publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Cathy Martin
November 12, 2013
When I want to know about seismic, physics or music trivia, I call on my friend Cathy Martin from the Hampson-Russell Software, div. at CGG Veritas. When I need a layman’s interpretation of seismic information – or to run down a market rumour on a land sale, my first call is to Cathy. If she doesn’t know or can’t disclose, she’s straight about that – and when she’s explaining a concept it’s ‘in language I can understand’ …. and just such a conversation gave rise to this interview:
First, some background – Cathy is 2nd of 4 kids, born and schooled in Hamilton, then B.Sc. in Physics from U of Waterloo, B. Ed. From U of Toronto; taught high school math, moved to Calgary when her husband’s work brought them here - got a geophysicist job in seismic data interpretation with Amoco – a 25 year career with a number of companies as consultant/contractor/employee, followed by a short retirement to Loreto, Mexico. She returned to Calgary and her career resumed with a contract initially, and then a permanent position as a member of the Hampson-Russell Reservoir Characterization team at CGG in Calgary.
Let’s back up again – there’s more. Music was a big influence from her early days. Dad was a box salesman by day, pianist and bandleader by night. “I don’t know how mom afforded the piano lessons after dad left (… we later reconnected and had a close relationship)”, but perhaps being the only one of 4 kids to finish high school had something to do with Cathy being driven to achievement that pushed her as much as any other early influences. She explains, “I’ve always been determined. Like the little train, I think I can, I think I can”.
Divorced, no kids, two cats, one retirement (that didn’t take) .. and she’s going strong in this chapter of her career as one of Calgary’s most seasoned and well regarded geophysicists. I asked her what the connection was between –music and seismic: she says, “they’re about frequency – they’re both all about sound waves. For example, Jean-Georges Malcor, worldwide Pres. of CGG is a marvelous pianist, and Brian Russell, Pres. of Hampson-Russell is a superb guitarist”.
Her musical and theatre avocation has been there, since high school – 30 years amateur, 10 years (part time) pro – piano, school choirs, school band (flute), amateur acting in dramatic plays and musicals, 25 years with the Savridi Singers – and more recently as a member of the Alto Egos, a trio and a 10-voice women’s choir, BLEND [I’ve been asked to help promote their Dec. 1 Christmas concert – so, here’s the link ] Her volunteer life is varied – helping out in High River after this year’s floods, a many year association with the Kiwanis Music Festival, serving on the executive of her industry association, the CSEG, to name a few. “I like to give back. I am so blessed.”
And, the final question: Why cats? – “I would love a dog, but don’t have time for one. I don’t love all cats. I love my cats. It’s nice to come home to fur faces that run to the door to greet me.”
I asked Cathy how she sees the marketplace for seismic analysis over the next quarter – what’s the marketplace like for the next 90 days?
… historically winter is the busy season but things are slow this year. The industry is a bit of a slump driven by low natural gas prices. But the demand for the in-depth reservoir work my team does is high and will likely continue to be so as producers try to maximize the information they get from seismic data before going to the expensive drilling and fracking stages.
And over the next 5 years?
… the industry isn’t really exploring anymore. Fracking is becoming more and more important and with it, more intense uses for seismic. It used to be that companies would shoot seismic on a speculative basis and evaluate all formations from top to basement. Now companies are far more targeted, using 3D imaging and are much more specific in the formations they analyze.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… loyalty, honesty, win-win relationships. As a consumer, I’m not a big online shopper. I like to get a feel for what I’m buying, and for who I’m buying it from. Quality. Convenience.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Cathy Martin to do business with – why are you been selected over your competitors?
… similar reasons I expect. I work with a very good group at Hampson-Russell. I have had repeat clients specifically request that I handle their project over some of my colleagues - probably because of my strong exploration background and my practical view on the highly theoretical work we do.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… remembering all the things I need to do … and then forgetting them in the morning!
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… a grade 11 physics teacher, Ralf Gmell. He wasn’t my teacher, but he and his wife virtually adopted a group of us – he was a strong male role model, which I needed after my dad left. Norm Cooper, was a great mentor in my early days as a geophysicist. And my dad. I thought he was a musical god. He was magic on the piano. Never a lesson, played by ear. I must also mention my mother – after dad left, she went into mourning for about a year, but then emerged from the cocoon of being “Mrs. Bill Martin” to being ‘Ruby’. She became a very strong woman because she had 4 kids that were counting on her.
Who is your hero – real or mythical – who inspires you?
...Captain James T. Kirk because, for me, Star Trek represented hope for our civilization and the romance of space travel.
Work life balance?
… I’m working too much these days, but am able to get to the gym a few times a week, and have most evening free to practise my music and sing. I had my dream trip last year to Bhutan – a small Buddhist country nestled between Indian and Tibet, just a stone’s throw east of Nepal. That bought me serenity for many months…
What are you reading?
… just finished The Natural by Bernard Malumud – downloaded it on my KOBO. I have a mound of mostly half-read self-help books on my nightstand. (is there a self-help book for that?)
… golf cart, bike, C-train and bus – and my 1996 Mercedes 280C. I just gave her a facelift so Sadie is lookin’ fiiiiiine
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