Innovations That Inspire

Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP)

Recognition Year(s): 2017
School: Mays Business School, Texas A&M University
Location: United States

Innovation Statement

A certificate program developed by the Mays Business School and the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering provides business experience to engineering students and specialization in the oil and gas industry for finance students, increasing employability for each.

Call to Action

Former A&M students Anthony Bahr and Jay Graham, co-founders of WildHorse Resources in Houston, conceived of the Petroleum Ventures Program (PVP) to directly respond to two perceived challenges. First, many petroleum engineers aspire to start their own energy firms but are constrained by a lack of understanding of financial markets and the all-important issues of raising capital and managing the financial side of a startup. The second challenge is that existing energy firms (large and small) face a chronic talent shortage: technically competent engineering graduates traditionally lack business acumen, and, concurrently, otherwise strong business graduates have little understanding of the complex energy sector.

The PVP creates an academic avenue to bridge the competency gap from both directions. The program allows petroleum engineering students to increase their financial knowledge, and finance students to acquire technical energy-sector competence. Together, these two academic avenues address the observed knowledge gap challenges. The goal of PVP is to spur entrepreneurship capacities while preparing students to join energy firms or other energy sector careers within investment banking, private equity, and merger and acquisition (M&A) advisory services.


The following are critical components of the PVP:

  • Generous financial support: With a 12 million USD gift (split 50/50 between the business and engineering schools), the PVP is financially sound.

  • Broad student appeal: PVP targets petroleum engineering and business students interested in starting a firm, in work in energy finance, or in acquisitions and divestitures fields, as well as petroleum engineers or business graduates seeking specialized post-graduate training.

  • Strong governance structure: An advisory board provides guidance and support for curriculum, co-curricular skill development, internships, and employment opportunities. The program has strong oversight by its director, Detlef Hallerman, a Mays Business School Finance professor with degrees in petroleum engineering and with deep industry experience.

  • Rigorous coursework: The program has a two-way certificate design: in addition to meeting their own degree requirements, petroleum engineering students take five upper-level finance courses, and finance majors take five upper-level petroleum engineering classes starting in junior year, to earn the PVP certificate.

  • High-impact, team-based learning: Increasingly, employers seek students with strong team and communication skills. A capstone project has student teams evaluate historic petroleum acquisitions to create an exploitation strategy and determine a bid price and funding plan for the acquisition (including debt/equity structure, back-in provisions, and management participation). Teams present their plan to the PVP Advisory Board for review and critique.

  • State of the art learning technology:   
     The Petroleum Business Impact Lab will house big data sets and learning technology to support hands-on learning related to mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs, and other energy-sector business transactions.


The program will have profound impact at many levels:

  • Market-ready students for global energy employers: As petroleum markets rebound, hiring will pick up. A&M’s PVP graduates will be available for entry-level positions in operations and business functions. The PVP will produce well-rounded students with deep understanding of both the technical and business side of the petroleum industry.

  • Competitive advantage for program graduates: Jobs in energy finance have historically been among the highest paying, and jobs and competition among applicants is fierce. The PVP will help our students successfully vie for lucrative employment.

  • Integration and synergies for students: The PVP collaborative approach enriches the learning environment for students from both colleges. Engineering students bring strong technical and quantitative skills, and finance students bring subject-matter knowledge and business decision-making frameworks. The program will create immediate synergies for both groups and create a long-term professional network of potential partners who could create new independent energy firms.

  • Strategic importance for Mays: Our new strategic plan focuses on three grand challenges, areas of endeavor where the college aims for world-class results: energy, entrepreneurship, and health care.

  • Groundwork for other collaborative programs: The PVP is a successful prototype that will spur innovation and collaboration between Mays and other colleges at A&M. 

  • Increased visibility for Mays: Our undergraduate population is predominantly Texan. This program will broaden the school’s appeal to students nationally and internationally.

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