Duke alumna Lisa (Huber) Ganderson, Senior Associate for Investments with GE Energy, was recently named to the prestigious Forbes “30 Under 30 in Energy” list. Lisa graduated from Duke’s MEM/MBA joint degree program in 2014. We asked her to share her thoughts on energy technologies, entrepreneurship and her career in this Q&A.
What got you interested in a career in energy?
I first became interested in the energy sector because I wanted to help solve some of the biggest environmental issues facing my generation. As an avid outdoorswoman, I’ve always tried to find ways to minimize my personal impact on the environment, and tackling these issues on a broader, systemic level is an exciting and very rewarding way to apply my business acumen and analytical skillset. Finding more efficient ways to leverage our natural resources while developing new technologies that can reduce our environmental impact is critical.
What are some of the energy technologies/innovations on the horizon that interest you most?
One of my big focus areas right now is “digital oilfield.” While many other industries have successfully moved into the “digital age,” oil and gas has lagged, and there is much room for improvement. Some applications I’m currently excited about include: intelligent sensor technology for remote monitoring, machine-learning algorithms for drilling optimization, drones for leak detection, underwater autonomous vehicles for subsea inspection, just to name a few. These innovations will not only help the oil & gas industry reduce cost, but also increase employee safety, minimize environmental impact, and better predict and avoid future failures and potentially catastrophic events.
What do you work on in your current role with GE Energy Ventures?
I help find and assess early-stage energy companies for potential investment. In addition to closing new investments, I help manage our existing portfolio and try to find strategic ways to collaborate across GE. For example, one of our portfolio companies, Last Mile Fueling, utilizes GE technology to capture flare gas in the Bakken, compress it, and deliver the resulting CNG (compressed natural gas) to customers, reducing overall emissions and saving customers money on fuel. These environmental, strategic, and financial wins are what I work towards on a daily basis.
What do you think it takes for someone to be a successful entrepreneur in the energy space?
Passion and persistence. These sound basic, and are applicable to entrepreneurs in any field, but I think especially true for energy technology startups. With long product development cycles, policy uncertainty, high capital requirements, and a customer base that is notoriously slow to adopt new technologies and business models, passion and persistence are essential for making it in the long-run.
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- Leadership in practice: Creating an entrepreneurial career in the oil and gas industry
- Video: “A Bright Future: MBA Career Options in the Energy Sector”
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