My life is a patchwork of experiences that helped shape and enable my career as an entrepreneur and leader. I was born in Carrizo Springs, a small southwest Texas town, where my family lived until my father joined the state department when I was in 4th grade. His job took us all over the world: Amman, Jordan; Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Jose, Costa Rica… along the way, we spent time in Israel, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Spain, France, Germany, Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama.
My affinity for business started in the streets and alleys of Jerusalem where I haggled with vendors peddling all kinds of trinkets and wares. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was then that I became fascinated with the art of negotiation and drunk with the thrill of the deal.
Living overseas gave me a worldly outlook and a degree of humility. It also instilled in me a great deal of confidence: I learned to appreciate and identify risk and opportunity after spending so much time in third-world countries.
I came home to Texas in 1991 and began my college career at Rice University in Houston. I received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University in 1996.
I had two job opportunities immediately after graduating: one with Rohm and Haas (R&H) as a utilities engineer at their largest plant in Deer Park, Texas or a sales position with Shell. I decided to solidify my technical competencies before entering the world of sales, so began my career with R&H. I made the most of my five-year career with R&H; from that position I moved on to become a unit process engineer at their Bayport, Texas plant and finally landed a coveted Start-up Engineer position for their Louisville, Kentucky plant.
After the successful completion of the start-up, R&H determined I had strong leadership potential and asked me to be part of their upcoming global SAP implementation. This was a very high-profile job, but by this time I really had the sales bug and SAP did not appeal to me. So, once again I returned to Texas and took a sales job with a small process safety company called Berwanger, Inc.
I spent a short time learning and understanding the primary work process and product of Berwanger, and then finally got a chance to try my hand at sales. I loved it! During my two and a half year tenure, I helped Berwanger increase annual revenue by 70%. My accounts included ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Sunoco and I once again found myself negotiating all over the world with travel to Kazahkstan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.
In 2004, with two other partners, I started Celerity3 Engineering, Inc. We provided process engineering and process safety solutions to the oil and gas industry (i.e. upstream assets, refineries, and chemical plants). In 2006, I orchestrated the buy-out of one of my partners coupled with the buy-in of three new minority shareholders.
Celerity3 did very well: From January 2004 to my departure in November 2010, the company went from an independently-owned start-up to an acquired multi-million dollar engineering subsidiary. Revenue growth from 2004 to 2010 was on the order of 4800% with year on year growth averaging nearly 100% over the same period. Our company grew and our client list expanded to include BP, Chevron, Dow, Shell, Tesoro and Valero. In sum, while the U.S. and the world was experiencing one of the worst economic recessions to date, Celerity3 was sailing through its best years.
In 2008, Celerity3 was acknowledged by the Houston Business Journal as one of the Fastest-Growing Houston-Based Companies of 2008 as well as one of the Largest Houston-Based Energy Engineering Firms.
Lloyd’s Register acquired Celerity3 Engineering, Inc. in 2008. This proved to be a great opportunity both professionally and personally: Lloyd’s Register allowed us to continue to run the company and I was exposed to and participated in the integration activity of multiple acquisitions. Operations for Celerity3 expanded globally with contract awards in Thailand, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Mexico and I played a significant role in a billion dollar, 7,000-person company with offices in 240 countries.