. Projects are often similar between clients so defining a project plan, estimated budgets and timelines are very accurate from experience. I am a firm believer that you just do not throw people at a problem, it all starts with your processes. We have established a standard for data management processes and attempt to modify the procedures specific to our client’s workforce and resources. If you have clearly defined workflows and procedures, then you can have a streamlined group to manage the assets.
Rene: What hobbies do you like to do to unwind from all the hard work of being a business owner?
Tammy: I am on a quest to see all corners of the world, to immerse myself in other cultures, to be present in the history of the countries I visit, and connect with the people who live there. Figure 1 is a great panorama of the Cliffs of Moher. Figure 2 was a fun tour of the Jameson Distillery in Dublin. Figure 3 is a great view of an Italian vineyard. Figure 4 was a great experience on the Orient Express. The last Figure 5 is the highly recognized Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
When at home, my happy place is on my bike soaking in the outdoors or connecting with my long-time friends and new associates.
René: What advice would you offer a young professional, especially those that are the end users of seismic data?
Tammy: With technology changing so quickly and with everything at your fingertips in day-to-day initiatives I think the new professionals to the industry will be a bit shocked to come into the O&G industry and see that there still is a large amount of assets still stored physically in warehouses or data rooms. Young people are the leaders in new technology and I believe that the industry will have huge gains with their knowledge and expertise. I would strongly encourage them to advocate with peers and their management for improvements and strive for continued yearly budgets to be evaluated for new solutions and projects to reduce the liabilities of assets stored in warehouses. I would also encourage young people to learn about data and license laws and apply that knowledge in their data management tasks.
Rene’: Tammy thanks for sharing with the readers about being mindful of our datasets. Paying close attention to management workflows, processes, inventory, recovery plans, storage, and retrieval all the while keeping budgets in mind throughout. You illustrate that organizing is more than just cataloging or keeping data labeled in a box. Data management is multi-fold with digital data volumes however the technology along with digital data has improved also throughout the decades.
You also bring to our attention that your team can uncover data that clients did not know that they have which is like mining where the next sample may hold a surprise. Finding unknown or lost data must be very rewarding.
So companies should mind the data they have and mine the data for what they don’t know they have!
Thank you for your time in this interview. Bon voyage on your next world, culture adventure!!