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GEM’s Gems April 2013 – Chris Wilcox

March 28, 2013
Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox

GEM alumnus Chris Wilcox is a prominent development team leader within Encana’s Cutbank Ridge Business Unit which operates alongside the company’s Mitsubishi Joint Venture partnership. The Canadian native was promoted from a geologist to group lead of the Tumbler Ridge Development team due in part to the exposure the GEM program provided him. Wilcox was a member of Cohort 6 and graduated in December 2012.

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

In my current role, I am accountable to Encana and their strategic partnership alignment with Mitsubishi for the development of the Tumbler Ridge assets within the Cutbank Ridge Business Unit. My deliverables include maximizing shareholder value through the long term strategic development in a cost effective manner of this large extensive land position in the Dawson Creek Tumbler Ridge area of North Eastern British Columbia Canada. The role also requires me to create, foster and deliver value to our partnership that is aligned with our core values and key deliverables of supporting production targets while achieving partnership objectives through execution, high grading opportunities and further delineating the resource in place. These objectives need to be achieved while continuing to support the technical advancement and knowledge sharing within our partnership. Further responsibilities include supporting and promoting incremental liquids opportunities within this land position ensuring the business unit vision is aligned with corporate strategy of creating a more diversified asset.

How has the GEM program benefited you and your company? Have you been promoted since you began the program?

During the program I was promoted from a geologist to a group lead of a development team, in part due to the exposure the GEM program has provided me. From my various positions as a geologist I realized that although I was technically proficient, I was missing a key competent for future career development and that skill being, strong business acumen. GEM provided me the necessary skill set to allow for a more rounded approach to our business, including leadership skills, to creating a personal awareness of my own strengths and weakness to a strong foundation of financial risk and modeling to operational management. Finally, GEM’s capstone courses brought all these newly acquired tools together in a strategic management perspective that has provided unique skills that has complimented my technical background.

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

Some of my most memorable moments during cohort weekends were the interactions with my classmates.  As a Canadian it allowed me to offer a different perspective within the class, providing uniquely Canadian insights with respect to the Canadian energy position, issues and regulatory variances. However, the most enjoyable conversations  often occurred when I had the opportunity to explore my cohort’s unique and impressive backgrounds. I quickly realized that I was surrounded by some of the most motivated, engaged, sophisticated energy  professionals that I have ever been exposed to. Not to mention the staff and professors associated with the program made these conversations highly productive, insightful and left me more engaged than ever.

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

Being prepared for cohort weekends was a critical component that enabled myself to stay ahead, informed and prepared for lecture material. Having the necessary pre course work completed also created a more constructive dynamic environment when it came to group and class discussions. I also tried to come well rested along with an open attitude towards learning from my professors and my cohorts while providing my own insights to these daily conversations.

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.

One the most popular evenings was the bowling night.  We had great attendance from the class. As one of our first events outside of the learning environment, everyone got to relax, have some fun, learn a little bit about each other and their past experiences.. It was a great starting point for the cohort to build those critical relationships that would become the foundation of trust and respect that allowed for all our future crucial conversations. Not only was it a fun distraction but I was able to see how my cohorts responded outside the class and it gave me a new perspectives on my classmates, especially since it exposed our inabilities in the bowling alley.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

I originally had been searching for an MBA program that had a focus on the energy industry. I was first introduced to GEM through an Encana article highlighting the existing relationship Encana and GEM had developed. The program offered the skills and tools I was seeking and I recognized the value the GEM program could offer to specific individuals. The further I delved into this industry leading uniquely focused program, the more I realized this program not only offered the business skill set required for our energy industry but was a first mover on such an integrated approach affording me the opportunity to continue working while studying.

Has GEM changed your perspective? If so, how so?

GEM has exposed me to a new profoundly unique perspective; it has also given me the energy industry financial and business background to engage likeminded professionals on a whole new level. GEM has also given me a more holistic approach to the North American energy market, and its position globally.  This new perspective has allowed me to transition seamlessly into our own Joint Ventures with global partners providing a better understanding of their values, strategies and most importantly their objectives.

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