NAME: John Moffitt
CURRENT TITLE: Project Manager, Houston Texas. A former geophysicist, geologist & exploration manager, now designing top drives and other large drilling equipment.
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Astrophysicist, Paleontologist, Geologist, Geophysicist, Exploration Manager, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Project Management
YEARS EXPERIENCE: 50 years in the oil business
EDUCATION: MS in Physics
What’s your job like?
A project is nothing more than a deliverable and a deadline. One third of my job is helping the client to understand that simple idea. Another third of my job is helping the client to understand the difference between a deliverable and a task. Breaking down the project into sub-deliverables is the easy part. Assigning tasks to each sub-deliverable is remarkably easy. Managing risk and managing the client’s expectations pretty much fills out the rest of my job. There is little difference between an exploration project, an engineering project, or a research project.
What’s your typical day like?
It has been rare in my life to have a typical day. I approach each day with whatever obstacles to progress remains and what new ones are coming … and work to come up with solutions.
Impossible problems are nearly always the most important. Over 50 years, I’ve changed in a great many ways. Early on, I was a technical person avoiding people problems if possible. Later on, I realize that nearly every problem has a large people component, even when you would like it to be purely technical.
For over 35 years, I have taken groups of school children on a paleontological field trip back in time and across Texas. It has evolved into 4th graders over the last 10 or more years. I’ve already had sons and daughters of kids that were 10 to 12 years old on and earlier trip. The weekend after this one is my 2015 trip. One of my teachers on this trip came on two of my trips when she was 11 and 12. Last year, the kids founds nearly 30 rare Pennsylvanian trilobites. The photos below help illustrate that my entire career has been a blast!
People and time will always be the biggest challenge. Math is easy.
What’s your advice for students?
While I have a long career, most of which was in Earth Science … I caution all young people to maintain flexibility in all things. Career situations have a way of changing and sometimes change dramatically. Any 50 year career will typically require you to re-invent yourself almost completely 3 to 4 times in order to provide continuity in the necessities of living.
I was an Exploration Manager in 1986 when oil hit $10 a barrel and the USA pretty much got rid of Petroleum Exploration for over 20 years. Over 99 percent of Earth Scientists involved in exploring for oil and gas all lost their jobs. I watched several Earth Scientists lose homes, family, and all security by being unable to bend in the wind. Within 3 weeks with almost 20 years of oil business experience, I was designing software systems for a startup computer company … going back to work for service companies a couple of years later.
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