Chair's Corner - August 2021

Chair's Corner - August 2021

The SPE-GCS extends a warm welcome to our new chair, Nii Ahele Nunoo. We thought we’d introduce him by sharing part of our conversation.

Connect: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in Houston, Texas?

Nii Ahele Nunoo: I was born in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, an oil-producing country in sub-Saharan Africa on the west coast.

After college, I moved to New York in 2008 to find a job during the economic recession. To increase my chances of landing an engineering position, I soon relocated to Houston. During my early years in Houston, I watched the movie “Big Men” about the oil discovery in Ghana. It solidified my resolve to be a part of the oil and gas industry and learn all I could, so I could one day return home to help grow the industry in Ghana.

With a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from Minnesota State University, Mankato, I spent several years working for National Oilwell Varco in their downhole division, designing smart tools for drilling automation.

Connect: What is so special about Houston and the Gulf Coast region?

Nii Ahele Nunoo: Houston is the fourth-most populated city in the nation. Over the past several years, it’s been a major hub for energy innovation, and the high concentration of energy industry experience and expertise has led to many people relocating to the area in the last few decades. As an energy professional in Houston, you have all the energy companies at your fingertips.

Diversity of thought and leadership have played a key role in the energy ecosystem here, in that different branches of the industry can cross-pollinate, share knowledge and work on projects together, while leveraging expertise and knowledge across the value chain.

SPE-GCS has been a solid source of support, with respect to engagement with other energy professionals, technical knowledge dissemination and industry networking events. SPE-GCS also fosters an environment to impact the region in a positive way, which reflects the organization’s support for the community.

Connect: How has SPE helped you in your professional life?

Nii Ahele Nunoo: I have been blessed as a member of this outstanding organization. SPE has given me the platform to develop as a professional in the industry and to build relationships, network and give in a way I never dreamed I would be able to do. Even with my non-traditional background in electronic engineering, SPE provided me with the platform, early in my career, to organize workshops and take part in events, while at the same time building my technical acumen. I have also been fortunate to have excellent mentors along the way. From my own experience, I can confidently say that SPE provides the platform for professionals from all walks of life to positively impact society.

Connect: What are your plans for SPE-GCS for 2021-22?

Nii Ahele Nunoo: The former section chairs, Simeon Eburi and Gabby Morrow, did a phenomenal job managing the section during the pandemic and a period of low oil prices. I must also give credit to Simeon for introducing some key initiatives, such as the GCS Podcast and the Diversity and Inclusion Study Group.

My plan is to focus on furthering the mission and goals of SPE. To attain this, the section needs to boost its membership. We need to engage the members we lost during the pandemic and come up with initiatives and workshops to re-engage members who have been out of the workforce and are trying to get back into the industry. I am a firm believer that with a solid membership base, we will be able to meet the goals of the organization.

This current set of leaders will continue to engage members through virtual and face-to-face events, while maintaining COVID protocols and guidelines from local authorities and the World Health Organization. My main focus areas for this year are: to organize safe events for our volunteers; increase and engage membership; set up a sustainability study group to organize events, workshops and seminars to educate the section on how we can position ourselves in the new energy sector; and development of the section app. Most importantly, I want to continue raising money to support our scholarship program, and help our MiT members through ongoing career transitions.

If you want to hear more, please join us at the SPE-GCS annual kickoff meeting later this month! 

Nii Nunoo Quick Take

Technical discipline that has made the most impact on my career: drilling automation

Must-haves for YPs to succeed: diligence and dedication

Sports I follow: Duke basketball

Last business trip: Midland, Texas

Last book I read: “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know” by Adam Grant