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Les Riley
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
West Midlands
First Degree: 
BSc (Hons) Geology
Consultant biostratigrapher: Oil & Gas Exploration & Production
60 earth years
Works For: 
Riley Geoscience Ltd
BSc, PhD
Pet Hates: 
Inability to adequately converse in a foreign language
The ability to time travel: 1. To scuba dive in the “Burgess shale sea”. 2. To witness the K/T impact (and survive!). 3. To go back in time with Richard Dawkins (and a cine-camera) to proof to the sceptics that man did not walk with the dinosaurs!
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
Initially and yes, the obvious one – a steam loco driver/ Much later possibly pharmacy
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
The fun (and explosions) in the school chemistry lab – then I found a fossil (the Silurian Dudley bug from the Wren’s Nest) !! Which led to an interest in geology
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
The challenge of problem solving (stratigraphy is a 4-D jigsaw – with most of the pieces missing!
What would you change? 
Would have become a consultant much earlier (started in 1993)
What qualifications did you take at school? 
O (8) & A –levels (3)
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
BSc Hons. 2.1 Geology Love of fossils & geological field work (plus a lack of any real maths!)
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
A geologist - hopefully assisting companies to find & produce commercial hydrocarbons
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
The ongoing (and never ending) revision, update and at times rejection of geological models as the knowledge base / experience grows
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Hopefully assist in a continuation (albeit perhaps limited) of a global energy source
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Finding new fossils. Suddenly seeing the light with regard to a potential geological model and / or a problematical geological correlation
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
From a junior employed position, to a reasonably well recognized consultant
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Acts as an interface between petroleum geology, sedimentology and geophysics and provides a “time-stratigraphic framework” for modeling etc
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
Very well! Starting in the region of £25K, rising to potentially £100K+
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
Perhaps more complex and certainly more exciting as smaller and smaller hydrocarbon fields are searched for
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
A lack of public understanding in what I do
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Becoming the first biostratigrapher to be recognized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists as a “Certified Petroleum Geologist”
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
Quite a few do not really understand what I do. Then there are the “doom & gloom merchants” because I am “contributing to global pollution”!
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Reading, travel, good food & old world (red) wines
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I felt that there should be need for professional status (as a lot of countries insist on) in order to maintain prof standards and integrity
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
Highly important, for both the individual and industry – as a yardstick to experience and career development
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Get yourself a relevant higher degree and try to get a summer internship
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Highly important
How would you define “professionalism”? 
No plagiarism and produce something to the best of your ability and experience. Never distort the data & facts to “fit a model”. Accept criticism as part of your learning curve and admit to mistakes, rather than maintaining an “error
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
Very little
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
He did his best, some good work and he contributed to geological understanding / knowledge
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