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GEM’s Gems January 2015 – Bryan Burns

January 29, 2015

Bryan Burns The January GEM’s GEM is Bryan Burns. He is a Senior Environmental Health & Safety Representative at LINN Energy, an upstream oil and gas master limited partnership. A member of Cohort VIII, Burns recently participated in the GEM Program’s Special Topics course in London as an alumnus.

“It was perfect timing because after graduating in January, I realized I missed being up-to-date with current events in the global energy industry,” Burns said. “We listened to a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford Analytica lay out underlying factors influencing supply trends in international oil and gas markets, as well as geopolitical concerns in Russia, NGL export projects in the Middle East, and refining capacity issues in Europe. It all made sense a month later when oil prices began to plunge.”

Burns, 29, wrote papers for the course that he later presented to leaders in his organization analyzing how oversupply could potentially lead to stranded assets.

“Whatever the future holds, I know I will be better suited to face it with the knowledge, skills, and friends I gained from the GEM program,” he said.

Please tell us a little bit about your current role & responsibilities:
As the Senior Environmental Health & Safety Representative at LINN Energy, my scope includes air quality, reclamation, water management, and sensitive species compliance projects for LINN’s Rockies assets in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. My responsibilities also include environmental due diligence and integration for acquisitions and divestitures. Before the downturn in oil prices, LINN announced nearly $10 billion in transactions with ExxonMobil/XTO, Pioneer, Devon, and others in just a 13 month period. With a bevy of new environmental regulations and the coming “Great Shift Change,” I am focusing on finding ways to leverage technology to improve data collection quality while decreasing the compliance time burden on our operations teams.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?
I am proud to be a part of America’s energy renaissance, providing affordable energy to consumers while driving an unprecedented reduction in carbon emissions nationwide to levels not seen in two decades. I enjoy the challenge of working with talented multidisciplinary teams across the country, getting out to the field, and connecting with colleagues from Michigan to California. My role sits at the juncture of business and environmental stewardship, and I know how important it is to operate responsibly. The future of our industry depends on building relationships of mutual trust with landowners, shareholders, regulators, and community partners. The oil and gas industry is renowned for its innovation, and I try to harness that spirit to cost-effectively conserve environmental resources for future generations.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?
I am a member of Cohort VIII, a.k.a. the Ocho. My recollection of cohort weekends involved feeling tired for four days straight, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and straining my mind to contain all the material we learned. I preferred the nights where we got to know each other over a couple drinks and shared some laughs but I dodged a headache the next morning.

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?
Business cards and Altoids. The former for networking, the latter to stay awake in the afternoon.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?
I studied environmental science and policy during undergrad, so I did not have much exposure to business-specific course material. I started in the industry in 2006 and learned quickly that having business acumen is essential to influence decision-making and culture in an organization. The GEM program offered the convenience of a hybrid-learning environment that enabled me to focus on school and my full-time job without sacrificing one over the other. The professors had real-world energy experience, which differed from other programs locally and nationally. The GEM program’s reputation enabled me to get a portion of my degree paid for by my company because they saw the value offered by the curriculum.

How has the GEM program benefited you?
While I was a GEM student, my former company of seven years merged with LINN. Learning about finance, accounting, and talent management helped me to understand what was going on around me during the transition, and also helped me recognize ways I could effectively contribute to my new company. Six months later, I was given the opportunity to join the integration team and learn the M&A side of the business, which I had wanted to do for years.

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.
In my cohort, a member’s significant other (accidentally?) appeared negligibly clothed on screen while the team was recording a WebEx presentation.

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