Face Behind the Data: Jess Kozman, Senior Principal Consultant

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Face Behind the Data Profiles Jess Kozman, Senior Principal Consultant

Get to know the faces that are working hard behind the scenes to unleash your data’s potential.

This month for our Face Behind the Data profile series, we are excited to introduce our new team member, Jess Kozman, Senior Principal Consultant. Jess has a colorful history within the  oil and gas industry, a plethora of knowledge and a diverse resume. Throughout his career, Jess has worn many hats and we are honored for him to join Katalyst.

Jess will be a valuable addition to the team, bringing his background in exploration, geophysics and data management amongst others, and we’re excited he could contribute his experience to Face Behind the Data, a series of profiles that feature the hard-working employees behind the solutions and services at Katalyst.

What is your educational and work experience background?

Here’s a good way to put it in perspective:

  • Yesterday I was looking at strategic data capability assessments.
  • Last week I was working on industry greenhouse gas emission reporting standards.
  • A month ago I was teaching data governance roles and responsibilities.
  • A year ago I was leading a cloud based data ecosystem implementation.
  • 5 years ago I was in Abu Dhabi delivering a project to streamline upstream information management for ADNOC.
  • 10 years ago I was deploying geotagging software at Rio Tinto in Perth.
  • 15 years ago I was designing a data management outsourcing plan for PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur.
  • 20 years ago I was with GeoQuest in Houston working on hierarchical storage management systems.
  • 25 years ago I was at Burlington Resources supporting onshore exploration UNIX applications.
  • 30 years ago I was in Dallas, mapping gravity fields over salt domes for ENSERCH Exploration.
  • 40 years ago I was interpreting seismic data for Texaco in Midland, Texas.
  • 50 years ago I was visiting glacial sandstone formations in Wisconsin as a school crossing guard.
  • 60 years ago I was catching crayfish in a creek outside of Chicago, Illinois.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

  • Being the Global Technical Deployment Manager from Schlumberger, the largest oilfield services company on the planet, to ExxonMobil, the largest corporation on the planet (and not screwing it up).
  • Having two of my international staff become naturalized American citizens.
  • Managing unstructured data for the world’s largest industrial handover of an operating asset in Qatar (and only screwing it up a little).
  • Being invited to Malay, Vietnamese, Indian, and Singaporean weddings while living in Southeast Asia.
  • Deploying a multi-petabyte seismic data system on all 6 populated continents within one year.
  • Drilling my first successful well in New Mexico.
  • Submitting an environmental plan for my first seismic survey that mitigated the impact on local wildlife.
  • Doing field work on a survey vessel in the Bahamas for my Michigan State University geology degree.

Did you grow up wanting to be a data manager?

No, I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau. But, I discovered that to be an oceanographer, you had to study one of the physical sciences, and that got me into geology. I had taken computer science in university and when the oil companies started laying people off in the 1980’s, I realized I could keep my job by saying “I’m the only one who can back up the data on the computer” (and yes, there was ONE computer).

How did you get here?

I have been coming to Australia for business for over 20 years, and I was amazed by the places to visit on a weekend trip from the capital cities. I recently completed a four year fixed term contract assignment with Woodside, and my wife and I have known people from Katalyst for years, so when an opportunity to remain in Australia with KDM and continue living in the Perth Hills came up, I jumped on it.

What are some big lessons learned and/or challenges faced along the way?

Technological change will always threaten to outpace our ability to adapt, but optimum accepted practices remain relevant. In a cyclical business such as energy, and a small and incestuous field like petro-technical data management, the challenge is to never burn a bridge and always maintain your networks and contacts. The person across from you at lunch may be your team member, or your boss, tomorrow. Best lesson learned? “Never try to improve your golf game”.

What advice do you have for people beginning their career?

Geology is an observational science. If you are going to work with geotechnical data, never forget that it is “all about the rocks”. Take every opportunity to get out in the field and learn from regional experts.

Are there any organizations or volunteer groups that you are passionate about?

I have been working with PPDM since the 1990’s and continue to advocate for K-12 STEM education outreach. Recently, I have been working on a project to translate Australian geology field guides into indigenous first languages, so geologists can learn from the oral history of traditional owners of the land.

What are some of your favorite things to do and/or places to visit outside of work?

Catherine and I started taking our kids on random road trips as soon as they could travel (favorite whine from the back seat: “Oh Dad, not another ROCK!”), and we continue our adventures today. I am an avid hiker and backpacker and cannot resist scrambling up a rock face (even without an obvious track). I also have a working background in community theatre and arts and I am currently doing the show lighting for the Kalamunda Jazz Club.

Photo Credit: Midland Community Theatre, Moliere’s Tartuffe,1981