Before Price College announced in 2014 the launch of an innovative Executive MBA in Energy Program, the college had already received its first application from an entrepreneurial candidate. A career oil and gas professional, Aaron Wright received an insider tip about the new EMBA from his mentor and the namesake of Price’s energy management program, Robert M. Zinke. After learning more about the program, he 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 an energy startup.
From left are Trey Roper, Aaron Wright and Bryan Mitchell
In 2017, Wright was part of a 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, Wright worked with his partners last year to hire additional talent to support the organization’s ambitious growth goals and knew exactly where to scout for talent. Tapping into the Price EMBA alumni network, Great Salt Plains Midstream hired 2018 alumnus Bryan Mitchell as chief operating officer and current EMBA student Trey Roper as director of analytics and commercial development. Payrock Energy II recently hired Roper as its chief financial officer.
Wright became the first student enrolled in the program and the first of many alumni to use the EMBA education and network to launch their own company. For example, two of his classmates, Jeff Lierly and Kevin Riley, co-founded Starboard Permian and Riley Exploration Group, respectively. And numerous entrepreneurs have graduated from the program since, which is why Wright looked to EMBA Sooners to fill key roles when he was ready to start his own venture.
“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 said.
As entrepreneurial interest builds among students and alumni alike, the EMBA in Energy program continues to add private equity-focused presentations to the curriculum that is accessible via livestream to both students and alumni. On March 25, the program hosted an on-campus presentation by Murphy Markham, managing partner of EnCap, regarding private equity in the energy industry that was taped as a Facebook live video. A week later, the first installment of the OU EMBA Alumni Premier Web Series addressed capital markets and investment, oil and gas, and supply/demand balance and pricing considerations, and allowed students and alumni to interact with the presenters, Oliver Doolin of Recurrent Energy Advisors and Adam Longson of Continental Resources.
Wright is proud of the entrepreneurial flame that seems to have ignited from the very first cohort.
“I am honored to have been part of the first cohort and value the decision to earn my EMBA in Energy at OU,” he said. “The relationships I developed with faculty and peers, along with the knowledge I gained as a student, have been a strong foundation in pursuing my career goals.”