EurGeol of the month: Francisco Igualada

“European Geologist of the month” is a new category of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we interview Francisco Igualada, Senior Mining Specialist at the World Bank.

Name: Francisco Igualada
EurGeol title number: 148
Country: Spain

In which country do you currently work? – Since I am working for the World Bank (Energy & Extractives Global Practice), we have engagements with a number of countries but in my case mainly in Africa: Dem. Rep. of Congo, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Guatemala and Laos PDR etc… I am also involved in a wide African project aimed at developing geological mapping as pre-competitive data for the continent (AMGI).

In which field of geology do you work? – Mineral Exploration, Geological Mapping & Geophysics, Remote Sensing & GIS, Oil & Gas, Engineering Geology and CO2 geological storage.

Other – Hydrogeology

Could you give us your opinion on the advisability of being member of a professional association? – A professional association brings credibility and also accountability to the table. Very often I have to provide an opinion on specific technical issues and being part of a recognised organisation that can be referred across continents as a reference body is always a good credential when dealing with authorities in various countries. Besides I believe Europe needs to have a professional body to be able to compare certifications and skills across the continent. On top of this since I am based in United States being member of a professional body allows me to inter act & deal as well with equivalent bodies and professionals certified for US and Canada.

Could you explain why you applied for the European Geologist title? – I applied for the EurGeol title back in 1998. I was one of the few in Spain to have the title. I understood, at that time, when I was working for the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC) that a title endorsed at a continental level could be very useful to bring support to the roles I was performing as senior geo-information analyst. Later on I moved to the private sector and it was certainly important to have such an accreditation as it occurs in USA, Australia & Canada. At a later stage of my career I was working nearly 6 years for United Nations and I become director of the Geospatial Information Centre in Italy and for that international organisation accreditations, beyond academic titles, were very important to measure skills and practical expertise for managers.

Do you consider that these titles represent an added value for finding a job? – You know that the job market is very complicated and sometimes what is important is to be ready for changes no matter where one is deployed to work especially for a geologist or engineer. We cannot pretend to work at home or close to our country. It is definitively an asset to a professional profile. However, I do not think this may become a decisive selection criteria but I am sure the EurGeol title always adds value to other sets of criteria.

What does this title allow you to do? – The title is as said earlier an accreditation that allows the title holder to sign off technical evaluation reports thus, providing the right level of confidence. Also the title allows to locate competent persons for PERC (European) that are comparable to other Qualified Persons (QP) from JORC or NI43-101. This is often of value when issuing press releases. In my case advising to governments requires technical guarantees and the title is one more together with years of experience and other qualifications.

Currently a demand of geologists exists abroad. Would you advise unemployed geologists to look for a job outside (your country)? – The market for geologists is naturally looking abroad or beyond European boundaries. Obviously, a professional title requires long years of experience to be really useful as a credibility measure. From my view a young geologist needs to work first, no matter where, to gain such experience through their academic and professional domains and only afterwards, it comes the professional certification that may clearly help to be considered in a more senior job selection process. When I finished my MSc in Geology in 1981, then I immediately realised that I had to move abroad as there were no jobs in Spain and I went to South Africa where I found, once I was there, a very challenging work as exploration geologist that opened many professional perspectives. I would certainly recommend this approach.

Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us more about your international experiences? – Out of my more than 30 years of experience I would say that more than 20 years I spent in projects abroad. Surprisingly, when I come back from South Africa the people from the company/organisation BoPGS there asked me to identify geologists. Then I went to the University in Barcelona and it turned out that people preferred doing geology… in Barcelona, this may tell you the mentality at that time even if there were unemployed. Now the situation has changed and most of the geologists realise that without moving abroad it is almost impossible to come back and get a proper job.

Are professional titles useful abroad? – Certainly, a professional title like EurGeol is very useful and also a requirement like is becoming the PMI from project management institute or even an MBA and many other accreditation bodies. An important feature of those titles is that there are agreements of mutual recognition between USA, Canada and Europe and this favours professional mobility in an increasingly competitive environment. The titles are also important elements for mineral exploration companies in order to present a mineral asset so that funding can be obtained considering the qualifications of the management team. In my job at the World Bank it is very well regarded as we need to engage in quality control and valuation and the first thing is to have certainty of the type of staff that we have on board.

More information on the EurGeol title: http://eurogeologists.eu/eurgeol-title