The energy industry, and in particular oil and gas, provides a great case for the high value intrinsic in integrating business and engineering degrees within the M&T program. The oil and gas industry is one of many industries where employees are valued not just for the ability to understand business or engineering problems alone, but for their ability to think about the two at the intersection point. Working in an industry where that intersection is so critical allows students to not only see the value in their degrees and hard work, but also provides a framework with which they can approach their classroom and extracurricular engagements on campus.
My experience in the energy industry ranges widely across the management and technology spectrum, which has allowed me to use many aspects of my education and also get a solid grasp and understanding of the industry. I spent my freshman summer working in the Financial Accounting and Reporting group of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which allowed me to work on some very interesting financing transactions and to get a feel for a corporate office. After that summer I wanted to get a more technical engineering experience, so I spent my winter break out on Devon Energy Corporation drilling rigs in the middle-of-nowhere East Texas drilling the James Lime and the Cotton Valley Sands. Working 12 hours on, 12 hours off and living on the rig was an amazing immersive experience that really helped me grasp the technical underpinnings of the industry. It’s truly amazing to see that millions of dollars’ worth of fluid and machinery go in and out of a hole eight inches in diameter! For me, this experience also highlighted that my true passion lay in the business side of the industry, so I spent last summer doing energy-specific investment banking for Jefferies and Co. down in Houston. Over the course of my experiences, I saw how intertwined the business and technical aspects are. The drilling engineers are constantly trying to trim costs and innovate processes to generate higher NPV projects, while the investment bankers have to learn the technical lingo and processes of the engineers to complete deals.
The M&T community at Penn has been a great way to further my industry knowledge and passion as well. Last year, Don Humphreys, who was the Principal Financial Officer of ExxonMobil, came to talk and recruit at an M&T-specific event where he highlighted the value and talent he saw in the program. Like most things, it comes down to the people, and Penn has some amazing talent in the energy industry. Shahaab wrote about understanding innovation in MGMT 237, and for our final project in that class we wrote about the rapid pace of innovation in the oil and gas industry. That was a great opportunity to engage dynamically with a team of individuals who are also passionate about the industry including fellow M&T Ann who will be returning to ConocoPhillips on the engineering side for her second summer, and M&T Ryan who has been running a solar energy startup and will be working in the ExxonMobil Production Company this summer. This is just one of many examples of why the M&T Program at Penn is a phenomenal place to learn and engage with others about energy.
Garrett is a current M&T junior in the Class of 2014. He studies Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics within Penn Engineering and concentrates in Finance in the Wharton School. In his free time he runs the Pennsylvania Investment Alliance and is involved in Hillel and his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.