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Courtney Stephens

Courtney StephensCourtney Stephens

BS Mathematics, 2001
Centenary College of Louisiana

Senior Commercial Analyst
Business Development, The Americas
Marathon Oil Company

After college, I wasn't quite sure what to do with my mathematics degree. I had chosen mathematics as a major because I love problem solving and always found the subject challenging. When I married a chemical engineer, I knew my future could likely end up in America's Energy Capital, Houston, Texas.

Without a clue of how mathematics can be applied in the energy industry, I sent my resume off to a few recruiters in Houston and got several immediate responses. It turns out that math degrees are sought out in the energy industry for technical and analytical positions.

Mathematics can be applied in multiple sectors of the energy industry. In addition to the big oil companies, there are also many software companies, oil and gas investment banks, energy lending firms, engineering consultancies, etc. that service the energy industry. Companies need employees that can analyze data, model future growth, and calculate economics. Most companies purchase commercial software for modeling future oil and gas production, but these sophisticated programs are best handled by mathematicians.

I started my career as a petroleum analyst at an engineering consultancy. I worked as part of a multidisciplinary team that modeled future oil and gas reserves, production, and profit. The team included geologists, geophysicists, reservoir engineers, and petroleum analysts. As the petroleum analyst, it was my job to analyze the historical cost, price, and production data to determine input parameters for the new models. I was also responsible for running the model, performing sensitivity analysis in conjunction with the reservoir engineer, and checking the model for errors and accuracy.

I then moved to an investment bank specializing in oil and gas transactions, sometimes called acquisition and divestiture firms. These boutique firms serve as the realtors of the oil and gas industry, helping companies to buy and sell oil and gas properties. Again part of a multidisciplinary team, as an engineering technologist one of my responsibilities was to locate synergies within the industry. For example, if Company ABC has one thousand gas wells in Texas and one oil well in California and Company XYZ has one thousand oil wells in California and one gas well in Texas, doesn't it makes sense to coordinate a trade? Worldwide, there are thousands of databases that one can mine and manipulate to find potential value.

In 2005, I was hired as a senior level engineering technician at Marathon Oil Company. At Marathon, I have worked as part of the budget planning team, the exploration team, the production and operations group, and now the business development team. As part of the business development team, I am leveraging all of the skills that I have built thus far in my career, including stochastic modeling techniques, database manipulation, synergy identification, and more. More than ever before, oil and gas companies have a strong focus on safety and the environment. As new technologies develop to meet worldwide energy needs, mathematicians will continue to be in demand in the oil and gas industry. For mathematicians just starting their corporate careers, I highly recommend exploring the opportunities at Marathon Oil Company and in the energy industry.