Meet Sander Ray – Seeing the Big Picture
Advisor to Lisa Davis on Oil & Gas Business Strategy, with prior experience in Upstream and Midstream Engineering, Project Management, and Operations, Sander Ray shares his insights on how we are going to serve our Energy customers for the next 50 years.
Q: What major challenges do you see looming on the energy horizon?
The major challenge is the transition—most people agree on where we’ve come from and where we want to go, but as one of my old electrical engineering professors used to say, “It’s the transients that’ll get you.” So, we agree that we want affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint, but what paths are acceptable? How much carbon is acceptable while we move to a more renewable mix? We can’t immediately go to renewables and push the cost on consumers, especially in the developing world. In my opinion, natural gas is a great transition fuel while we learn how to store renewable energy and drive costs down. Natural gas has an economic mix of energy density and resultant carbon emissions, and we already have the infrastructure in place to allow it to be stored and transported efficiently.
Q: How can Siemens define its role in this energy transition?
Siemens stands out in the crowd because we’ve been in the O&G sector for so long—Industrial Revolutions 1.0 through 3.0, and now we’re shaping the fourth revolution. We have the depth of experience to help customers wherever they are on the path of transition, whether they’re taking their first steps toward electrification or going all-out for digitalization. So, our strategy should reflect that. We’re here to help our customers of the last 50 years, and we’re forward-looking so that we can serve the customers of the next 50 years.
Q: What would you say to other people in the industry about how to address complex matters facing their company, and how to get the corner office to listen?
Think hard and think holistically. And then figure out how to communicate as succinctly as possible. When faced with a complex challenge, it’s usually easy to find a solution that solves your immediate problem, but often it has an effect elsewhere. I’ve often made the mistake of recommending something that optimizes my team’s piece of equation instead of the whole. But when you go to the corner office to discuss a complex challenge, you must be able to speak clearly to the secondary or tertiary effects of a potential solution. Show that you’ve got a firm grasp on the challenge and what to do about it.
Q: What excites you about what you do?
I’m excited to have some influence with leaders whose decisions can have a positive impact on many people’s lives. I’m comfortable behind the scenes. I came to this role from an oil-and-gas exploration-and-production company, where my roles had me visiting a lot of factories. I met people who were proud of their work and their communities and wanted to stay where their families had been for generations, but industry changes disrupted their plans. It was hard to hear them say they didn’t know what they were going to do next. Now, in this role at this level with Siemens, I think a lot about how I could have a small part in helping the workforce, and that excites me.
Q: When your mind is farthest from oil & gas, what are you thinking about?
My family, the mountains and music. I have a wife and three boys, and we all love the outdoors. We especially like the mountains, but, being in Houston, we have to do some planning to get there. So we usually just settle for mountain biking near the bayou. I’m also an amateur musician and used to play drums in a local 90s cover band; I’ve always got some side project going on related to music. Beating a drum is great for stress relief.