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GEM’s Gems May 2013 – Ryan Lunsford

May 16, 2013

Ryan Lunsford

If you have an appreciation for the GEM Speaker Series, you may want to thank this month’s featured “Gem.” Ryan Lunsford, along with a couple of his classmates from Cohort 1, helped with the creation of the speaker series events after discovering the impressive talents and achievements of his fellow students.

“When Cohort 1 first met for our weekend in Denver, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we really had a stacked group,” said Lunsford, Project Manager of Enterprise Products.

“There were quite a few of my fellow students who had already achieved some great things in their careers in the energy industry. That said, we decided to create a forum for some of those individuals to share their experiences, and the GEM Speaker Series was born.”

Today, the speaker series has grown to include distinguished leaders who hail from industry, the private sector, and government. It has also helped enhance the GEM Program’s curriculum and presence in the community.

Lunsford, 36, who lives in Houston, is still very much connected to the GEM Program and its alumni. Two years ago, he hosted a dinner with some of the GEM graduates who reside in Houston, and they jokingly called it the “Inaugural Meeting of the GEM Alumni – Houston Chapter.” This April, the group along with Cathy Steffek, Director of External Relations at the GEM Program, arranged a GEM barbecue.

“This time the group’s size had more than doubled, so we had to move the party outside,” Lunsford said. “There were even some students and alumni in attendance who were Houston natives or had never lived in Colorado — a testament to the growing reach of the GEM Program.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I manage different types of engineering and construction projects as my company expands its midstream asset portfolio, from natural gas treating facilities and compressor stations to NGL fractionation facilities and even the pipelines that transport these products from the wellhead to the downstream markets.  It’s rewarding because I’m able to work with the project from “cradle to grave,” starting with our internal business development team when we develop the project scope and economic justification. Once the project is funded, I work with our internal engineering teams and external engineering consulting firms to ensure the design will satisfy not only the business need, but also comply with company and industry standards for safety and operability. With the design in hand, my team works to bid the project, select construction firms, and manage the construction effort until the asset is complete and ready to operate.  Along the way, I’m responsible for keeping the project on budget and on-time.

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

When I started the GEM Program I was working with an engineering consulting firm in Lakewood, Colorado in a project engineering role. Halfway through the GEM Program, I accepted an offer to begin working with Enterprise Products in Houston in project management.

The GEM program has provided me with a broader understanding of how the energy industry is integrated from the wellhead to the consumer. Most of the customers that I work with are producers. The knowledge I’ve gained from the GEM program has allowed me to better understand their needs, so that we can align our efforts to make both parties more successful. Further, learning about how commodity prices affect the industry globally has helped me to better contribute to the commercial decisions that we make locally when selecting which projects we will fund and build.

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

Four days of intense immersion during each cohort period all but forced my classmates and me to get to know each other; however, the friendships that I developed with these folks will last a lifetime. My favorite aspect of the cohort weekends was finding ways to decompress with my classmates after class. I’m sure that downtown Denver didn’t know quite what to make of us, but we sure had a good time at the ballpark, the bowling alley, or for that matter, wherever we ended up.

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

It was fun to keep up with my classmates’ lives outside of GEM – when life got in the way of group work, we’d always cover for each other. My wife and I were married in Hawaii during the fifth quarter of my coursework, and I took my computer along for the trip so that I didn’t “drop the ball” for my team members. Though my bride-to-be understood when I snuck away to check on our research report during the first couple of days, my team members were less than impressed when they received e-mails with suggestions for our deliverable. I recall a response to my e-mail that read, “Ryan, you need to close your computer and get yourself married. Stop e-mailing us!” I took their advice and forgot about group work for the rest of the week.

Why did you choose the GEM Program at CU Denver?

I set a goal to earn a Master’s degree in business to supplement my undergraduate engineering degree, as I am equally interested in the management and financial aspects of energy as I am in the technical side of the business. Before finding the GEM Program, I visited several universities with respected MBA programs, but I had difficulty developing a vision for how their curriculum would integrate into the oil & gas industry. When I was tipped off that the GEM Program was being developed to focus on the energy industry I immediately knew it was the right fit.

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