Shell President returns to alma mater to inspire, advise students



The energy industry has made technological strides in the past decade, and an industry insider revisited campus to give back to his alma mater.

Marvin Odum, Shell Oil president and upstream director for its subsidiary Royal Dutch, discussed the move toward minimizing the company’s carbon footprint and the push to change the negative stigma surrounding the energy industry as part of the Bauer College of Business’s Distinguished Leaders series Wednesday night.

“People that are outside of the energy industry, they think about a company like Shell, and they (think of) these big, old, bureaucratic, boring companies,” Odum said. “But when you get into this business, and you look at the pace of the technological change, the cutting-edge technology of this business is comparable to any business out there.”

Energy sustainability and the future of the energy industry were some of the major topics Odum discussed.

Odum encouraged the students in attendance to broaden their horizons, saying that the energy industry caters to a multitude of disciplines.

“One of the things that makes this business so interesting, whether you’re an engineer, or a commercial person, a business person, an environmentalist, somebody that’s involved or interested in policy or government … this business touches every one of those aspects,” Odum said.

With more than 100 students, alumni and faculty in attendance, Dean of the Bauer College of Business Latha Ramchand projected her sense of fulfillment as a dean of a reputable college and the gratification of having a successful alumnus visit campus.

“As a dean, you want to recruit the most talented students,” Ramchand said. “You want them to do well, you want them to graduate on time well, you want them to go on and become successful alumni. Most importantly, you want them as successful alumni to come back and re-engage with the next generation of students.”

Houston is commonly known as the energy capital of the world, and the impact Odum has made on Houston through his presence in “both (the) technical and commercial aspects of energy” is significant, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Emerging Issues Program. The Program wrote that Odum was “responsible” for Shell’s increase of exploration businesses in the greater western hemisphere as well as Shell’s unique projects that studied gas and oil stands.

Finance and supply chain senior Niccolo Buchelli felt that encounters with industry leaders like Odum gave Cougars a unique opportunity to learn from the successes of alumni.

“The fact that a leader in a multinational corporation came to UH — it gives us the notion that he cares about Bauer’s excellence and that he sees the potential in Bauer students to solve the world’s complex problems,” Buchelli said. “It’s very exciting for a student, especially one studying business. Him coming here gives us hope to one day have accomplished the things he has and more.”

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