“If Texas was an independent country, it would be the 6th largest producer of oil in the world.”

– Jim Gaines, Real Estate Center

Energy Leaders Spring From Texas A&M

Flexibility. Creativity. Daring. Drive.

Those are some of the top attributes needed in the energy sector, and they are sparked within sharp students at Mays Business School.

Some of the top leaders in the industry were trained at Texas A&M University, and they all say once you work in the energy industry, you don’t want to leave. At times fast-paced and exhilarating, at times exasperating, “it gets in your blood.”

  • Anthony Bahr ‘91 and Jay Graham ’91, co-founders of WildHorse Resources (recently acquired by Chesapeake Energy), received bachelor’s and master’s degrees petroleum engineering.
  • Greg Garland ‘80, chairman and CEO of Phillips 66, got a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.
  • Jeff Miller ’88 received an MBA from Mays. He started in 1993 at Halliburton, where he is now chairman of the board, president, and CEO. (Read “Leaders in Energy: Q&A with Halliburton’s Jeff Miller“)
  • Cindy Taylor ‘83, CEO of Oil States International, has an accounting degree. She came into the field by happenstance while working for an accounting firm.

“The energy industry has been at the forefront of economic growth for the US economy for the past decade. The people in the industry continue to generate returns by being innovative and developing new methods for extracting value,” said Detlef Hallermann, program director of the Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP) at Mays. The joint offering by Mays and Texas A&M’s petroleum engineering program is now in its third year. It was

endowed with a $12 million gift Anthony Bahr ’91 and Jay Graham ’92, business partners in Houston-based WildHorse Resources Management Company, to provide interdisciplinary upper-level education for finance and petroleum engineering students.

Bahr and Graham Draw Colleges Together

Bahr and Graham graduated with petroleum engineering degrees, and they see the value of collaboration with the business school. “That cross-functionality is valuable,” Bahr said. “It will take you far when challenges occur and you have to figure things out.”

Bahr serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Mays and has funded scholarships for students.

“Mays is an easy sell because it’s easy to get behind a winner that is making great progress,” he said. “The school has consistently been strong and successful, and that is not slowing down anytime soon. It is fun to be on that wagon.”

Hallermann uniquely positions Mays for Energy Leaders

Hallermann is at the crossroads of the energy sector on campus. He has a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M, an MBA in finance, and master’s and doctorate degrees in mineral economics. “I feel like the education and work I’ve done so far in my life has come together. That makes me the right person at A&M to teach and develop programs related to energy at A&M,” he said.

Hallermann is a clinical professor who serves as the director of the Trading Risk and Investments Program (TRIP), the Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP), and the Reliant Trading Center at Mays.

Graduates of the PVP and TRIP programs have about 100 percent job placement, and their starting salaries are usually in the $75,000 to $80,000 range. “As a general rule of thumb, the students coming out of TRIP double their total compensation within five years. It’s a tremendous career path.”

Hallermann said support of the programs continue to snowball. “Our advisory boards are strong and vibrant. Our concern at the university is matching the number of students in our programs with the number of opportunities available. Our alumni and advisory board members are extremely generous with hiring students in our programs. We are very fortunate the industry recognizes the value our students provide as employees straight out of A&M.” Mays added a second faculty member last year to serve as a co-director of TRIP: Susie Zeal, an executive professor with over three decades of experience in the industry.

Hallermann said he continues to be challenged in attracting the right students. “We are not necessarily looking just for the student with the 4.0. These programs require students to be comfortable with risk and uncertainty,” he said. “This path requires people that are intelligent, but more importantly, are coachable, and have the mental tenacity to fight with challenging problems. Those who are not willing to work to learn or to understand they will make mistakes -and expect to learn from their mistakes- will not be comfortable in this industry.”

Cindy Taylor on the Business of Energy

Taylor said the PVP and the other programs are great launching places for careers because of the fundamental need for business knowledge in every industry.

“So much of what we do is cyclical. We focus on organization, efficiencies, and effectively delivering quality products on time and under budget,” she said. “We have to be adaptable and flexible, and we have to be very focused on our goals.”

Taylor said she does a lot of scenario planning based on knowledge of the business, the customers, and the market. “You’re always trying to push the envelope to do things better, faster, and more efficiently,” she said. “That’s where the creativity comes in. That’s where you pull from everything you’ve learned and face the real tests.”

Mays and the Business of Energy

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy expenditures totaled 5.6% of GDP in 2016. Dive deeper into how Mays impacts this essential industry. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=36754



Trading, Risk, & Investments Program graduate

The Trading, Risk, & Investments Program has supplemented my educational and professional career invaluably. The petroleum boom in The U.S. -Texas especially- has opened up a myriad of opportunities in the industry, and the program helps students at Texas A&M take advantage of this. This is achieved in a few ways: coursework tailored to educating students on industry norms and the reasoning behind them, workshops to build upon excel knowledge, internships, and mentorship from current industry professionals and older TRIP students.

For me, the flexibility of the coursework was the most beneficial. In addition to getting a Master’s degree, I was able to take coursework in pursuit of an international affairs certificate at The Bush School of Government and Public Service in order to better understand how global politics affects the domestic petroleum market. I believe that in the coming years, professionals in the petroleum industry will need an international focus, because of the United States’ growing role as an energy exporter. I also found that the internship experience I gained from the program was a great benefit for my career. It allows me to start off my career with work experience under my belt, which helped in the classroom and subsequent internships.

-Vincent Turner ’19