Tony Albrecht

photo of Tony Albrecht

  • BA in Physics and Geology (2003); MS in Geology (2005)
  • senior geologist at Hawkwood Energy, a private oil and gas company
  • has travelled extensively for fieldwork, oil exploration, and drilling — including Canada, Mexico, South America, and western Europe
  • plans to start his own oil company

My Profession

"I am a senior geologist for a private oil and gas company. My day to day usually consists of planning where to drill wells across our acreage position in East Texas as well as analyzing reservoir, completion, and productivity data to best understand how to improve our economics. When we actively drill, I also use the geosteering process so we know exactly where the wellbore is located below the surface to target the best reservoir.

"My career path was driven by building lasting relationships, always being curious, embracing technology, having clear goals, and being outdoors. In high school I excelled at math and physics, so pursuing a physics major was high on my list — but I realized it wasn't a passion. During the summer of my sophomore year at Miami, I decided to take a couple geology classes, was immediately hooked, and became a geology major.

"As an undergrad, I was looking for a summer job where I could pair a passion for the outdoors and teaching. I was just about to accept a position as a camp counselor in Colorado, but I learned that a small oil and gas company in Houston was seeking a geoscience intern. I was hired by another Miami alumnus, Brian Payne, who gave me the jumpstart to my career that I'll never forget!

"That position got me hooked on geoscience technology and enabled me to explore geophysics with a mentor, write code to help pinpoint oil prospects, and get a fundamental understanding of what companies needed in a young geologist. My experience in Houston led to additional internships for the next two years at Unocal Corporation, and during that time, while doing fieldwork in Argentina and Chile, I completed my master's degree in geology at Miami.

"I still had a very strong desire to chase the outdoors, so I found a volunteer position through the Student Conservation Association and worked in Yellowstone National Park for 5 months cataloging geothermal features. It was an amazing job in an amazing setting, but I ultimately realized I couldn't sustain this sort of career and decided to focus on full-time work in Houston at major oil and gas companies.

"At BP it was like starting college all over, because I was one of a crop of new hires brought in at the same time. For two years I rotated through a deepwater development project (one of the biggest fields found in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico), Rocky Mountain Exploration, and finally an expat role in Canada. Along the way I met and cavorted with some of the industry's best folks in geoscience and learned through BP's internal training classes the fundamentals of exploration, production and development.

"At BP I met the woman of my dreams, and we decided to find jobs in Denver, where we've lived ever since. I worked 5 years for a small independent oil company called Forest Oil Corporation, which took me to Louisiana, Texas, Utah, South Africa, and Italy — doing everything from exploring for oil and putting together prospects to developing an asset by drilling wells. The network I built along the way took me to where I am today, Hawkwood Energy, where I've explored for oil and gas throughout the Western US and developed an oil field in East Texas for the past 5 years.

"Without relationships and persistent curiosity, I couldn't have gotten any of these positions, and I could never push myself as hard if I didn't have a loving spouse and family I care so much about. The consistent desire to learn more, figure out problems, understand the subsurface, and take joy in surrounding myself with smarter people have driven my career path.

"Having worked for smaller and smaller companies with more and more responsibility, I plan on starting my own oil company with a few of my most trusted colleagues. Along the way I hope to gain expertise in data analytics and round out my oil and gas knowledge with reservoir, completions, and drilling engineering. Miami has given me a very good background and core principles, and my array of coursework in math, physics, field geology, and much more proved to be helpful throughout my career."

Best Miami Experiences

"Developing relationships has always been one of the biggest rewards. Whether it was the guys in my freshman dorm, folks in the same apartment building, soccer teammates, classmates, professors, there are so many people from Miami that have stuck in my life. We share pictures, time during the holidays, beers when they are in town and stories through texts and emails about all the fun times we had.

"At Miami, I worked closely with professors and built mentorships, and this helped accelerate my learning and hone in on what I was passionate about in geology and geophysics. I learned early on that professor of geology Brian Currie and I had similar interests and drive, and impacted my decision to stay at Miami for a graduate degree.

"Professor Currie had a big impression on me when I first took his sedimentology and stratigraphy course and stayed with him all the way to graduate school. He had tremendous energy in the classroom and on field trips, was always patient with my endless questions, and knew the value of hard work. Our spring break trip with him to see the Cretaceous sediments in Utah was an experience I'll never forget. He knew how to push us, and I knew I could learn a ton from him.

"I was able to travel quite a bit doing geology fieldwork, including Argentina and Chile, and I was also active with Miami's club soccer team and Outdoor Adventure Club. These opportunities showed me a world different than Miami and certainly different than where I grew up. I also took a leadership role to help recruit new members and improve our funding. I was also able to attend and present my work at industry and academic conferences.

"All these experiences showed me a bigger world, one that I'm interested in learning and exploring for better answers to our problems. Doing so you also meet people that have different perspectives and provide opportunities for mentorship."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"First and foremost, the liberal arts provide perspective. By sampling a broad distribution of knowledge, you become a more capable professional. Being able to hold conversations or have some expertise in multiple subjects is crucial to your growth in business and building relationships.

"The liberal arts also provide opportunity. Most people don't know exactly what they want to do in life when they enter college, and a liberal education gives you the flexibility to try multiple paths while achieving a degree. Whatever your major, minor, or capstone experience, a liberal arts education gives you the opportunities to explore what brings passion to your life."

Advice to Students

"Even if you're in the CAS, you should take a business class or two — it will pay dividends and help ground you later in life when you realize so many decisions are made because of the economic considerations. Incorporate analytics, database knowledge, general coding into your learning — these are areas of huge growth and will drive the job market in the near term.

"For geology majors, be sure to take advantage of seeing as many rocks as possible by traveling abroad, going on spring break trips, and attending summer/winter small class opportunities. Present your work at conferences, get connected early to the industries you are interested in, and work during the summer, whether as an intern or for free at a company that may hire you down the road.

"Also, learn how to sell — every day in your job, you'll be selling something, whether it's your skills, a product, or an idea. Regardless, you need to get people on your side.
As you move forward, your vision for life and passions will certainly change. If you're an inward-looking person, you'll become more outward, and vice versa. If you have kids or a spouse, you will learn that their happiness is what inspires you. Surround yourself with amazing people who challenge you, and keep looking for mentors — people who are not afraid to tell you how terrible you are. And don't be afraid to work your butt off — deliver what your boss wants early, and start working on a project that adds value before they ask you to do it.

"Ultimately, if you are passionate, have interests outside of work, strive to have a great attitude, and yearn for criticism, you will succeed. And never be shy to ask alumni for help and advice!"

[March 2018]