Skip to content

GEM’s Gems October 2015: Willem Vlotman

October 15, 2015
Willem Vlotman

Willem Vlotman

I am currently an Advisor for ExxonMobil’s new Business Development team in Europe. As part of my day-to-day activities I tend to parachute into projects as a subject matter expert, workhorse and focal point bringing together diverse experts to construct new business development opportunities for senior level consideration. Often we will be looking at the pursuit and capture of oil and gas resources through license tenders, negotiations and farm-ins and constructing preliminary plans to assess technical and commercial risks and uncertainties. It is an exciting role, which has let me travel to Austria, Romania, USA and Azerbaijan to engage with counterparties and stakeholders. My favorite part of the role is the opportunity it gives me to interact across what is a huge organization and learn from each and every individual. I often spend my days talking to geologists about the subsurface risks in a particular country then moving on to discuss country fiscal stability with tax lawyers and public affairs experts, then engaging development engineers to discuss optimal pipeline landing points and costs before finally sitting down at my desk and piecing it all together into a proposal.

I’m a bit of a global nomad having grown up across the world, happily following (being dragged) around by my parents to countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Nepal, Australia and The Netherlands. After graduating high school from Cairo American College in Egypt I decided to pursue a bachelors and masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Manchester in England. Towards the end of my time in Manchester I was accepted for an intern position within ExxonMobil’s Gas & Power Marketing group in London and happily accepted a graduate position there after finishing my Masters. I have spent 8 years working with ExxonMobil in London with a brief two-year hiatus during which I was seconded to Shell in Aberdeen, Scotland. My career has taken me down many diverse and challenging paths managing natural gas transportation portfolios in The Netherlands, working shifts controlling the flows of gas in Norway, advising joint venture board members on acquisitions and negotiations, leading a shift team producing gas in the UK’s Southern North Sea and most recently chasing new business opportunities around the world.

I graduated from university, the first time, almost a decade ago and the GEM program has really shown me just how much can be accomplished in education in eight years. The technology and advanced teaching tools in the GEM program are sublime and make being a student half the world away in a different time zone a breeze. Future students really shouldn’t be daunted by the distance. I was when I first started and what I discovered were lecturers who understood the challenges and worked around them and students who embraced time difference. Nobody ever acted as a barrier to accomplishing this degree. The degree is also flexible. I started with Cohort 11 and took a six-month break to pursue some personal goals before re-joining with Cohort 12.  However, I can’t completely sugarcoat my experience. The GEM program requires a lot of time and effort, especially when managing a full time job with travel. Ironically being in this degree made me more productive at work because I had to plan my time better, and jump on the opportunity to get work done as soon as possible to avoid building a mountain of work too big to climb.

I chose the GEM program for several reasons. In one all-encompassing sentence I can say it was because it provided the opportunity to learn material relevant to the energy industry in an environment filled with individuals who are equally or more knowledgeable and experienced as me in energy related fields. I looked at MBA programs; but I was sold on how specific the GEM program was. Several “Energy MBA” programs offered their standard MBA with two to three energy electives, but not GEM. I was drawn to the idea that I could talk about human resource management, or financing, or operations management all in the context of the energy industry with fellow energy industry professionals.

The GEM program has been fundamental in helping me revive my career when I didn’t even know it was needed. I originally joined the GEM program with the view to educate myself on the American and renewable energy businesses and expand my breadth of experience. However, as time progressed I discovered that the GEM program was able to help me fill in many of the commercial gaps in my education that appeared when I jumped from being an engineer to a commercial expert. It provided me with the confidence to discuss topics at work, that I only had vague notions about previously, and I used GEM to help me provide that extra boost on work projects. For example, when we started facing fiscal system issues on one of the projects I was working on, I was able to write a university paper on a similar topic, which not only helped me develop conversational language but resulted with me representing ExxonMobil in a country’s parliament when talking to the ministry of finance. Since then I credit the GEM experience with helping me seamlessly integrate into my new business development role and enabling me to be selected as one of two European representatives on ExxonMobil’s Global economic experts network.

GEM’s Director of Operations recipient of Emerging Leader Award

October 7, 2015
Sarah Derdowski

Sarah Derdowski

The GEM Program is proud to announce that Sarah Derdowski, Director of Operations, has received the Emerging Leader Award.

“It couldn’t have gone to a more well deserved individual,” said Sarah Landry, Chief Operating Officer of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

The Emerging Leader Summit Award recognizes the outstanding achievement of an emerging energy leader. These recipients have made significant contributions to the industry and demonstrated the potential for leadership, dedication, and innovation.

“It is humbling to be recognized by the energy industry. Thank you to the COGA committee that selected me for this award,” said Derdowski, who received the award at the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit Conference. “I also wanted to express my sincere gratitude to my team at CU Denver and the Global Energy Management Program.”

Watch the video from the presentation here. 

Watch the award presentation here.

GEM’s Gems September 2015 – Carrie Dixon

September 2, 2015
Carrie Dixon

Carrie Dixon

Our September GEM’s Gem is Carrie Dixon, and she says the GEM Program has already helped her in reaching career goals.

“I recently received a promotion at Xcel Energy,” said the Cohort XIII student. “I am now the Market Operations Manager, leading Xcel’s interests in the Southwest Power Pool.”

Dixon is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global Energy Management at the University of Colorado Denver with an anticipated graduation date of June 2016. She is a recipient of the Global Energy Management Leaders Scholarship.

“Being a GEM student is great,” she said. “The unique hybrid-online design of the program has given me the opportunity to interact and network with other energy professionals from all over the world. The GEM classes have helped me to strengthen my skills and prepare me to be a leader in the industry.”

As Manager of Market Operations at Xcel Energy, Dixon oversees Xcel Energy Service’s participation in the energy market operated by Southwest Power Pool, Inc. She also serves as Xcel’s representative on various industry committees and provides technical support in various state and federal regulatory forums.

“Prior to enrolling in GEM, I evaluated several other programs such as an MBA and MS in Economics, and neither felt like a fit,” she said. “After reviewing the curriculum and meeting several faculty members and alumni of the program, I determined that the GEM program was the right fit for me. The unique focus will give me an edge as an emerging leader in the industry.”

In 2005, Ms. Dixon joined Xcel Energy as an Associate Trading Analyst. There, she developed short-term energy optimization analyses for use in scheduling of constrained resources and power plant commitment decisions. Furthermore, she provided analytical support for forward fuel requirements and the daily gas nomination process.

In 2007, Dixon joined BP’s Integrated Supply and Trading division in Chicago, IL as a Trade Control Analyst. In 2010, Dixon was promoted to the position of Market Risk Advisor for the Global Residual and Distillate Trading benches. In 2011, Dixon returned to the Trading Analytics group at Xcel Energy in Denver. She was the lead Front Office Project Member for the Southwest Power Pool Integrated Marketplace launch.

Dixon received her BS in Mathematics and Computer Information Science, with a minor in Psychology, at the University of Oregon.

GEM alumni join DPC’s 2016 Class of Mentees

September 1, 2015

Congratulations to GEM alumni Heath Lovell and Lincoln Anderson who have been accepted into the Denver Petroleum Club’s Mentor/Mentee program.

Lincoln Anderson“I’m seeking to find a role model through this program; someone who is inspiring and a great example to professionally mirror,” said Anderson, a Lease Analyst at SM Energy Company. “I don’t have much of an opportunity at work to get to know management in this capacity, so engaging with someone who has had a successful career would be a great benefit.”

The Mentor/Mentee (M&M) program brings together established oil & gas industry leaders with young industry professionals to provide insight, guidance, and advice regarding their professional career development.

Lovell and Anderson will join a group of 15 mentees who will begin working together in August 2015. The program will culminate at the Club’s 2016 Charity Bash held in May 2016.

“I’m looking forward to participating in planning and managing that [event],” Anderson said. “It’s reassuring to know we’re working to help the Denver community, and at the same time gaining experience with planning and executing a project.”

Lovell, a Senior Landman at Anadarko Petroleum Corp., joined the program because he is new to the Denver area.Heath Lovell

“I wanted to broaden my network base and have the opportunity to be mentored by some of the leading energy professionals in the area,” he said. “I have set the bar very high for myself in this new chapter of my life and will take all of the knowledge and mentoring I can get. Companies, their assets and jobs come and go. Relationships, knowledge, education and experience stand the test of time and is what propels an individual in their career.”

“I always try to put myself in a position to learn as much as possible from those who have been in the industry a lot longer than I have. Anytime I get the opportunity to sit and hear one of my elders provide advice, I am always tuned in. The parties and balls sound fun too, but I am excited about the charity aspect of the experience as well,” Lovell added.

From monthly educational meetings to competitive games and volunteer projects, there is a lot to be accomplished in just nine short months.

GEM has also had 14 mentees in previous classes including: Greg Adam, Chase Boswell, Michael Burn, Jessica Cavens, Scott Hazelwood, Bruce Hopkins, Kyle Hoppes, AJ Jairamani, Ryan Johnson, Patsy Landaveri, Owen McMillen, Ryan Pocius, Blake O’Shaughnessey, and David Watts.

GEM Advisory Council Members who have donated their time as mentors in the industry include: John Mork, Bill Schneider, Peter Dea, and Dave Keyte.

For more information about the program, please contact Sally Hallingstad at (720) 663-9070.

GEM’s Programs Director & Top Women in Energy leaving GEM for sunny California

August 25, 2015
Sarah Loughran

Sarah Loughran

Sarah Loughran, GEM’s Director of Programs and Stakeholder Relations who joined the program in 2009 before the start of the first cohort of students, will resign in early September.

“Working with you all has been such a privilege, and I have enjoyed my time with you all,” she said. “I’d love to keep in touch and hope to maybe work with you in some capacity again in the future.”

Loughran has helped to transform the program and curriculum. Among her many accomplishments are recruiting more than 15 new professors from around the globe and integrating new courses.

Loughran recruited GEM Marketing Professor Melissa Wood before the second cohort.

“While the merits and quality of the program drew me to join the faculty, it was Sarah’s enthusiasm and passion for this program that truly sealed the deal,” said Wood. “Sarah is a big reason why the GEM program has evolved and become a world-class educational opportunity for energy professionals. She brings with her an unparalleled ability to create a vision and translate it into a reality, never losing sight of what’s most important — the students and faculty.”

“Beyond her expertise and professionalism, I will miss her wit and kind heart. Although, it’s not ‘goodbye.’ She can’t shake me that easily because I consider her a true friend.”

Loughran has also led efforts to develop the GEM Competency Model to integrate the competency expectations of a new GEM graduate into corporate career development.

The Denver Business Journal recently selected her as a Top Women in Energy Leader. She was among 40 women who were selected as key influencers in metro Denver’s energy sector.

“I’m so sorry to see Sarah leave us even while I’m thrilled for her bright future,” said GEM Finance Professor Mike Orlando. “Sarah was the first person I met on the GEM staff. She was exceedingly courteous and capable in bringing me onboard and helping me to contribute to the GEM program over the years.”

Loughran’s husband was offered an outstanding new opportunity based in San Clemente, California this spring, and it was an offer that they couldn’t pass up.

“While I have been working in a remote capacity for GEM the last several months, I feel the time has come to tender my resignation,” Loughran said. “As a Colorado native, it was heartbreaking for me to leave the mountains. However, our new home has an ocean view and a yard full of citrus trees – so I’m starting to come around.”

Loughran’s last day at the GEM Program will be Sept. 4.

“She is always so accommodating and helpful – professional, but very sweet,” said GEM Professor and alumnus Ralph Cantafio. “I know we are all going to miss her, but I think we are all so happy for her and her family.”

GEM Director selected as a Top Women in Energy Leader

August 3, 2015
Sarah Loughran

Sarah Loughran, GEM Director or Programs & Stakeholder Relations

The Global Energy Management Program is proud to announce that Sarah Loughran has been selected as a Top Women in Energy Leader by the Denver Business Journal. 

Loughran, GEM’s Director or Programs and Stakeholder Relations, is among 40 women who were selected as key influencers in metro Denver’s energy sector. These women come from a variety of industries within the sector, such as exploration, production, engineering, renewable, law, well services, finance, manufacturing, education, training, public policy and environment.

Nominations were accepted online for three months, then were reviewed and scored by a panel of judges. The top 40 were selected based on their expertise, leadership and personal commitment to their communities.

From the Desk of the Executive Director: Energy Moving Forward 2015

June 25, 2015

JimA couple of weeks ago we held our annual Energy Moving Forward (EMF) conference – a lot of you may have been there. I am happy to report to you that the conference was a great success. We had a full house, great speakers & panel discussions, and almost universally positive feedback from people who attended.

As you probably saw from the marketing campaign, even if you weren’t at the conference, our theme this year was North American Energy Independence. We had two keynote speakers: Robert Bryce was the headliner with the opening Keynote; the closing keynote was from Dr. Ram Shenoy, Chief Technology Officer at ConocoPhillips. In between we had two panels. Panel 1 discussed political and economic dimensions of the issue, and Panel 2 discussed infrastructure and regulatory dimensions.

In this blog entry, I want to give you my take. Personally, I think that energy independence kind of lies in how you define it. We could define it as standing completely apart from the rest of the world on energy – nothing in, nothing out. With the shale revolution, we are actually at a point where that might be technically possible in a very few years. To me, though, that’s energy isolation, not energy independence, and even if it’s possible I don’t think it’s very sensible. I would define energy independence as a net positive balance of payments on energy, with the freedom to choose what we import and export and what we don’t. Defined this way, energy independence is highly desirable and probably possible for North America within the next year or two.

Canada is already our biggest source of energy imports and Mexico, as it deregulates its oil & gas and electric power sectors, is poised to become a big export market, for gas if nothing else. There is also a lot of potential for cross-border flows of electricity. The key to this is a greater degree of market integration across our three countries. There are both technical and regulatory challenges here, but nothing that can’t be solved. The issue will be less about what we move within North American that what we can move out of North American and how we can do that.

The United States needs to increase development of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) export capacity and remove legal barriers to the export of crude oil. LNG growth is happening already but should accelerate – the barrier here is mainly a market one. The landed price of LNG in Europe and Japan is much less than it was in 2014, and the very great arbitrage opportunities for LNG have largely evaporated. I am told the business is still profitable but not as wildly profitable as it looked a year ago. LNG plants have relatively long paybacks and building them without guaranteed contracts is risky business. The barrier to crude export is a legal one, going back to the first oil embargo in the 1970’s – at that time Congress passed legislation banning the export of U.S. crude and, even though there are strong technical and economic reasons for removing the ban, Congress fears that doing so will raise the price of U.S. crude and nobody wants to leave themselves open to being tarred with the brush of having raised the pump price of gasoline.

In any case, we have plenty of supply, both for export and for domestic consumption. Our Canadian partners are scaling back their expectations for export to the U.S., simply on the grounds that we don’t need to import as much, and they’re actively looking for other places to send oil. We should also expect additional supply from Mexico as their deregulated industry increases productivity.

It wouldn’t hurt to add $15 to the crude price and a dollar or two to natural gas. It’s true that consumer prices would probably rise slightly but we would also be able increase capital investment, ease the pressure on smaller operators as they try to comply with increasing environmental regulation, enable better management of carbon, and ease pressure on the still-fragile development of renewables, not to mention improving profitability in the oil & gas sector. On the whole a modest price increase would do a lot more good than harm, but it’s not likely to happen until we begin exporting more.