Steve Scannell: The futurist - Energy Factor
Behind the energy

Steve Scannell: The futurist

Without fail, every time I’m back home visiting family in New Jersey my grandfather teases me about my job. He likes to joke that I work at a retail station in Texas and can’t understand why I won’t work closer to home. Like a lot of people, Exxon-branded retail stations and their iconic red rooftops are the single connection my grandfather has to ExxonMobil. But the reality is the retail network is just one part of our business. There is a lot more going on at ExxonMobil.

In a very real way, energy impacts just about everything we do: It fuels our cars, heats our homes and even powers the personal electronics and game consoles that have become such a part of everyday life. Energy is critical to economies around the world. The fact that ExxonMobil is a big part of the industry that supplies energy — and at an affordable price — is incredible.

At ExxonMobil I work on our Outlook for Energy annual report, which projects what global energy demand and supply will look like, not next year or the year after, but decades from now, in 2040. At the Outlook I track global natural gas markets. Every day I get to use some of the problem-solving abilities and mathematic skills I learned in school to analyze a number of economic and geopolitical assumptions. I also get to talk to a lot of very smart people, and I turn all of that raw information into comprehensive and impactful analysis that influences our long-term business.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is where I got my footing for the role, specifically while majoring in chemical engineering. What’s really cool about engineering is that it helps you break down a massive challenge into bite-sized chunks and then, using logic and deduction, craft solutions. This same mindset helps the people of ExxonMobil meet the daunting challenge of supplying the world with energy day in and day out.

I’m an engineer but music is a big part of who I am as well. At one point I even toyed with the idea of becoming a music teacher. Throughout high school I played in a jazz big band. Every morning we practiced at the crack of dawn in the school auditorium. Those early-morning sessions instilled in me values of discipline and dedication. I’m still playing guitar today in a band with a couple of ExxonMobil colleagues. I find that my engineering skills help me in my day job, but so do the values I developed through music.

But back to my grandpa. When I tell him what I do for the Outlook for Energy, it’s fun to see his reaction. For example, when I tell him about the amount of natural gas we produce, or even the fact that we ship liquefied natural gas around the world in massive cargo ships, it boggles his mind. But I’m sure he’ll still tease me next time I’m back home in Jersey.