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Professional Life

Engineering Management
By USBE Online
Sep 6, 2013, 19:40

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It is clear that the U.S. Department of Energy places tremendous trust in Christopher A. Smith. As the deputy assistant secretary for oil and gas in the Office of Fossil Energy in Washington, D.C., Smith is responsible for administering domestic and international oil and gas programs.

According to one Department of Energy official, Smith has “demonstrated leadership and technical competency that has improved the Department’s capability to accomplish its mission of ensuring that our Nation has secure access to safe, environmentally sustainable sources of energy.”

One only has to stay current with national and international events to have some insight into the challenges of Smith’s job. When the BP Deep-Water Horizon exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana in 2010 (spilling an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico), Smith was selected as the officer responsible for the oversight of President Barack Obama’s commission investigating the causes of the spill. Based on his performance with this task, he was appointed to the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee, and he chairs its Spill Prevention Subcommittee.

Smith has taken a comprehensive approach to his job—gathering information from those within and outside the government. He demonstrated that he values input from the public and led public events across the country on the issue of shale gas and hydraulic fracturing. Based on the feedback, he refocused the research that his organization conducts.

Additionally he implemented changes within his organization to address the challenge of safely developing shale gas resources. He also spearheaded an interagency initiative to address the challenges of safely and prudently developing unconventional oil and gas resources.

Smith has been an advocate for encouraging women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and math fields. He has been involved in mentorship activities and has maintained a 10-year relationship with his first mentee.

He began his career as an officer in the U.S. Army with tours of duty in Korea and Hawaii. He subsequently worked at Citibank and JPMorgan in emerging markets and currency derivatives. He also worked for 11 years in the oil industry with Texaco and Chevron. Smith holds a bachelor degree in engineering management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a master of business administration degree from Cambridge University.

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