The Happy Engineer Podcast

116: How our Struggles Lead to Happiness with Ryan Roper | Global Leader in Energy Management | Keynote Speaker

In this episode, we journey from the island, to the city, to an offshore oil platform in pursuit of wisdom from the life of energy management expert, Ryan Roper.

If you know that leaving a legacy through your life, your work, and your family matters deeply to you, then this episode is going to hit home.

Ryan’s career in the energy sector began at birth, being from one of the oldest oil provinces in the world, and is a true global expert with nearly two decades of hands-on experience. 

We dismantle the power of fear that holds engineering leaders back from their potential, and how to face the uncertainty of a future full of innovation.  Whether it’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, transitioning toward net-zero and more sustainable energy solutions, or dozens of other areas, you need to be ready to face these challenges head on.

Ryan holds his Bachelors in Chemistry from Morehouse College, Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech, Masters in Business and Energy Management from Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, and studied Data Analytics at Harvard. 

So press play and let’s chat… you may not take a helicopter to work, but it’s time to get a 3,000 foot view on your life and happiness!

Join us in a live webinar for deeper training, career Q&A, and FREE stuff!  HAPPY HOUR! Live with Zach

Get access to bonus content and live coaching as growth-minded leaders build careers together. Join our Facebook Group


The Happy Engineer Podcast



[00:01:03] Meditative, surreal experience working on offshore platform.

[00:04:20] High stakes, strict regulations, safety prioritized.

[00:08:41] Trinidad and Tobago: oldest oil province. ChemE overcame obstacles to succeed.

[00:13:55] Developing deep technical skills, moving into project management

[00:18:06] Independence in figuring out unique individual perspectives.

[00:23:08] Global competition in engineering, diversity, and coaching.

[00:27:06] Fear is everywhere, recognize it and move on.

[00:30:23] Transformation, legacy, fear—often disguised. Recognize.

[00:34:43] Acknowledging Ryan as beacon of hope in energy transition, encouraging others to get involved and celebrating his passion. Interested in discussing technology and energy landscape.

[00:37:39] Chemical and mechanical engineering are valuable. Pair with practical skills and growth mindset.

[00:39:19] “Remembering Purdue, learning mechanics, and finding purpose.”





Previous Episode 115: Fail Early (Not Often) and Succeed Later with Mark Graban | Award-Winning Author | Lean Engineering Expert



I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Ryan Roper as much as I did.

While there’s so much to share about the net zero landscape and the transition towards sustainability, I encourage you to connect with Ryan and have that conversation yourself.

Something Ryan shared reminded me of a memorable experience back in 2018.

My friend Ken Whah, who was featured on episode 24 of the podcast, invited us to participate in a Tough Mudder race. It’s an intense event where crazy obstacles and lots of mud challenge participants. We joined a group of strangers and embarked on this journey together.

As we faced each obstacle, covered in mud and pushing ourselves, something incredible happened.

By the end of the race, we had become close friends bonded by the shared struggle. It made me realize the power of overcoming challenges together.

In our conversation, Ryan mentioned two powerful aspects. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, he faced struggles that ignited his drive and intrinsic motivation. And the hours spent in chemistry labs, though torturous, formed lifelong friendships.

These struggles, though difficult at the time, have been pivotal to Ryan’s happiness, success, and impact. It’s fascinating how the hardest things can ultimately become the most meaningful.

In life, career, and engineering, we often wish for an easier path. However, it’s the difficult moments, the challenges we embrace, that shape us the most.

Don’t let the part of you seeking comfort hold you back. Instead, strive to become stronger, stepping out of your comfort zone, and facing your fears.

Happiness and fulfillment lie on the other side of struggle and perseverance.

Embrace your current challenges as sources of growth and happiness.

If you need support in navigating these hardships, reach out to us.

Let’s face the tough things together and become stronger. Reach out to us via this link.



Ryan Roper is an accomplished Project Leader with over two decades of experience in the energy industry. He has successfully established robust project frameworks and provided expert direction in project design, engineering, procurement, and construction execution.

With a solid background in both technical and business aspects, Ryan demonstrates exceptional acumen in leading large-scale development projects. His expertise lies in infrastructure related to Energy Systems, where he actively promotes the integration of technology, analytics, and digitization. He excels in coordinating diverse teams across multiple disciplines and functions to achieve project success.




Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Ryan, what’s up man? Welcome to the Happy Engineer Podcast. I’m glad you’re here.

[00:00:06] Ryan Roper: I’m very happy to be here. This is actually my first podcast, so I’m very excited to do this. 

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:10] Zach White: Well, you couldn’t have picked a better place to break into the podcasting world and what I know about you and your story, it’s going to be a tremendous start.

[00:00:19] Maybe a bar that’s too high for any other podcast to get over. Ryan, so you, you peaked early. You peaked early, but, um, what I’d love to. Get from you first, knowing your background in the energy sector, working in oil and gas, and having tremendous experience as an engineering leader there and a project manager in that space.

[00:00:38] Would you be willing to take us out onto the rig, out onto a platform? Uh, this is purely selfish, right? When I was thinking about you and your experience, I’m really curious what that actually is. Like, what is that experience of being out there 24 7 and the work that happens? So tell me a little bit.

[00:00:56] Maybe what happens? What is that like to actually be out on the platform? 

[00:01:02] Ryan Roper: it’s, you know, to be honest, it’s a surreal, a surreal moment sometimes when you are out there on a platform, we call it a, a rig is usually a drilling rig, so there’s usually a derrick and it’s drilling.

[00:01:14] But generally, really, I, I work on a, a, a gas platform that’s actually already producing, for example. and it’s really surreal sometimes when you’re sitting out there in the dark by yourself and you’re looking out at. And it’s only ocean, right? It’s just ocean. And you, you can feel the breeze. And it’s, it’s really a great place to meditate actually.

[00:01:32] the day really begins in such a way that you head to the heliport. It’s where you. check in to get to the, onto the chopper. Not many people go to work via chopper. Right? So it’s, uh, that, that alone is a, is a, is a really, sometimes I forget to even think about how, how different that, that experience is.

[00:01:51] And then you, you take the chopper, you head over and. of course there’s a safety briefing. The safety moment you really understand, oh wait a second, I’ve got to turn my lights on now. And, and really be aware of the moment and really be aware that something can happen whereby I would need to brace for, for example, and I would need to.

[00:02:10] enact my training because you’ve gotta go under training. to be ready in case of an accident, right? So you, the, the light switch turns on at that moment and you’re ready just in case something happens. And as you arrive at the site, on the platform, there are people there who greet you.

[00:02:27] When you get on board, it’s like a brotherhood really. It’s, I would say when I first started, maybe many years ago, 20 years ago, uh, going to platforms, it was generally 95%, 98% males, and now I would say There are a lot more females on, on platforms now. Mm-hmm. And it really is like, I, I can’t say brotherhood anymore because it’s, it’s, it’s just that everybody is together and we all feel together on this, yes.

[00:02:51] On this, massive, platform form with a huge amount of gas beneath it. So we all have to be each other’s keeper. We’ve all gotta be careful, we’ve all gotta be professional There’s a level of camaraderie that happens when you go into the cafeteria when, when you’re working together and you do this 24 7, right?

[00:03:08] Right. Most times people work maybe 12, 14 hours a day, and then you head into your, to your room many times you, you. To sleep essentially because the platform moves with the waves, so it can be quite, uh, a nice resting period, a nice sleep because you, you get to move with the waves. That’s interesting. At times.

[00:03:27] Zach White: Remind me really quick, how far offshore are these platforms? Like what’s the distance from what land? 

[00:03:33] Ryan Roper: So it varies according to where in the world you go in Trinidad and Tobago, for example. many of the platforms, in the Columbus Basin, we call it, are, are about 42 miles offshore. It’s okay.

[00:03:44] usually a 30 minute shopper ride one way and 30 minutes 

[00:03:48] Zach White: back. Okay. Wow. So truly out in the middle of nothing but, but blue. And you’re describing the sereneness of it. I’ve never really considered the meditative nature of being on a, on a platform. That’s really interesting. My impression is this is a high stakes, high stress environment.

[00:04:06] Is that the case? Like during the day when we’re actually doing the work? Is that what it feels like? Or is it actually maybe because of how disciplined the procedures are and the safety in place that it doesn’t actually feel that way? What’s, what’s that like? Um, 

[00:04:20] Ryan Roper: Well, it can vary, right? So during normal operations, yes.

[00:04:24] It, it’s steady operations. Everybody knows their jobs. They’re a strict permit to work regulations. Everybody knows that you’ve gotta go to the, the offshore manager gets your work signed. really? Very much aware of work tomorrow, the work the next day after that.

[00:04:41] And what you’re gonna do today, and you gotta keep present. And in the moment, and, and really safety is at its peak. Everybody is really attuned to the safety needs. And again, Keeping, uh, being each other’s keeper. Mm-hmm. Now, on drilling rigs, when you know, time is more of the essence, for example, we’ve got drilling ongoing then it can be a little bit more high stakes because some of these.

[00:05:05] Drilling rigs can cost upwards of a million dollars a day. Right. Wow. And some of the accessories, meaning the standby vessel, the, the groceries that come every day, the logistics vessels, each of these things come at a cost. there’s very little room for error because if you’ve missed placing the right equipment on board, a vessel run, for example, that needs to be out on Friday.

[00:05:30] at the re on Friday, and you’ve missed it. That’s Three days additional because somebody has made a mistake. Yes. And each of those days is a million dollars, right? So now you’re talking about high 

[00:05:40] Zach White: stakes. So no doubt during I can say confidently, Ryan, I, I never made a 3 million mistake in my whirlpool.

[00:05:48] Well, actually, that, I’m not gonna say that. Maybe I did. I’m not, I’m not sure. But, uh, not many. Not many that I could remember so well, okay. Before I walk away from this, Is there a, a, like a pinnacle moment, something that for you, of all the days or weeks or months that you’ve spent doing that work in your career, is there anything that really stands out as something that you just celebrate as like this was an amazing moment or achievement in that work?

[00:06:16] Ryan Roper: You know, Most of the achievements, most of the things that we get done every day is really an achievement. But I would say one thing that really, really resonates with me and still today, is after working maybe three years on the design of a compressor and bringing people from all over the world together in terms of its design from Italy and US and China, and bringing.

[00:06:41] All of these folks together, and I did, did that from the office and you travel to, just to make sure all of the equipment is right, et cetera. Uh, I think one pinnacle moment for me was when the, the compressor, the engine of the compressor was actually being brought on from the vessel 

[00:06:57] and being installed on site. And for some reason because that, that, at the time the compressor was really the Juul of this massive platform that we had built, and this compressor was gonna run essentially the entire, the engine, the Juul of the entire design.

[00:07:12] And when that was being installed, I remember having such a, a feeling of, real accomplishment because of all the. Many people that were involved in making that particular moment happen. 

[00:07:25] Zach White: Wow. Could, could you put some scale on that for me? When you say, you know, engine, a compressor, like, like some engineering terms, maybe Like how many horsepower?

[00:07:32] Or like, like literal, like we’re talking like a 10 foot by 10 foot kind of, no. Like what are we, what are we talking 

[00:07:38] Ryan Roper: about? No, you’re talking about a massive compressor that’s going into One of three compressors. We in fact had to build a platform because these things are so big. These are GE compressors built in, in, in, in Italy, and they, were then brought over here, placed, on site in the middle of the ocean in Trinidad, 42 miles offshore.

[00:07:59] So that, that’s the type of, that does sound scale we’re 

[00:08:02] Zach White: talking about. That does sound amazing. We have to use like a Huey to get ’em off of one ship and onto the, the platform or how do you actually move it? 

[00:08:09] Ryan Roper: We’ve got cranes. So we’ve got cranes. Cranes after all crane.

[00:08:11] Okay. That, uh, are able to take 

[00:08:13] Zach White: them man alive. Okay. Well, I, I wish I could have been there. It sounds amazing. Sounds Well, Ryan, you, you mentioned Trinidad and Tobago. I think it’s appropriate for us to back up a little bit because anyone listening can tell you’re not from Indiana where I was born, and, uh, Trinidad Tobago is, is home base for you.

[00:08:31] So take us all the way back really quick, kind of your childhood and upbringing there and what led you. Down the path that ultimately got into engineering and oil and gas. 

[00:08:41] Ryan Roper: Well, Trinidad and Tobago for people, people who may not know is one of the oldest oil provinces in the world. We’ve been producing 

[00:08:49] oil commercially for more than a hundred years. so from the age of maybe 11 or 12, uh, I knew I wanted to get into the energy, into the oil and gas business. I saw my uncle and aunt and other people, working in, in this space, and I knew I wanted to leave my mark there. And I knew I wanted to be a chemical engineer, and it’s not been an easy road coming from an island.

[00:09:09] I continue to be grateful to my mom and my dad. For, for really being able to spot my, acumen to towards stem. And really my relentless determination to succeed. I always have had this sort of relentlessness about me and getting a scholarship first to Morehouse College and then going on to do chemical engineering at, at Georgia Tech, and then studying data analytics at Harvard is, it’s not a easy road for anybody, but especially somebody coming from a, from a little island in, in the Caribbean.

[00:09:41] And I, based on my. Path. I, I know that it’s, it’s possible for anybody to, to, to really envision something, envision a dream, a goal. Yes. And go after it. And I think that things that probably stop people from achieving their goals, you know, most likely it’s, it’s, in my opinion, it’s in my experience, it’s fair.

[00:10:02] One and two, it’s about maybe how you’re socialized and maybe the environment that you’ve. Brought up. Mm-hmm. You were brought up in, and I think the first thing that anybody should do, especially an engineer, is, is work towards overcoming your own fears and your own insecurities. Yes. 

[00:10:20] Zach White: Fear and conditioning.

[00:10:22] So we will talk about those more I’m sure, throughout this conversation. But I’m curious then that, that cultural conditioning being on a small island in, in the Caribbean, how would you describe the distinction of. What that conditioning is like on the hold. I mean, we know we’re painting with a broad brush here versus what, you know, maybe somebody who was born in a big city in the US and came from a, a metro area and had that experience.

[00:10:48] What are the major differences in that conditioning that you experienced? 

[00:10:53] Ryan Roper: you’re making me think deeply here become my, yes. It’s, it’s really, I would say growing up on an island, it’s, they’re not, not as many. exposure to, uh, things coming to you very quickly. So Amazon doesn’t come to you in two hours or in a day, right?

[00:11:09] It’s, it’s much different. You, you gotta wait maybe two or three days when you gotta wait, uh, two hours in, in the us Uh, I think when I was growing up, you know, Amazon wasn’t even around, so it was even longer than that. They have to wait, wait two weeks or three weeks to get, to get some of the things that, people in the, in the US would get.

[00:11:29] And as I moved to the US and I’ve lived there for quite a while now, maybe 10 years I’ve spent in the us, the major difference that I see is that, that you’ve got to. Work to get the drive sometimes. Whereas in the, in Trin, that drive was sort of instilled in you.

[00:11:47] You, you get that sense of purpose, I think. Hmm. Just because of the surroundings. Whereas in the US your, your surroundings may be a little bit easier and therefore the drive, the passion from within to get ahead and do more and be more may come later in life than it might in a smaller place where you have to struggle a little bit more.

[00:12:10] Zach White: Really interesting. And. Anecdotally, if you just look around at what’s happening in culture in the US right now, lots of people, including myself here on the Happy Engineer Podcast, talking about the importance of purpose and meaning in our work and getting connected to that deeply. It’s really becoming a, a mainstream message for the first time, perhaps ever, but also 

[00:12:34] This desire of the boomer generation and you know, our parents and to make the lives of their children much, much better than theirs were. And this sort of continual upgrading of that experience to a point where now there’s a lot of new questions being asked of, have we made it too easy? And, and so people don’t have to, the comedy you made of this deep sense of drive and purpose and hunger to go and create something, uh, that’s really fascinating.

[00:13:01] So, You took that drive, you knew you wanted to be in chemical engineering and then left Trinidad and Tobago to go to Georgia Tech, right? 

[00:13:10] Ryan Roper: well I started off at Morehouse College, so I, I, I went to Morehouse College, did chemistry there first. Okay. And then went on and did chemical engineering. So that’s, that’s how it happened.

[00:13:20] Zach White: Yes. Okay. And so, I’m curious for you, when you got that Chem E degree and started that, like that first role, was it everything that you hoped it would be and like the dream came true and it was exactly what you hoped it would be as a kid? Or was there some, disappointment around, whoa, this isn’t what I thought it would be like, what were those first couple years after you got your degree like, 

[00:13:44] Ryan Roper: So I’ll talk about first my, my senior year of tech.

[00:13:47] Wow. That, that was a shocker for me. that was one of the toughest years of my life. Okay. How so? How so? 18, 18 hours a day in the lab and really gaining some of the best friends that I’ve. Ever had who are still my friends today because of that shared experience of, pure torture, I guess is what it’s in, in chemistry lab, in senior year lab.

[00:14:14] But then after that, yeah, so I, I went straight, straight into process engineering and I worked, with a, design firm as part of a small team to, to design a gas facility, a small gas facility. And it was here in Trinidad actually. So I came here, designed this small gas facility and as a brand new, as somebody straight outta school.

[00:14:34] And again, the team was really small and so I really had to develop very, very quickly because really there was maybe one senior engineer and I had to do a lot of it. In that first three years, in the first years after, college, I was really focused on building my depth of knowledge, my depth of awareness.

[00:14:54] Yes. And I I’m gonna recall a story here, So in Trinidad we call a social gathering liming, right? So we go on a lime and it’s a noun and a verb, so you can lime at a lime, so, so, and I recall in the depths of. Designing this facility, I would be in a place where I was so engrossed that I could see myself questioning people’s jokes, and I would be like, no, no, according to how we write jokes, because I was so involved in my specifications, et cetera, and I could see myself really getting to a pla place of annoyance for other people because I was so technically minded, right?

[00:15:36] So I, I could see myself getting really, really deep. Into process engineering. And, and, and I would say for the first few years of being a process engineer, I was so involved, so in love with, being a process engineer, I started to notice the behavior with myself as well. And I think, you know, after a couple years I realized, wait a second, if I continue down this road of deep.

[00:15:59] Process, you know, I’ve got to be able to lift my head up out of the, the trough, trough for, for a few minutes mm-hmm. So that I can talk to other people as well, so that I can really, because then the people that I spoke to, my close friends be were engineers as well.

[00:16:15] And then I be, became really, really engrossed in engineering speak and. That’s one thing I would say that I wished I had done a little bit earlier, started to develop my non-technical capabilities. Yes, my non-technical skills and how I communicate and really being able to speak to people outside of the engineering discipline.

[00:16:36] And that’s, After maybe five years of, deep engineering, that’s what I, I decided to do and I moved into project management and now I can see a massive difference in how I interact with people from all walks of life. 

[00:16:49] Zach White: Well first and most importantly, I’m going to use the word lime in a sentence today at some point.

[00:16:56] I really love that. We’re gonna lime at the lime tonight, gentlemen. Let go. You know you’re going liming. Yeah. Ladies, ladies, let’s go. Liming later. This will be amazing fun. Uh, so good. Well, it’s interesting and true, you know, maybe even the subject of many cartoons and memes on the planet about engineers that we do get our heads so deep into.

[00:17:18] Our work often driven from a place of passion for what we do. We love the work, but then somebody’s, you know, clearly being sarcastic or tells a joke and we’re picking apart the untrue bits of what they just said and then, you know, stamp the stereotype on the forehead of the engineer. So this idea, and I think, you know, when we’ve talked before, you’ve used this idea of becoming a translator and how that’s a really a superpower for you and I can’t agree more.

[00:17:46] Even the way you speak here on the show, but our work together and just knowing the success you’ve created now in your own work as well, but this translation, so when, when you say to someone, Ryan, I am a translator, what does that really mean to you and how does an engineering leader develop that skill?


[00:18:06] Ryan Roper: I think. it’s, it’s independent. You, you gotta be able to figure it out on your own, because it’s so unique to each individual. But what I can offer is that, I’ve actually come a long way from picking apart jokes and pointing out the inaccuracies of jokes. And I’ve, yes, you have.

[00:18:23] I’ve been able to utilize that process engineering background, that the, the ability to connect dots and, and really shift into project management. And what I have really worked on is understanding how to. Even across disciplines, this engineering disciplines to understand, you know, chemical engineers versus pipeline engineers versus mechanical engineers who all think they’re the best, right?

[00:18:48] So I’m able to speak with them, really understand where they’re coming from, what the risks are, have the conversation with them, and then I, I, I, I’m able to really pick out what their concerns are. And from a project management perspective, I’m able to address their concerns individually. And it’s, it’s tough work because you gotta go to them individually to really understand what they’re trying to say.

[00:19:14] And then I’m able to take that information, information and then take it across to procurement folks, salespeople, construction managers, technicians who all speak their own different languages. And most important, I think it’s the executive level. How do you package message in, in that really tight way that allows them to understand the options available.

[00:19:36] The risks associated with the options, and then how do you frame a decision in a way that executives can really very quickly make a decision? Mm-hmm. 

[00:19:48] Zach White: This skillset is, in my opinion, Ryan, and I want to hear your thoughts. One of the differentiators of what makes someone. Exceptional in the type of work you’re talking about and then able to break through to, you know, director, vp, CTO level roles in their career, if that’s what they want to do, versus folks who really never quite break it out of the middle management levels, cuz they’re, they’re still always lost in the details or unable to, to bring that simplicity for someone above them to understand and quickly make decisions.

[00:20:26] I’m curious for you, is there a trait or something about the individual that you think predicts or helps you know, somebody to, to get there if someone struggles with this, or do you say anybody could do it if you’re just willing to do the work and practice and get the reps and train? Like, what’s your thought about this?

[00:20:46] Is, is this something anyone can do or is there something about the individuals who really, really thrive on this that makes them unique? 

[00:20:54] Ryan Roper: anyone can do it. However, you’ve got to be able to let go of the ego, let go of the self, because it, you gotta have empathy with the individual that you’re listening to.

[00:21:05] You gotta be able to put yourself in his or her shoes, but at the same time, you have to have that level of engineering background or maybe logical background to, could be able to connect dots quickly. So that’s why I, I always say engineering is a really, phenomenal, solid educational background to build upon.

[00:21:27] And you can, can be, become anything from there because it really sets the tone to help you connect dots, once you’re able to be empathetic, once you’re able to connect the dots, And, and listen and, and connect the dots. Then you go away and you think about it for a bit and, and how you then package the information to communicate in such a way that you send the information, the message in a way that executives or whoever your audience is, you, you also need to understand what they want to receive and then you package it accordingly to, to, to, you know, what?

[00:22:02] Procurement folks are looking for mm-hmm. To what construction managers are looking for, et cetera. Mm-hmm. And, and any, to your point, one more thing I would say is there are a lot of options today. There is a lot of competition today. One more thing about, being in Trinidad, I think you recognize earlier that your competition is global, whereas in the states, you tend to think that your competition is America, and that’s a difference.

[00:22:28] it’s more prevalent or it’s more wide. It’s greater awareness. Yes. That your competition is global and not only global. From humans, but global, from AI machine learning as well. so now you’ve got to differentiate yourself via that ability to communicate.

[00:22:46] And engineering is no longer just technical or just science. There’s an art to engineering now whereby by, it’s how you communicate, how you. Feel about uncertainty and how you, how you meet, uncertainty. And then I think how you promote inclusion, how you promote diversity and equality of opportunity. 

[00:23:08] Zach White: Ryan, I.

[00:23:09] I think this is an important point to sit on for just a moment, this global competitive landscape, because you’re absolutely right that my upbringing being born in Indianapolis, Indiana,dad worked for Bell Labs and at and t when, you know, they were the the single largest telecom on the planet.

[00:23:27] It’s just like everything revolved around that and the government split ’em up and all those things. Well, when I went to college, It was that first exposure to international students, you know, it was like, wow, where did all these different people come from? You know, this is wild. And then the first time I ever felt that deep sense of competition, you know, I was valedictorian at my high school, but everybody generally speaking looked like me and came from a similar background as me, and then got to Purdue and it was like, wow, this is a really interesting experience to be challenged by some brilliant engineers from all around the world.

[00:24:02] And. Now today, think about the work I do with Oasis of Courage. A lot of people wonder like, why do you have so many software developers and architects and people who are in technology who come to you for coaching when you’re a mechanical engineer? by background, it’s first of all, my background has very little to do with the coaching, but second of all, I think that’s the area of engineering that feels that global pressure the most, right?

[00:24:26] Yes. Because. They are literally sitting at a desk working from home, and it can happen from anywhere around the planet. So people are applying for their jobs from every country around the world. Whereas, you know, if you’re a manufacturing engineer in the factory, somebody has to be willing to come to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete with you for that job, and they don’t feel it quite as much.

[00:24:47] And so just that awareness to, to make that a point, I think that’s going to start to be felt. In every corner of engineering, not just technology, but I’m curious your thoughts if, if somebody says, yeah, that’s interesting Ryan, but it doesn’t apply to me, what would your thought be for them? 

[00:25:07] Ryan Roper: let’s say you’re in a plant in Alabama, for example, a Cara plant, and you, you working as an industrial engineer or mechanical engineer with the advent of machine learning and ai.

[00:25:16] For example, instead of five engineers, it’s probably gonna be two, And the two engineers that are gonna be selected are the ones who, who communicate better, the ones who are able to, speak to multiple disciplines. The ones who are able to not only. Be right or wrong, you know, be black and white in their thinking and say, uh, my work speaks for me.

[00:25:40] For example. Uh, it’s, it’s a little bit about politics as well. You’ve got to be able to. Get people to, like, you, get people to want to work with you, motivate others. I say to want to work with you and want to be a part of you. Yes. Yes. Your, your tribe or your, your hive. You know? that is how you build your circle of influence and that’s how you leave a legacy of Yes.

[00:26:02] Of greatness. I 

[00:26:03] Zach White: think. I agree. And at the end of the day, there won’t be an engineer on the planet whose IQ can compete with ai. Yeah. And so at some level to just begin in recognizing your emotional intelligence, your social intelligence, the, the holistic nature of your intelligence is what will create opportunities a decade from now, you know, in a whole new way.

[00:26:26] Even then, we’re already feeling, and I think it’s already, it’s already here. So let’s come back then to a word from a moment ago. It’s been a few moments related. To this fear and how fear blocks us. Boy, and you know, maybe we could address it in this specific thread, but, but maybe even more generally, Ryan, you mentioned how the two things that hold us back are fear and conditioning among others, but these big buckets, so fear, how have you personally encountered fear?

[00:26:55] And overcome it. And what have you learned about fear? The role it plays, how it shows up, how you get past it? What’s, what’s that look like in your story? 

[00:27:06] Ryan Roper: I would say fear comes in quite often just because of, of society. Just because of what you see, of what you hear. I think even our politics is rooted in fair, right?

[00:27:18] So fair is everywhere. it’s important for everyone, anyone Especially engineers, I think to really focus on, being able to recognize the fair and then that they get passed through you but move on. Be clear on what it is that you wanna do. And that’s why I think meditation and taking 15 minutes to date to envision what you want and it comes to you actually, it comes to you in quiet moments 

[00:27:44] But as it comes to you, you, you then recognize what it is you want in life. And just as you can design and build a bridge or a gas platform, for example, you can design and build your life. And once you recognize what it is that you want outta life, you, you run after it and you run after it as though there are zombies behind you.

[00:28:07] And. The fear once it comes in. So in 2009, for example, I was told that I had six months to live, right? And that I think was a changing point for me after that. And then I had to go through a process of, of, solving that issue. And after that I recognize that, wait a sec, I can be fearful and I can go through tough times, but You know what you want, and if it’s the will to live, or if it’s the will to be a vp or if it’s the will to be the best technical engineer you can be. It comes to you and it’s once it’s in here, in your soul, it comes into you. you just go after it and, and face the fear head on.

[00:28:50] Mm. 

[00:28:52] Zach White: Ryan, we, uh, I can’t just gloss over the fact that you said in 2009 you only had six months to live, but I also know we may need a whole nother episode to dig into the rest of your, your story and the wisdom we can pull from it. But really quick, was that situation? maybe tell us bottom line, like how did that change the trajectory of your life?

[00:29:12] Ryan Roper: So, you know, I, before that I was. I was all about I’m rights. You are wrong, and I can prove that you are wrong. And I was very much into that sort of mode of if you wanna get something done right, let’s you gotta do it yourself.

[00:29:26] I was, I was very much into that. Again, going to school, good schools. Mm-hmm. It sort of makes you a bit more individualistic, makes you think that, you’re very bright. You can get it done. It’s all about you, I think. And then that experience really helped me to see that there’s more to it than being right or wrong.

[00:29:46] It’s, it’s more about how do I work with others and through others and engage others and leave a legacy. and, and so what switched for me is instead of thinking about how I’m right versus you are wrong, it’s how can I, I leave this legacy that when people think about Rhino, where they think about somebody who cared about people, who cared about the, the planet, getting us through the transition to net zero projects and project developments, and then.

[00:30:16] That person and Ryan Roper having left a legacy of greatness in people and project 

[00:30:22] Zach White: development. Mm, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. We’ll have to do a round two at some point and maybe hear the whole story, but what a powerful shift and, uh, I am definitely someone who’s gone through a similar transformation of being very much about.

[00:30:37] Me, my career, the things I wanted coming outta college. I’m sure you could ask my old bosses at Whirlpool, they’d probably tell you stories when I was, was a young whipper snapper engineer, hungry for my own success versus now the the hunger for legacy. So, and really quick before we unpack that, cause I wanna understand and share with everyone where you are creating that legacy now.

[00:30:58] But I just wanted to mention, you talked about fear and you made the point that it begins with recognizing. The fear in your life, and we won’t dig into this today. We’ll save it for round two, but I just wanted to add to that. Don’t assume that you. Will recognize fear and its influence in your life. And you know this from being a part of our cohort, you’ll hear at, uh, with lifestyle engineering and the coaching work that we do and all these amazing leaders who are part of, of the Blueprint program.

[00:31:28] But so often fear is pulling the strings in your life. Masked as something else. I’m overwhelmed, I’m stressed, I’m anxious, I’m busy, I’m out of control. I’m uncertain. You know, we have a lot of fancy words, what I call successful people words for I’m afraid, and a lot of times fear is wearing a mask and pulling the strings.

[00:31:52] And so just something I, I mean, would you agree with that? Where it’s like we just take for granted? Oh, I’ll know if I’m afraid, but a lot of times we actually don’t see it for what it 

[00:32:01] Ryan Roper: is. Fully agreed and it it is Masters. Many things Masters Up too short up, too tall, up too, it doesn’t matter. The fair imposter syndrome is huge.

[00:32:11] Now. That’s a huge buzzword now, I agree with you a hundred percent. 

[00:32:16] Zach White: Okay, we’ll leave that there, let people marinate on it. But Ryan, this legacy you are to the point of running after what you desire, like zombies are behind you. You’re doing this in a big way. So tell me about the projects you have going on now and your vision that you’ve created around leaving that legacy.

[00:32:35] Uh, what are you up to? 

[00:32:37] Ryan Roper: what I’m working on right now, to be honest, is my golf game. That’s, it’s a never ending quest, you know? It’s, yes. But, uh, you know, 

[00:32:46] Zach White: and that’s it. We could, we could stop the recording, you know, all of that lead up for Ryan’s golf game. That’s so 

[00:32:52] Ryan Roper: beautiful, man. But today, I, I, I am fortunate enough to be living my dream.

[00:32:57] I think I, I’m working on ventures with and partnerships in the energy space developing feasibility studies for low carbon and alternative energy projects. I’m really adamant that we, we can no longer maintain singular perspectives if we want to transition towards the next.

[00:33:16] Zero landscape and being able to provide for all of our energy needs. And we wanna provide secure, safe, sustainable energy, to everybody. And we’ve got to work together to ideate, design, build, operate facilities that help us meet the world’s energy needs. And, and I work at that, at a project develop development level at a, a larger level.

[00:33:41] But I think individuals and families can also work at that in terms of getting to net zero thinking about the, their environmental impact, their carbon foot. Prints, et cetera. And, um, I also recognize that the energy transition is not gonna happen overnight. We, we’ve got to continue spending on oil and gas projects as well while we build our capability in this sort of hydrogen space.

[00:34:04] We don’t know much about it yet, but we’re gonna get there. There’s a solar, of course there’s wind. and as we the economics and the safety of, of these. These types of projects. we also have to continue with oil and gas and making that as safe as possible and as, as economic as possible, and to meet our energy needs as well.

[00:34:24] So I’m always willing to meet with like-minded individuals, networks, communities, and investment groups, uh, that help us to progress these types of projects around the world. And you can. Reach out to me on LinkedIn, Ryan r Roper on LinkedIn, and comment or just reach out to me for, to have a discussion.

[00:34:42] Zach White: No problem. That’s awesome. We’ll definitely put a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes. And I do encourage any happy engineer out there who’s passionate around this space to get in proximity to incredible leaders like Ryan. Definitely take advantage of that offer. the other thing, Ryan, I just wanna acknowledge you for is, Being a real beacon of hope and light for the negative message that’s shared so often that people who come from the oil and gas industry don’t care about these things.

[00:35:13] And you know that’s not true, but it’s so often that you get this big stamp of, people who have ever worked in oil don’t. Don’t wanna help the environment. And it’s just such the opposite. So many folks like yourself who are deeply passionate about energy in a broader, perspective, are exactly like-minded with you to say, let’s make this transition the best possible for everyone in involved.

[00:35:37] And so I just wanna acknowledge you for that. I think that’s amazing and, uh, cheering for you. So we will have to come back and do another episode and talk about this landscape. What does that transition mean for engineering leaders who wanna be a part of it? For individuals who simply wanna do their part at home, to your comment, I think that’s something we all need help on, and we can dig into that another time.

[00:35:57] But, I’m curious, what’s, what’s the thing you’re most excited about in the short term? I know there’s a long vision involved in the projects you’re developing. These aren’t quick things, but if you just looked at the next one to three years, Ryan, what’s the technology landscape or you know, the energy landscape that excites you the most?

[00:36:16] Ryan Roper: I would say, getting more solar farms and more wind farms around the Caribbean and in the us Oh, there’s a massive, drive towards more solar farms in the United States and Australia, so that’s exciting. To be honest, there are two ex really exciting things in the next, let’s say three to five years that are coming, which include hydrogen, 

[00:36:37] There’s strong potential in hydrogen and, and getting hydrogen facilities to, replace, um, some of the, um, Carbon emission, fossil fuel type plants around the world. And I think also wave technology is, is, is going to be big. Yes. Yes. Uh, once we, we can really get a handle on wave technology, I think that’s going to be a game changer.

[00:36:58] Potentially. 

[00:37:01] Zach White: Really quick before we wrap it up, if, if there’s a young engineer or someone who’s gonna go to engineering school or maybe a parent, you know, somebody who’s a, an engineer, who’s got kids who wanna go into engineering listening to this. And they are excited about these spaces. Which degree paths would you say are still the best way to move into that space?

[00:37:22] Has it changed at all in your mind, or is it same as it was when you were getting into it? Like just, just curious Or you’d say it doesn’t matter any, we need all engineers involved. if somebody was starting out and they wanna be a part of this, transformation, where would they go from a degree path perspective?

[00:37:39] Ryan Roper: quite frankly, you know, I have a three year old daughter and I’m thinking exactly the same thing, right? So I I, I would say that chemical engineering, you can’t go wrong with it, right? Chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, you can is just, we will need that for a long time.

[00:37:55] the, the question to me still is how do you pair that with the practical meaning being able to, Put things together, like actually build a robot, like actually start working on coding younger, at a younger age. Start work working on actually being able to not just see it in theory and, and draw the p and IDs, for example, but actually getting it out there and getting that practical experience of building prototypes and, and being able to, Take part in competitions, for example, that help you to, to innovate and try to help younger kids, especially I think from the age of seven and above, really start thinking about how to cut color outside the lines.

[00:38:39] Mm-hmm. we tend to, place boundaries, especially on, on teenagers especially. And so your mind is, is sort of bounded instead of. Developing that growth mindset from a young age. Yeah. And so how, I think anything that allows you to, to expand your mind in terms of that growth mindset, even psychology for example, I think is a great sort of, degree, along with engineering.

[00:39:05] So how do you pair the engineering, the, the practical? The sort of growth mindset. I think any degree that helps you in that area is, is something that I think would be very useful going 

[00:39:17] Zach White: forward. I love that. I love that. I remember vividly being at Purdue, I think this was my junior year studying, uh, some other mechanics course.

[00:39:28] I forget the, which course it was. We were talking about rotational imbalance. We were doing all these calculations on crankshafts and different, you know, real world examples. But I. Got under the hood of a car one time, and my neighbor, who was a assembly line, Factory worker was ripping the whole car apart and had no problem understanding every single piece and putting it back together again with total confidence.

[00:39:51] And I’m just sitting here watching, like, I don’t have a clue what to do with this, but I could run the math to tell you if that’s gonna be balanced or not. And just that awareness hitting me of like, wow, this, you know, I gotta get out of the, the theory and actually do the work. But, um, amazing. Well, Ryan, thank you.

[00:40:06] For sharing your story and your wisdom. I hate to end it cuz we, we have so much more we could talk about, but it just means we’ll need to get to together for a round two. we told people to connect with you on LinkedIn if they’re passionate in this space. We’ll make sure that’s linked up in the show notes.

[00:40:20] But to end things today, you know this, you’ve experienced this being coached, being a great coach yourself and also as an engineering leader. Great questions lead if we want Great answers, questions, lead answers follow. So if the happy engineer out there listening is looking for better answers in their life and in their career, what would be the question that you would lead them with today?

[00:40:46] Ryan Roper: Are you content? I think that’s, it’s as simple as that. You know, it’s, uh, are you content in your career and your, your family life? I think is it? Yeah, I think that’s it. As simple as that. if somebody were to really absorb that question and think about it at a deeper level, I, I think they can come up with some really good answers that are unique to themselves and, and really hopefully force em or push them towards action.

[00:41:21] Hmm. 

[00:41:22] Zach White: Brilliant. Are you content? Sit with that. Give it room. Go deeper. Ryan, thank you again for just your openness and sharing your wisdom today. This has been tremendous I’m serious. We’ll have to do it again sometime. 

[00:41:35] Ryan Roper: This was my first podcast. I loved it.

[00:41:37] Thank you very much. Cheers, Ryan.