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GEM’s Gems September 2014 – Eric Bassingthwaighte

August 28, 2014

Eric Bassingthwaighte

Eric Bassingthwaighte

Although he only began the GEM Program a couple months ago, Cohort XII’s Eric Bassingthwaighte is already excelling in the program.

“The GEM program will formally provide the foundation needed to take my business and my career to the next level,” he said. “I have really enjoyed my experience thus far and look forward to learning more from the program and my classmates.”

Bassingthwaighte, 36,  is currently the Principal of Fuel Risk Management (FRM). FRM is an advisory firm for transportation-intensive, midsize companies and employs the best practices of large commodity risk managers to help clients financially acquire fuel at more favorable prices. On behalf of its clients, FRM trades options on futures and futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to manage price risk of diesel, gasoline, and related products.

Bassingthwaighte, who holds a degree in sociology from Duke University, chose the GEM Program to further his education in the energy industry.

“The GEM program has been fantastic,” he said. “I can best describe my experience as being better able to ‘connect the dots.’ With so many variables intricately correlated to one another, the GEM program has given me better understanding of how the global energy markets function under certain conditions.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

My role as the principal of FRM has given me the unique experience of actively engaging in all functions of the company. I am solely responsible for every aspect of FRM including but not limited to: marketing, trading, compliance, relationship management, and sales. I have successfully implemented FRM’s hedging strategies into my clients’ operations. I create all marketing material and methodology, originate and develop client relationships, perform technical and fundamental analysis for the hedging strategy, and design and executive trades for my corporate clients.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
Managing my clients’ exposure to fuel price risk has been very rewarding. I truly enjoy the fast-paced and dynamic nature of the energy markets. It is quite an experience to hear major news hit the wire and see prices react in real time, especially when you consider today’s volatility.

What are some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?
When class ends for the day, I only have two questions: What vegetarian restaurant am I going to? How much sleep can I get tonight?

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?
That’s easy: Skinnygirl™ Water Enhancer; Flavor: Blueberry Acai; 5 Calories, 24 Servings; It is the most embarrassing part of my trip to the grocery store (especially since I buy at least 10 at time).

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.
After our first cohort weekend, I went on a trip to Hawaii with my wife. We stayed in Oahu near the North Shore. As soon as I spotted the Kawailoa Wind Farm, I was obsessed about getting as close to it as possible. After multiple failed attempts in my rental car, I hit the Internet. I tracked down the Community Outreach Coordinator for First Wind and asked if I could visit the wind farm. Unfortunately, we connected too late. The story has a good ending since the coordinator guaranteed my access to the wind farm upon my next trip to Oahu.


GEM’s Gems August 2014 – Sally Hagan

August 18, 2014

Sally Hagan, the GEM’s Gem we are honoring this month, worked her way into the energy industry after being accepted into the Global Energy Management Program. She is now a Sales Leader at General Electric Oil & Gas – Artificial Lift, Power to Lift.

Sally Hagan

Sally Hagan

“The GEM program gave me the confidence I needed to break into the industry and to make it happen with a global giant like GE,” she said. “Keeping in touch with classmates and professors has also helped to further my knowledge of the industry.”

Hagan was a member of GEM’s Cohort VI. As a student, she participated in both Special Topics courses offered by the GEM Program in Washington, D.C. and London. “I’ll never forget the fun nights on the town, both in D.C. and London, after the long days,” she added.

Hagan’s adventures continued well after enrolling in GEM. Shortly before finishing her degree, she started taking ballroom dancing classes.  She has already participated in two competitions and has another performance coming up in November of 2014.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I am part of a new product initiative with the GE Oil & Gas Artificial Lift division called Power to Lift.  My main responsibility is to create awareness for this product and be able to effectively communicate the solution to uncover opportunities/needs with the many oil & gas exploration and production companies in North America. This innovative product is a natural gas-driven (well gas) rich burn engine that provides up to 1MW of power/1380 horsepower for all well site electrical needs, mainly artificial lift methods.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?

I mostly enjoy learning about the complex technologies that are being developed to not only bring necessary hydrocarbons to the surface of the earth for our vast energy needs, but also the healthy, clean manner at which this is being done.  I also enjoy my interactions with the various engineering disciplines needed to make all this “stuff” possible.  I am learning A TON!!

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends? 

I was part of Cohort 6 (the very best Cohort to date, I might add). The best part about our cohort weekends was catching up with our out-of-town students and, although brutal at times, gaining the 40+ hours of face-to-face instruction from the GEM professors.

What are some of the things that you never forgot to bring to cohort weekends?

I tried really hard never to forget some extra clothing for the ever-fluctuating temperatures in the classroom and money for some adult beverages after class.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

I decided it was time to further my education and was happy to find a master’s program that fit with my interest in the energy industry and would help continue to develop my business acumen.

GEM alumnus receives scholarship to Oil & Money Conference

August 5, 2014

Chris LongwellChris Longwell, a Global Energy Management Program alumnus, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the Oil & Money Conference in London this fall. He will join the world’s most influential decision-makers for two days of high-level discussion and debate on the crucial issues facing the international energy sector.

 “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to represent the GEM program at the conference, and I’m looking forward most to the discussions of the opening of the Mexican Oil & Gas industry to international companies,” Longwell said. “I hope to catch up on all the changes the European and North & South American Oil & Gas Industries have gone through since I have lived in Australia for the last three-and-a-half years.

Longwell received the scholarship that was available to alumni upon nomination from the GEM Program. The Oil & Money Conference will take place from October 29-30 at The InterContinental, Park Lane, London.

“My unique and varied career gives me a strong understanding of the oil & gas industry and the international energy trading market which will allow me to be an active participant in the 2014 Oil & Money Conference,” Longwell said.

The scholarship includes economy airline travel, hotel accommodations for a two-night stay, admission to the Oil & Money Conference and the Petroleum Executive of the Year Dinner.

Longwell is a Senior Drilling Engineer at Santos Limited in their Offshore Australia Team and was a member of GEM’s Cohort IV. He has held many engineering roles covering most of the lifecycle of Oil & Gas exploration, production, and abandonment.

 He has worked in the oil and gas industry for 11 years across the United States, Central China, Offshore Vietnam, Tajikistan, and Onshore & Offshore Australia.

The Oil & Money Conference, organized jointly by the International New York Times and Energy Intelligence, has a proud 35-year heritage of bringing together leaders in the worlds of energy and finance to network with other influential peers, exchange expert insights, and develop strategies & solutions for the most pressing energy issues.

GEM’s Gems July 2014 – Col. John Turner, Ph.D.

July 31, 2014
Col. John Turner, Ph.D., former Executive Director of the Global Energy Management (GEM) Program at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, enjoying retirement in Sarasota, Florida.

Col. John Turner, Ph.D., former Executive Director of the Global Energy Management (GEM) Program at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, is enjoying retirement in Sarasota, Florida.

Col. John Turner, Ph.D., former Executive Director of the Global Energy Management (GEM) Program at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, served the United States Air Force for 35 years.

“I had the pleasure and honor of being a squadron commander, a comptroller, the director of economics, a financial fraud investigator, a capital budgeting analyst, and many years being a kind of ‘fixer’ where they would send me places to solve problems and develop and implement new programs the Air Force wanted done,” he said. “It was a very interesting and fun career.”

Turner has been stationed in Texas, Missouri, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Alabama. He enlisted in the military directly out of high school in 1960 when he was 17 years old.

“I spent four years enlisted, all in Duluth, Minnesota, which I discovered is the coldest place on the planet,” he joked.

At the end of Turner’s first tour, the Air Force asked him to re-enlist. He agreed to continue his service as long as the recruiter met his two conditions:

“First, I want to be entered into the Airman’s Education Commissioning Program where the Air Force sends you to a university of your choice and commissions you a Second Lieutenant upon graduation,” Turner said. “[Secondly] I wanted to be transferred out of Duluth, Minnesota. The recruiter said they could do that. I asked where would they send me and he said Thule, Greenland. I decided to get out and put myself through college.”

Turner graduated from Ball State University in 1967, with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and then went on to attain a master’s degree in economics, also from Ball State University. In 1973, he applied for a direct commission in the Missouri Air National Guard, was accepted, and served one more year enlisted. He was then awarded a direct commission as a Second Lieutenant.

In 1979, Turner received a doctorate degree in economics from St. Louis University. In 1996, he earned a second master’s degree in national security analysis from The Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He retired from the Air Force in 2002 at the rank of Colonel (O-6).

Upon his retirement in 2002, he moved back to Denver and began teaching economics and finance full-time at the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

What do you enjoy most about the energy industry?

The people. People are everything. Without them, you cannot accomplish much of anything. I found people in the energy industry to be highly industrious and entrepreneurial, which I loved very much. Along with the people, actually building the GEM program was the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my association with the energy industry. However, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Without the support of the energy industry and my superb GEM staff as well the faculty and administration at CU Denver, the GEM Program would never have come into existence. GEM was the first program ever designed specifically to provide industry employees with management and leadership education and skills tailored specifically to the energy industry itself. Most every other business degree is more generic in nature, readily adaptable to many different industries. GEM is the only degree program specifically designed to provide the business skills needed to successfully run energy companies. It is also designed for both experienced energy industry employees and people wanting to move into the industry.

The success of GEM, and more importantly, the success of GEM’s graduates is the crowing point of my life. And, I will unequivocally state that my success, and the success of the GEM Program and its graduates is not due to me. Rather, it is due to the people I was smart enough to select to run and administer the GEM Program. They are the ones who did all the hard work and put in all the effort to make it happen. Listing the real heroes and leaders of GEM, in the order that I recall hiring them are Sarah Derdowski, Catherine Steffek, Sarah Loughran, Lizzy McNaney-Juster, Michele Motley and Katie Looby, and taking my place: Jim Marchiori. These are the people who have made the GEM Program the success it is for the industry and all the students and graduates of the program. I, as I like to say, was just the “pretty face” out front (admittedly, there are those that might challenge that particular metaphor). In addition, I would also like to thank Dean Sueann Ambron and Associate Deans JC Bosch and Cliff Young as well as the entire faculty and staff at the Business School who were so helpful and supportive as we built the program.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

Talking with the students. Getting to know them. Hearing their stories. Working with them and the GEM staff on any administrative issues or concerns that came up. Overall, GEM is about people and helping them achieve their education and career goals. That is what always brought me the most enjoyment during cohort weekends.

Is there anything else new in your life that you would like to add?

In June of last year, I realized I had accomplished the three things I had set out to do five years earlier. First, to get the GEM program, designed, approved, staffed and implemented. Second, to make it the best energy leadership and management program in the industry. Third, recruit, train and turn the program over to the best staff in the world and allow them to take it to the next higher level. Those goals were accomplished. Therefore, I concluded it was time to get down off the horse and let others ride it. So, on October 17 of last year, I officially retired.

Once I announced to my family my intention to retire, they all asked me to move to Florida where most of them reside. In addition, over the years many of my friends moved there as well. So, in August of last year, I bought a home in Sarasota, Florida, and moved there when my retirement from CU Denver and GEM became official last October. It is good to be with family and old friends I have there. I am enjoying it immensely. Sarasota is right on the Gulf of Mexico about half way down the peninsula. So, now instead of working, I spend my time walking on the beach, stopping and having a relaxing drink at a beach bar, listening to Jimmy Buffet songs, watching the bright red Florida sun slowly set into the Gulf of Mexico and savoring 80-degree winters. As that happens, I think: “Wonder what all my dear friends in GEM and Denver are doing right now?” Then, I smile and order another drink.



GEM’s Gems July 2014 – Eddie Billmeyer

July 24, 2014
Eddie Billmeyer

Eddie Billmeyer

Following high school, GEM alumnus Eddie Billmeyer joined the Navy out of a sense of duty and opportunity.

“I wanted to go through the academic rigor of the Navy’s nuclear power program and I didn’t want to be saddled with college debt,” he said.

He trained as a nuclear machinist’s mate, which is comparable to a nuclear power plant operator in the civilian sector. Following training, Billmeyer was stationed in Everett, Washington onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Billmeyer, a member of Cohort IX, chose the GEM Program because it allowed him to strengthen his business and leadership skills without having to sacrifice time on coursework that wasn’t necessarily relevant to his desired profession.

“Above all, GEM has significantly broadened my understanding of the entire energy sector,” he said. “I find myself routinely applying newly learned principles to address new challenges.”

Billmeyer, 29, is now employed with the Bureau of Reclamation as a Control Operator.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

As a control operator, my duties are to ensure the safe operation of hydroelectric generating facilities within the Northern California Area Office. A typical day involves electrical and mechanical equipment inspections at various facilities, performing equipment isolations to enable system maintenance, and coordinating with internal and external entities to ensure reliability of power and water resources.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?

The availability of electricity can literally impact life and death. So, being able to efficiently provide that resource in a safe, clean and reliable manner is very rewarding.

What are some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

Cohort weekends integrate high caliber instruction and industry professionals. This mixture provides remarkable networking opportunity that continues beyond graduation.

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?

An appetite. Not for food, though (although the breakfast is quite delicious). If you don’t bring an appetite for learning by the shovel full, then you’ll be missing a great opportunity and will likely regret something later in the quarter.

Is there anything else new in your life that you would like to add?

I gave up the tobacco. Any GEM student would acknowledge that balancing a full-time job with a graduate program is tough … I guess that I just wanted to make it tougher.

Business plans of GEM alumni moving forward

July 24, 2014
Joel Poppert

Joel Poppert

The Global Energy Management (GEM) Program is thrilled to announce that its alumni took second and third place in the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

GEM alumni Ian Jaeger and Sean Wisner, both members of the GEM Program’s Cohort VIII, received second place and $5,000. Their business plan was for SuperCryt Technologies, a Colorado based clean-tech business focused on water decontamination using a process known as Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO).

Jaeger and Wisner are now taking additional steps to put their business plan into action.

“We’ve been making some modifications to the financials based on feedback received at the Competition, and Ian has been speaking with potential partners/investors,” Wisner said.

Jaeger, 34, started his career as a materials and processes engineer with a degree in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. His partner, Wisner, has four years of experience working in both upstream oil & gas and midstream gas marketing. He received his undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Montana.

GEM alumnus Joel Poppert and his business partner James Adams received third place and $2,500. They outlined GeoCity, a vertically integrated development company established for the purpose of financing, developing, and managing geothermal infrastructure assets.

“I plan to use the money to pay for some trademarking and incorporation documents that have already been produced,” Poppert said. “The remaining funds will be used to travel several times to New York to meet with investors and whiteboard with my primary business partner and COO, James Adams. This is an exciting time for us. We welcome conversations with any interested stakeholders and, especially, investors right now.”

Poppert, CEO of GeoCity, has nearly a decade of successful entrepreneurial experience in the geothermal industry. He was awarded the Who’s Who in Energy from the National Business Journals in both 2013 and 2014. James Adams, COO of GeoCity, currently works for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Capital Projects and Infrastructure advisory practice.

“The opportunity for GeoCity is very significant at the moment and will continue to be in the future,” Poppert said. “With the new EPA carbon regulations we expect that our finance solutions will be welcomed at the policy level. As the market continues to trend toward sustainability, GeoCity provides ways to both reduce construction costs and significantly increase the value of the building by providing a form of ‘off balance’ finance to install a superior geothermal heating and cooling system through our GeoCity Thermal Purchase Agreement.”



GEM’s Gems July 2014 – Cliff Young

July 21, 2014

During the month of July, the GEM Program would like to thank all military veterans who are a part of the GEM Community for their service. Throughout the month, our GEM’s Gem blog is celebrating the accomplishments of several of these patriots.

Cliff Young, Associate Dean of Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, graduated

Cliff Young, Associate Dean of Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, is photographed in front of a T-38.

Cliff Young, Associate Dean of Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, is photographed in front of a T-38.

from college in 1969 at a time when the Vietnam War draft was in full force. “I realized I needed to make a decision or it would be made for me so I applied for pilot training in the U.S. Air Force,” Young said.

He was accepted to the Officer Training School and later to pilot training at Webb Air Force Base, TX.

“I went straight into the front seat of the F-4 and went through combat crew training in California,” he said. “My first regular assignment was Kunsan, Korea in February 1972.”

On April 1, 1972, Young’s squadron was sent down to Vietnam where he spent the next six-and-a-half months flying combat missions in both North and South Vietnam.

Young personally flew 102 missions with 34 over North Vietnam. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals.

“I was in two Mig fights: one where the Mig snuck up behind me and fired a heat-seeking missile at me. Thanks to my flight lead, who saw the Mig and called for a max performance turn, I was able to dodge the missile,” he said. “The second attack was much more in my favor where I was able to shoot down the Mig with a heat seeking missile.”

This photo of Cliff Young (center), Associate Dean of Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, was taken the same day of his Mig fight.

This photo of Cliff Young (center), Associate Dean of Faculty at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, was taken the same day of his Mig fight.

After Vietnam, Young went back to Korea and was a guest instructor pilot with the Korean Air Force who were upgrading to F-4s. Returning home, he was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico where he instructed fighter pilots.

“While I was at Holloman, I was able to obtain my MBA through a special on-base program,” Young said. “I resigned my commission in 1976 and went back to school to obtain my doctorate.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I’m currently Associate Dean of Faculty for the Business School. As such I oversee the faculty and financial resources of the Business School. I also directly oversee the Global Energy Management program.

What do you enjoy most about your position at the university?

I am most happy when I see that I can be of service to the School and programs at the university. The faculty and programs are what drive the School. I want to be able to help as much as possible.

 Please share a story about GEM or working at the CU Denver Business School that will entertain other students.

I was directly involved and worked with John Turner who developed and proposed the new MS GEM program. As part of the process, I presented the proposal to the Regents of Colorado. One of the regents asked me, “Do you mean that you have created a program that directly fits the needs of the industry?” I, of course, acknowledged yes, to which she replied that we need more programs like this. It turned out to be a very easy sell to the regents.


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