Nash Whitney, ‘18

Nash Whitney

Current Employer:  GE

Q:  What attracted you to the MEECON program?
A:  The Masters of Energy Economics program at Rice appealed to me on many different levels.  The opportunity to learn from industry thought leaders could not be understated, but moreover, the chance to receive career-enhancing instruction at a university such as Rice was a chance in a lifetime.  My goal in enrolling in graduate study, and ultimately the MEECON program was to aide my career progression with an extraordinarily expanded skillset and matriculate into an irreplaceable network.  The MEECON program offered amazing solutions to both of those.
Additionally, the opportunity to increase my learning and understand the application of my studies outside the classroom, by attending lectures, luncheons, seminars and summits was incredibly valuable.  There is absolutely no other place to understand the changing dynamics of the Energy Industry more than the Baker Institute at Rice.
 
Q:  What was your career like prior to the program?
A:  My career has been on an upward trajectory since I began working professionally 11 years ago. I started my career as an engineer and grew into a leadership role within GE’s power generation services business.  I expanded my technical leadership capabilities by growing an engineering organization dedicated to providing detailed power generation engineering and program/project management as a P&L leader before pivoting to the industrial engine and midstream operations space with GE.  My current role is responsible for managing our distribution relationship for industrial natural gas engines within the US.  The responsibilities include technical, commercial and strategic facets aimed at making our products more reliable, efficient and robust for gathering and transmission in the midstream space.  I was able to continue to remain in this role throughout the MEECON program working and attending class full time.
 
Q:  Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
A:  After graduation my career aspirations have changed from being mostly technical and operational to becoming more strategic and analytical.  The MEECON program offered an expanded skillset allowing me to explore more ways to contribute to an organizations growth functionally.  By having a deeper understanding of energy economics across the value chain of energy ‘wellhead to burner tip’ I am better able to now legitimately seek opportunities where I can help shape and guide organizational growth across segments in the space; and by combining my technical and operational experience with a Masters in Energy Economics my value-add to an organization is force-multiplied.
 
Q:  What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your experience in the MEECON program?
A:  The highlight of my experience in the program was coming to class each and every day.  I relished the opportunity to learn from the men and women who help shape policy, analyze the market, and who are the authority on where the energy industry has been and where it is going, globally.  The relationships that I was able to build with the faculty of the MEECON program are cherished.  Moreover, the complete experience of attending this program, participating in events at the Baker Institute and meeting scores of incredible, paradigm-shifting thought leaders was the highlight of my educational experience and I will remember my time at Rice for the rest of my life.
 
Q:  What was your favorite class in the MEECON program?
A:  My ‘favorite’ class isn’t an easy one to pick.  I extracted extraordinary value from each course that I attended and it is impossible for me to rank the importance or enjoyment of each, particularly since in my mind, they are all equivalent.  From Energy Econ I & II, to Corporate Finance, to Econometrics, Taxation, Transportation, Macro, Micro, Geopolitics, each class was incredible.  The depth and scope of knowledge each course covered was vast and inspired me to not only want to fully understand each facet of the material, but crave more opportunities to learn and put my learning into practice. I completed the program bittersweet: happy to be finished, but regretful that my time in class and with professors came to an end.
 
Q:  What would you say to someone who is considering leaving their job for about one year to pursue a professional master's program?
A:  I would say that leaving your current role isn’t necessary, so long as you have support from your employer and your family.  An opportunity to attend this program and enroll in Rice University is a life-changing event; and I would recommend that you do absolutely whatever it takes to extract the most value out of the time you have.  The value you create for your career, and for your employer is incredible.  Your time spent learning, creating relationships and understanding the expansive reach of the energy market will pay multiples against the commitment you have in participating in this experience.  It is truly a remarkable opportunity to develop yourself academically and professionally.  It will hopefully be, as it was for me, the highlight of your academic experience.