• Clements High School - 1994
  • University of Texas at Austin, BS in Mechanical Engineering - 1998
  • Harvard Business School, MBA - 2004

Entering college, I had no intention of going to work in the oil industry. I had watched my parents, both of whom worked in the industry, go through round after round of layoffs, and it held little appeal. Also, what high schooler wants to be just like their parents? Moreover, the science of fluid flow through porous media was not my interest – I was far more drawn to more tangible aspects of engineering, like machines and structures. With the bubble headed into full swing, there were lots of more interesting options, I thought. 

There was one complication though. I had been fortunate enough to receive an SPE-GCS scholarship coming out of high school, and maintaining that scholarship required that I demonstrate tangible steps towards a career in oil and gas. As a mechanical engineering student, this meant joining the SPE Student Chapter and applying for internships with oil companies. When I was applying during my sophomore year, the only engineering companies willing to hire a student only two years into college were oil companies hiring for field positions. That summer, I went to work offshore as a roustabout for BP in the Gulf of Mexico. What I realized over the next two years was that the energy industry was behind everything that made our society work and made our standards of living high. I learned that it was among the most globally connected industries, a fact that appealed to my sense of adventure and deep interest in politics. The pay was great, and it afforded me the opportunity at a young age to travel, live and work overseas. As for the big machines and structures that were more my style, well, I’d gotten to crawl inside gas compressors the size of a semi-trailer after flying on a helicopter to land on some of the biggest structures in the ocean.

When I graduated, I turned down offers in consulting and dot.coms to go to work for BP.

My early career path included working in the upstream for BP for about five years in a variety of engineering and commercial roles, including an expatriate assignment in London. After that, I attended Harvard, where I received my MBA, and then re-entered the energy industry through various entrepreneurial ventures. I am now CEO of an oilfield waste management service company, which is funded by one of the largest private equity groups in the world.

My SPE-GCS scholarship created the impetus behind my exploration into a career in the oil industry despite my relatively superficial knowledge of it going into college. It also provided me credibility as an applicant for internships that cemented my pathway toward a good career in the industry. My advice to students is to make it a point connect with and find mentors in the industry through SPE, as they can be invaluable as you look for jobs and guidance over the next few years.