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GEM’s Gems January 2014 – Hongyu An (Ann)

January 1, 2014

 Beijinger honored as the January GEM’s Gem

The GEM’s Gem we are honoring this month may have deep roots in Beijing, China, but she is quickly making Denver her new stomping ground.ann

Hongyu An (Ann), 30, is a Reservoir Engineering Technician with Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. She graduated from the China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing with a B.S. in industrial engineering and is part of a third generation of local Beijingers.

“In 2006, my parents made their most important decision to allow their only child come to the U.S. by herself,” she said.

In 2007, An took an internship with Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. and is still with the company today.

“I started as an Engineering Tech Assistant and gained a dual title as an office manager for a couple years when we only had a handful of staff in our branch,” An said. “Now we have grown four times larger and, after we hired enough help on general office duties, I returned to focus on reservoir engineering as a full-fledged technician.”

An, who is a member of Cohort IX, will graduate on June 20, 2014. She and her husband are also expecting their second child in August.

“After graduation, I’ll have two children less than four years old apart,” she said. “This is the best project management I have done so far.”

 Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I assist engineering personnel with economic evaluations, budgeting, reserves estimation and field studies, building and maintaining complex queries, databases, and economic evaluations & forecasts in Excel, Access, and IHS PowerTools. I also monitor well activity including proposed work and work in progress and coordinate all information from internal and external databases into our online portal.

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

The energy industry is one of the most important industries in society. As long as there are people, they will need energy. It’s my pleasure to be able to play a role in helping ourselves to use energy smarter and more efficiently. The energy industry is highly related to global, political, economic, technological, and environmental factors.

 How has the GEM program benefited you?

GEM enlarges my network locally and internationally. Here, I have met many experts in the industry and made friends from different cultural backgrounds such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Asia, and the US. GEM has also helped me communicate more effectively with my colleagues at the office. As a foreign born U.S. citizen, I’m still very new to the country and my company. I don’t have much common life topics with my colleagues at work. Sports, outdoor life, TV shows, comedians? I don’t know much about them, and what I can share with my American colleagues they don’t quite understand. So when we talk, we can initiate small talk but don’t have much real discussion. After I started GEM, I can find at least two topics each quarter to discuss with fellow staff members. For example, last quarter, I took the HR class and was able to interview with my supervisor, manager, or the boss on each weekly discussion topic. I learned more about my company operations, and they learned more about me besides my current job role.

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

It must start from very beginning; the breakfast! It definitely motivates me to get up early on the weekends to attend school. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things. GEM has been so successful in enrolling students. A lot of them are new to GEM but “old” to the industry. I can keep learning from them.

In class activities: unlike staying in front of a computer, I have to pay closer attention on what the teacher and classmates are saying, because there is no pause button on them. Pretend I’m a Chinese representative. I always think someday my work will face different people from the world and involve solving tough business problems. The cohort weekends are my best early practice stage. I like when my classmates show their interest in Chinese issues. I like to share my opinion, but it’s often better to hear more from other voices. I like to learn what outsiders think about China today because we all have the chance to create a better future together. I’m glad that I’m with a group of open-minded people and very much appreciate those independent thoughts.

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

Laptop, pre-readings (be prepared before the cohort weekends), business cards (you always meet some new faces), your own beverage container (save plastic or paper cups), and credit card (you want to have lunch together with your group).

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

Wow, it is a quite challenge for us international students. Many cases are U.S. based, so I have to do more background research to understand what Americans would consider common sense. So this program not only helped me in the energy industry, but also helped me understand American society, culture, and politics in general.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

First, I’m sure I will stay in the energy field the rest of my career. No matter if it’s engineering or marketing, oil or solar, industry or government, China or the US, it must be energy related.

Second, I’ve already secured an engineering degree in China, so I don’t want to get another engineering degree here, even though it might benefit me more in the short term. I believe that I can learn the technical knowledge better in my mother language than to learn them in English. Some day when I go back to China, I won’t be just a senior engineer, I will be a manger or a policy maker, so I need a business degree from the U.S. and solid industry experience worldwide. With the high growth and intense competition in China, many overseas MBA degree holders can’t earn a better position in China unless you graduate from a world famous school. So I found GEM, which is a program designed exclusively for the energy industry.

Third, timing and location. Starting from January 2013, these 18 months are the best 18 months to finish a Master’s degree. (Ann is expecting her second child two months after graduation).

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