OUR GREAT MINDS

Giorgio Villani

Giorgio Villani

Industry Economist, SGS North America, Inc.

Giorgio has always been a self-starter. Working in various industries, he was able to obtain a greater understanding of software, communication, risk, and energy. Early in life, he understood the importance of information technology and taught himself how to develop software. After graduating from high school, Giorgio spent time as a construction site supervisor, and then went to the University of Houston, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Upon graduating, he spent time in Switzerland as a programmer for an international hedge fund. During this time, Giorgio acquired a different perspective by seeing how businesses operate abroad. In addition, Giorgio became interested in various forms of trading, including FOREX and futures markets. When he returned to the United States, he began selling several types of life and health insurance. As an insurance broker, Giorgio learned the importance of planning forward and the concept that no company could ever last long without understanding the risks which businesses face on a daily basis, and implementing the systems that will mitigate that risk.

Now, as an industry economist for SGS, Giorgio researches information regarding the energy market, upcoming legislation, and other economic areas, providing his own strategic analysis and interpretation. Other items he has analyzed include the Renewable Fuel Standard, the expansion of domestic crude oil production, international trade patterns, and the effects of Federal Reserve policy on consumer sentiment. In addition, Giorgio’s role includes strategic asset placement, analysis of revenue by customer, analysis of service mix by profitability, development of most key performance indicators for employees, and providing one-on-one training sessions.

We asked Giorgio:

The OGM: What does sustainability mean to you?

Giorgio: Sustainability means finding a balance between various competing forces, in other words, creating systems which expand without diminishing their further capacity to grow. In many industries, there is a natural inclination to maximize profits without considering that growth comes at a cost. Being sustainable means creating the systems and processes by which the future is not sacrificed by the present.

The OGM: Have you had a mentor?

Giorgio: I have been inspired by many mentors in my life, though I find my father to have been my most important mentor. One particular phrase of his that has resounded in my life thus far has been, “Giorgio, surround yourself with people that are better than you, they will uplift you in every part of your life.” In this vein, I always look for mentors who bring experience and perspective to the table, especially those with a different skill set or viewpoint than mine. I find that the most interesting and profound ideas usually come about when discussing various issues with these people.

The OGM: What does success mean to you?

Giorgio: Dale Carnegie once said that his secret to success was “Listing the five most important tasks for the day and then doing them.” Success therefore means prioritizing tasks, honestly doing one’s best and learning from one’s failures.

The OGM: If you were to describe your career in three words, what would they be?

Giorgio: Learning, challenge, and perseverance.

The OGM: What advice would you give to someone looking for a career in the Energy Industry?

Giorgio: Do not become discouraged if you feel like you are not where you want to be in your career at first. The Energy Industry is highly interconnected and encompasses a huge range of technologies and disciplines; therefore, understanding one piece will give you valuable insight into another piece. Before you get impatient doing something you do not find interesting, remember what Francis Bacon once said: “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Companies need people who can innovate and make existing systems better and more efficient, as well as those who are inventive and look ahead to the future.

The OGM: Describe a milestone in your career?

Giorgio:  Representing my company as an industry economist at my first Oil and Gas conference in Washington, D.C., was definitely a significant milestone in my career. I was able to learn and share my knowledge and experience with my colleagues across the industry.

The OGM: Describe a challenge you faced in your career?

Giorgio: When I began work as an insurance broker, selling insurance door-to-door was one of my biggest challenges. Walking into doors of various companies I had no connection with and trying to win over the business owner (or even the receptionist) was incredibly difficult for me at first. I recognized that controlling risks and planning ahead is the key for a business to avoid significant losses if an unforeseen event occurred. My belief in the insurance products and awareness of the benefits encouraged me to continue, and as time progressed, I turned the activity into something enjoyable by cracking jokes and getting to know the owners. Eventually, business became profitable and my clients could rest easy.

The OGM: What impact does technology have on your career?

Giorgio: Technology is ubiquitous in the world as we know it today. For example, I rely on a fuel-efficient car to get me to and from work safely, and air conditioning makes working in hot humid locations such as Houston bearable. Similarly, collecting, sorting, and analyzing information can effectively be done only with the use of information technology. Data collection, data mining, web-based applications, and software programming are key tools in any analysts’ toolkit, regardless of the industry and role, and have been a major benefit to my career.

The OGM: What do the next five years look like in your career?

Giorgio: We live in the information age and the demand for more useful and meaningful data management will be critical in a business’s ability to make informed decisions, stay nimble, and operate in an ever-changing economy. In the next five years, I plan to lead the pack by staying up-to-date with technology and developing comprehensive solutions to everyday and long-term problems. A key focus for me will be to continually find ways to generate new capabilities, improve efficiency, and allow for flexibility.

The OGM: Were you always interested in a career in Energy?

Giorgio: I was not initially interested in energy, but rather the financial industry. After spending some time working at a hedge fund, I began to accumulate an appreciation for the commodity market. The market factors behind how commodities were bought and sold, and the risk mitigation provided by futures contracts seemed more appealing to me than the equity markets, which seemed to be less tangible. Additionally, the complex nature of extracting and storing fossil fuels and generating renewable energy fascinates me as I learn more and more about the mechanical and chemical processes involved.

The OGM: What interests you to sustain a career in the Energy Industry?

Giorgio: To me, the Energy Industry has some of the most interesting and intelligent people, and working with these people can be highly rewarding. The system of terminals, refineries, and pipelines constantly interact with each other in a complex web of interconnected systems. Within this complexity is contained a very efficient system of allocating resources, and any unacceptable amount of risk can be hedged against by utilizing various financial instruments. Though the system is very efficient, there are always ways to make improvements. Providing the right kind of technology in key places can save a company millions of dollars. The large potential to make a difference makes the Energy Industry a particularly exciting place to work.

The OGM: Do you have a role model you look up to?

Giorgio: It would be Steve Jobs, because he wanted to change the world by empowering the individual and learned from his many failures before achieving success.

The OGM: What does Energy mean to you?

Giorgio: To me, energy is the source of our productivity and development. Energy is what binds matter together; when you release energy, you power the world. We currently harness many forms of energy, mainly stored chemical energy, but look forward to potentially using more renewable sources: solar radiation, wind, and geothermal energy. Much of the renewable potential at the moment is driven by requirements set by the government, but I am optimistic about the technological advancements that will make these projects more cost effective. I am excited for our engineers and scientists to improve and innovate towards these new sources of energy and the efficiency of the current systems, so that we can drive human productivity to new levels.

The OGM: What is your favorite APP on your phone?

Giorgio: My favorite app would have to be Pandora, because it is a great way to discover new types of music.

The OGM: What impact will the Millennial Generation have on the Energy Industry?

Giorgio: The bottom line is that the Millennials are no different from the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Every generation has similar challenges, but always seeks to differentiate themselves from the last and have a tendency not to accept the status quo. Perceived higher creativity is only the result of information being much more readily available to them. Answers to questions can be much more easily obtained through forums, Google searches, and other forms of crowd sourcing. Though, as a dual citizen, I understand that people are becoming more interconnected than ever and cross-border collaboration will only continue to gain significance. The availability of and access to information allows the individual to perform research and develop ideas in a way that was previously limited to larger corporations. These connections will be leveraged by the generation to improve the entire system.

The OGM: What’s your take on Social Media and our ever changing digital world?

Giorgio: Social media has dramatically changed the way that business can interact with their customer base. Rather than millions of dollars being spent conducting surveys, information about customer satisfaction can be funneled directly to the business through online product reviews. Determining whether a product should be made and locating funding have now begun to come directly from the people that will eventually buy them, such as the case with the largest project-funding website, Kickstarter.

The OGM: What Social Medium do you use on a daily basis?

Giorgio: I have found twitter to be extremely useful in getting real-time information streaming to my phone, and, in reality, nothing symbolizes the information age better than Twitter. With millions of people’s lives, stories, promotions, banter, pictures, and opinions all streaming directly into your phone, we have never been this connected.

The OGM: Do you use Social Media for work?

Giorgio: I frequently use both SharePoint and LinkedIn for work: SharePoint because it is a great way to centralize communications in an organization, and LinkedIn because it assists in maintaining connections with colleagues, business associates, friends, and other business-minded individuals.

The OGM: What do you think of Social Recruiting?

Giorgio: Social recruiting has, in many ways, opened up the channel of communication between employee and employer. Now, rather than a company simply posting a job internally or utilizing headhunters to find potential candidates, the labor community can potentially get to know the company before starting to work for them. Better placement of high-quality candidates will only serve to improve the labor community as a whole.

The OGM: Why do you love what you do?

Giorgio: One of the reasons why I love what I do is that I am constantly surrounded by new and interesting issues. I know that when being confronted with a problem, though I may not start off with the solution, I have the confidence in myself that I will eventually find the solution. This working out of issues can be extremely rewarding to me personally. But in the end, being on the forefront of any industry, and then finding innovative solutions to these problems, fills my day with lots of excitement, with the added bonus that working in the energy field I know that I have a path for future personal development in an ever-evolving industry.

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