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Meet Courtney Stephens of QED Energy Associates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Stephens.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
With a degree in mathematics, I was headhunted out of grad school by the oil business. I had never considered working in the oil and gas industry, but I was ready to start making money so took my chances and moved to Houston four days after my wedding.

It turns out that mathematicians are sought out in the oil and gas industry for the role of reservoir engineering technician. It took me about a year of sitting behind someone that knew the job well to learn the role, and once I did learn the role, my phone started ringing off the hook with recruiters throwing more and more money at me.

I honed my skills as a reservoir engineering technician over about seven years at three different types of firms – a consultancy, an investment bank, and an oil and gas operator. After having my son in 2007 and taking some time off with him, I decided it was time to make the jump.

I knew that people with the skills to do this job were in demand, and I also knew there had to be a more efficient way of making them. I started my LLC, and I picked six smart people. I trained them in my home office on Sundays and Tuesdays until they were ready. I placed them at big oil and gas companies and made some big fees. Then I was off and running.

I now recruit about 12 recent college grads a quarter, and we train them to be the world’s best reservoir engineering technicians, a role which is in high demand in good times and bad in the oil and gas industry. I was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 by the Houston West Chamber of Commerce, and I am happy to say I maintain a base of happy clients and happy employees at my offices in West Houston.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In 2014, the oil price crashed from over $100 per barrel to less than $50 per barrel almost overnight. Over the next twelve months, the price of oil got down to almost $25 per barrel. I knew that I needed to keep my staff busy, so I cut my own salary to $0, and I priced all of our hourly services as the price of a barrel of oil.

Our clients loved our promotion. They loved that we had just as much skin in the game as they had. If oil prices went down, they needed the discount to be able to keep going. And if prices went up, they were happy to pay me more.

Please tell us about QED Energy Associates.
I take young people with an aptitude for mathematics and logic and I train them over about 12 weeks to be great reservoir engineering technicians. They don’t pay me for the training. About 50% of the trainees that start with us are able to cross the finish line.

We place our successful graduates in roles at oil and gas companies, investment banks, energy lending firms, etc.

The people I have trained are the best of the best, and I have set them up for a lifetime of success in this role. One example is Leisha Sincox. Leisha was working as a Women’s Clothing Department Manager at a Target in Waco, Texas. After training with me, she became a banker at CIBC, one of the world’s largest investment banks. She thrives in her role, and her team will attest to the fact that her skills are second-to-none. We have made Leisha’s life better, and I am most proud of my successful trainees. Check out the results of my candidate’s salary survey here: http://qedea.com/salary-survey-information/

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would cut people from my training program quicker. Over the years, I have learned that it is cruel to be kind. If someone doesn’t have what it takes to do this job, I need to let them know as soon as possible. Letting someone continue down the path of training when they ultimately will not be successful is a waste of their time and mine.

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