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EMBA in Energy’s First Student Taps Classmates at Growing Startup
From left: Trey Roper (EMBA student), Aaron Wright (EMBA ’15)<br> and Bryan Mitchell (EMBA ’18)
Aaron Wright’s entrepreneurial spirit was realized quickly as he applied to the University of Oklahoma’s EMBA in Energy program prior to the program being officially announced. Having heard about the program from his mentor, Aaron knew the focus on energy, strong industry connections and top faculty would help him further develop his energy prowess and advancement toward his ultimate goal of being part of a start-up energy company. Years after graduation, the network he built as a student has been an important factor in helping him fill critical roles at his growing startup with talented fellow Sooners.
A career oil and gas professional, Aaron held a series of progressive marketing and business development roles with both midstream and upstream organizations throughout his early career. As he gained experience, Aaron desired to increase his knowledge base in natural gas, crude and NGL’s with the goal of being a part of a start-up, green field company. “I’ve always wanted to be in a role that helped create value, wore many hats and contributed to building something from the ground up,” says Wright. In 2013, on the advice of his mentor, prominent OU alumnus Robert (Bob) Zinke, Aaron reached out to Dr. Dipankar Ghosh, Executive Director of what was the soon-to-be-announced EMBA in Energy program. Upon learning about the innovative format (mostly online, with three one-week residencies), focus on the energy industry and highly relevant curriculum, Aaron quickly applied. He was admitted and later became the first enrolled student in the emerging offering.
As an EMBA in Energy student, Aaron focused both on his studies and in building relationships with faculty and fellow students. In the (virtual) classroom, Aaron learned and enhanced his skills – including financial valuations, frameworks for evaluating contracts, risk mitigation, strategy development and negotiation – that have helped to drive his career forward. Despite his busy work schedule (most students in the EMBA in Energy program work full-time while earning their degree) Aaron took time to build strong relationships with his classmates. To this day, Aaron still gets together with several members of his class every few months. “I was expecting to get value from my education, but one of the best surprises was the strong relationships I built with my classmates that have given me a more well-rounded energy perspective and added to my energy acumen,” he says proudly.
In 2017, Aaron was part of the Private Equity backed team that helped establish Great Salt Plains Midstream (GSPM), a joint-venture created to expand the water gathering, crude oil gathering and gas gathering/processing infrastructure in the prolific STACK Play in Oklahoma. As the Chief Commercial Officer, Aaron worked with his partners to hire additional talent to support the organization’s ambitious growth goals. Tapping into his EMBA alumni network, GSPM recently hired Bryan Mitchell, a 2018 EMBA in Energy graduate, and Trey Roper, a student in the Fall 2018 class, to fill critical roles at Great Salt Plains Midstream. Roper started in May as the Director of Analytics and Commercial Development, while Mitchell came on board as Chief Operating Officer a month later.
“I am honored to have been part of the first cohort and value the decision to earn my EMBA in Energy at OU,” says Wright. “The relationships I developed with faculty and peers along with the knowledge I gained as a student has been a strong foundation in pursuing my career goals.”