Energy Leadership Certificate Series - University of Houston
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Energy Career & Leadership Webinars and Certificate in Energy Leadership

Spring Semester, 2024

UH Energy and the Energy Coalition are proud to announce the Energy Career & Leadership Webinar Series and the Certificate in Energy Leadership. The Series is co-presented by the Texas Industrial Energy Efficiency Program (TIEEP).

There are six webinars in the series. If you plan to pursue a successful, fulfilling career in energy, as a future decision-maker, you must attend! The webinars feature some of the brightest and best minds of the marketplace. Our presenters generously share hard-earned lessons and experience from their own careers. The webinars explore how the energy transition is transforming energy careers, as well as providing insights in leadership and team building, which are crucial skills in the rapidly changing energy industry.

Series Details:

Date: Fridays February 9 - March 29, 2024 (excluding March 8 & 15)

Time: 10am - 11am

Location: Webinar Series

Dates may be subject to change.

Webinar Registration:

Webinar registration is open to all, but pre-registration is required: Registration

After you complete and submit the registration form, you will receive an email with a unique, personal Zoom link for all six webinars. If you do not receive the link, please check your spam folder and other folders. If you don't find the email there, this probably means that you entered your email incorrectly in the registration form; so please re-submit your registration.

Certificate in Energy Leadership Registration:

The Certificate in Energy Leadership is a non-credit certification open only to enrolled students at institutions of higher education.

  1. Registration, Attendance, Testing. You must:
    • register for the webinar series no later than 11:59 pm, Thursday February 8, 2024;
    • attend at least four of the webinars at the time they are presented (i.e., “live”);
    • achieve passing grades in the online tests for at least four of the live webinars that you attended.
  2. When registering, include the following information:
    • the name of your institution or university (e.g., “UH” or “University of Houston”) in the “Institution, University or Employer” field
    • your student ID in the “Student ID” field.
  3. When joining each webinar:
    • use your unique, personal Zoom link.

Failure to follow these instructions may disqualify you from receiving your certificate.

If you are unable to attend live webinars:

Where possible, we will record the sessions in this series, and we will make the recordings available a few days after each live webinar. If you would like to apply for the certificate, but you are unable to attend the live webinars because of conflicts with work or class schedules, please advise the program coordinator, Dr. Alan Rossiter (, no later than 11:59 pm, Thursday February 8, 2024, with an explanation of why you are unable to attend in real time. At the discretion of the program coordinator, you may be able to qualify for the certificate by viewing the recorded webinars and then completing the quizzes.

Confirmed Presenters

Session 1: Fall in Love with the Problem - Lessons in Moonshot Taking, Climate and Entrepreneurship

February 9

In this talk, Dr Rey Banatao will share his personal journey and learnings gathered over a diverse career working and investing in deep tech, sustainability, and startups. He will share some of his work leading X’s (formerly Google X) moonshot for the Circular Economy, and their moonshot taking philosophy. He will share his principles for tackling big problems in the world today, and why he thinks we all should ‘fall in love with the problem’.

Rey Banatao

Presenter: Rey Banatao, Ph.D., Director / Project Lead, X (formerly Google X)

Rey leads X's moonshot for the Circular Economy. With a diverse technical and entrepreneurial background, Rey has co-founded and scaled materials science companies focused on novel bio-based and chemically recyclable polymers. Rey’s innovations have been commercialized at scale across multiple industries like sporting goods, built environment, and renewable energy, including the world’s first recyclable wind blade. The World Economic Forum recognized Rey as a Young Global Leader in 2013. Rey is also an advisor and investor in numerous sustainable materials startups, an industry advisor to the Department of Energy's Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Development Unit at Berkeley National Labs, on the Scientific Advisory Board for the BioP2P (BioProcess to Product) Network, and was a Google for Startups Accelerator mentor for the first Circular Economy program at Google.

Session 2: Defeating Career Anxiety

February 16

How should I move forward in my studies and career when I keep asking myself: What kind of jobs will be available when I graduate? Who (or what?) may be the competition? What can I do to make sure I contribute – and have success – when I enter the workforce? When I get into a company, what will be expected? What if I am an introvert? Can I be me? How may the energy transition shape my prospects and career? And can I future-proof myself against automation, artificial intelligence, deglobalization, inflation, interest rates, and other macroeconomic mega-trends never mind geopolitical events?

Why not join a fireside chat and “Ask me anything?” session with Don Victory, founder of Energy Mentors, and previously the Chief Upstream Process Engineer at ExxonMobil? While lessons and perspectives from a 40-year career in energy might not provide definitive answers, perhaps they can inspire resiliency against a changing world over your own multi-decade career.

Don Victory

Presenter: Don Victory, Chair, Energy Mentors; previously Upstream Chief Process Engineer at ExxonMobil

Don Victory is the Founder and Chair of Energy Mentors, a 501(c)(3) charity sponsoring “Power the Community - an International College Design Competition.” The competition challenges student teams to reimagine affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy infrastructure supporting a new community of 2,000 families. Team submissions are due May 15, 2024, to be eligible for the $10,000 grand prize or part of the additional $21,000 for other distinguished designs.

With over 40 years of experience in research, operations, capital project management, and risk assessment, Don's focus areas include sustainability, energy transition, integrative design, and mentoring innovation deployment. Energy Mentors’ mission is to catalyze transfer of crystalized intelligence to a rising generation of energy students and professionals.

Session 3: From Raising Cows to Removing Carbon: A Personal Sustainability Journey

February 23

In this session, I will share my personal connection to sustainability, tracing it back to my upbringing on a farm and finding that many daily practices in my childhood align with sustainability practices of today. I will then delve into my career journey, highlighting my transition from a background in chemical engineering to energy efficiency leading to my current role focused on sustainability and decarbonization. The session will conclude with an overview of Eastman's plans for decarbonization. I will discuss the company's commitment to sustainability, including the strategies, initiatives, and technologies being evaluated and employed to achieve carbon emission reductions.

Sharon Nolen

Presenter: Sharon Nolen, Eastman

Sharon is an Eastman Fellow and leads Eastman’s Global Natural Resource Management program, as well as one of the company’s three Sustainability Subcouncils. She represents Eastman in the DOE Better Plants Program and the ENERGY STAR® Industrial Partner Program, and serves on the Industrial Advisory Board for the National Alliance for Water Innovation. Sharon is a frequently invited speaker at national and international energy conferences. She has been published in Chemical Engineering Progress and Chemical Processing and authored a chapter in the book: Energy Management and Efficiency for the Process Industries. She was named the 2019 International Energy Manager of the Year by the Association of Energy Engineers and received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Energy and Sustainability Award in 2020. She is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Energy Manager.

Session 4: Navigating a Successful Career in a Changing Energy Industry

March 1

The energy industry is changing rapidly. Understanding how it is changing – and where it is heading – is critical to identifying career opportunities for the future. In this session, our presenter will share experiences and learnings from her own 20+ year career in energy, and she will provide insights into the changing energy industry from her current role leading a coalition of industry members as they navigate the transition to a lower-carbon world.

Jane Striker

Presenter: Jane Stricker, SVP and Executive Director, Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), The Greater Houston Partnership

As Executive Director of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), Jane has responsibility for the Partnership’s effort to leverage Houston’s energy leadership to accelerate the transition to an energy abundant, low-carbon future. She leads a coalition of industry, academia, and community partners to ensure the long-term economic competitiveness and advancement of the Houston region towards a more sustainable and net-zero emissions future.

Prior to joining the Partnership, Jane spent over two decades at bp, where she held leadership roles in marketing, corporate finance, governance, and compliance. Among her many accomplishments, she developed and delivered the 2019 National Petroleum Council Study on carbon capture, use and storage in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Jane has a B.A. from the University of Maryland and an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago. She serves on the advisory board of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Energy Center, the board of BCarbon, and as an advisor to Pana Low Carbon Economy Investments and several early-stage energy transition startups.

Session 5: Many Routes to a Career Destination

March 22

In this session, students will learn through Sindhu Balan’s personal career journey, how STEM careers can follow a non-linear path.  From a background in Pharma and Biotech studies to a current position in advancing external innovation for the energy industry as a Venture Principal for Chevron Technology Ventures, Sindhu will share how skills can be transferable through different positions and industry.

As a Venture Principal, Sindhu is on the frontlines of external innovation. She’ll discuss the types of opportunities she encounters in both traditional and new energy. The objective of this session is for students to broaden the scope of their career planning and consider flexibility in the path ahead. It could lead them to places they never expected.

Sindhu Balan

Presenter: Sindhu Balan, Investment Principal, Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV)

Sindhu Balan is an Investment Principal in Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV). CTV addresses Chevron’s business needs through the identification and integration of innovative externally developed technologies that strengthen Chevron’s business now and in the future. Sindhu joined Chevron in 2009 as a business analyst and has held several positions in Strategy and Planning, Upstream, Downstream, Technology Ventures and the Technical Center. Sindhu’s work experience external to Chevron spans IP, investments, and R&D for the pharma industry.

Sindhu holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in technology (Bioprocessing / Downstream) from the University of Mumbai (India), a doctoral degree in Biochemistry & Biophysics and an MBA from the University of Houston.

  • Mom of three – one boy and two Westies
  • Love to travel, cook and learn about different dance forms.

Session 6: Adapting to Change: Building a Resilient Career in the Energy Sector Amidst Dynamic Shifts

March 29

The energy sector is undergoing significant transformations, driven by technological advancements, regulatory changes, and shifts in global energy demand. 'Adapting to Change: Building a Resilient Career in the Energy Sector Amidst Dynamic Shifts' dives into these transitions, highlighting the vital role of adaptability, innovation, and emotional resilience.

This presentation will emphasize the importance of personal skills such as the ability to rebound from setbacks and adapt to new situations in building a sustainable career in this fluctuating landscape. It explores how professionals can navigate the industry's uncertainties by developing a robust skill set that includes not just technical expertise but also a strong foundation in personal resilience and adaptability.

By discussing the intersection between the sector's evolving needs and individual career development, the talk sheds light on the critical attributes needed to thrive: continuous learning, the agility to embrace new opportunities, and the resilience to overcome challenges. It will focus on the dual challenge of navigating the sector's dynamic changes while cultivating the personal qualities essential for long-term success and fulfillment in the face of uncertainty.

Picture of Dr. Tatiana Mitrova
Dr. Tatiana Mitrova

Presenter: Dr. Tatiana Mitrova, Research Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University | SIPA and Founder and Director at the New Energy Advancement Hub (NEAH)

She is also Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) and Visiting Professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po).

She has twenty-five years of experience in dealing with Eurasian and global energy markets. From February 2017 to December 2020, she has been the Executive Director of the Energy Centre of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, a graduate business-school. From 2006-2011 she has been the Head of Research in the Oil and Gas Department in the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

  • Profound knowledge of the global and FSU energy markets - energy technologies, market organization and corporate strategies
  • 14 years of experience in business education
  • 8 years as Independent Director in the international public energy companies. Currently Dr. Mitrova serves as a board member of SLB (Schlumberger)
  • Strong focus on ESG and corporate climate strategies

Dr. Mitrova is a graduate of Moscow State University’s Economics Department. She has more than 200 publications in scientific and business journals and co-authors 10 scientific books as well as best-seller “The 8 and 1/2 Steps: How to Live, Love And Work At Full Capacity” (stories of women leaders).