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Former chairman of Schlumberger Technology Corporation, Rod Nelson, reflects on his work with GCEP
Rod Nelson

Schlumberger, the world's leading oilfield services technology company, has been a sponsor of GCEP since the project’s launch in 2002. For the past seven years, Rod Nelson has been the Schlumberger representative on the GCEP sponsor management committee that serves as the primary interface between the GCEP leadership team at Stanford and the GCEP sponsor companies.

Rod recently retired as chairman of Schlumberger Technology Corporation. He currently serves as a senior advisor for Schlumberger Limited and as president and managing director of Liquid Robotics Oil & Gas, a joint venture between Schlumberger and Liquid Robotics, Inc. He joined Schlumberger as a wireline field engineer in 1980 and has held numerous positions in the company, including vice president of government and community relations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin and an executive MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

We wish Rod the best of luck as he prepares to transition from his role with GCEP. We asked him to answer a few questions for us about his time with the project.

Please describe your role as Schlumberger's representative on the GCEP management committee.

As a GCEP management committee member I participated in the discussions on the evolution of GCEP and the research focus areas for new proposals as well as the make up of the sponsor group.

What has been the most memorable part of being involved with GCEP over the years?

I think the annual symposium has been my favorite part of the GCEP experience. In these meetings not only do we hear about new research results, but also we get to interact with students and other sponsors in a more relaxed environment.

Rod Nelson at GCEP networking lunch
Rod Nelson (center) talks with GCEP graduate student researchers at a networking lunch at Stanford.

You have had numerous opportunities to interact with GCEP faculty and students. Please describe these experiences.

I have always found the students and faculty to be not only highly intelligent as one would expect but also highly interested in real-world energy issues. It is always gratifying to get asked questions about how the business is really doing, and what issues the companies face daily.

I have been impressed by the curiosity of everyone involved, importantly not just in their area of expertise but also in other areas and parts of what is today a very diverse energy system.

What do you hope will be the legacy of GCEP?

I believe the GCEP legacy will be played out via the students and researchers that have been part of GCEP. I am very proud of the people that have been sponsored by the GCEP funds, and I expect that these people will ultimately make significant contributions to the world’s energy future.

Rod Nelson (5th from the left) and members of the GCEP Management Committee
Rod Nelson (2nd from the right) and members of the GCEP Management Committee.

What did you learn from GCEP and how did it impact your work at Schlumberger?

I think we all took away from GCEP (including the GCEP researchers) a willingness to be open-minded about energy and the future. Often people come into energy discussions with a predisposition to a particular theme or source. I hope we all learned to pose the right questions and with an open mind and search for the best answers.

Based on your illustrious 35-year long career at Schlumberger, what advice would you give to students hoping to work in the energy industry?

The main advice I give young people entering the energy business or any business really is to stay flexible and open-minded. I started in Schlumberger in a technical role, but pretty quickly they asked me to do sales and marketing roles. At first I was not too excited about this, but it was a great experience and later on I came back to more technical roles. In the end the more diverse experience you can get the better off you will be especially if you are interested in general management.

What do you plan to do in your retirement?

I plan to try to give a little back by staying involved with mentoring young people in various ways. I am also on the board of a staffing company and a non-profit organization focused on keeping America’s wild areas and parks accessible to everyone for outdoor recreation.

April 30, 2015



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