Clara Lippert Glenn is the President and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme, created Princeton Energy Programme in 1992 and PrincetonLive.com in 1999. In 2000, she engineered the merger with The College of Petroleum and Energy Studies, forming The Oxford Princeton Programme, of which she became President and CEO. She has provided the vision and leadership behind The Oxford Princeton Programme’s innovative and successful approach to interactive professional education, building it into the global leading provider of energy education.
The Oxford Princeton Programme provides the most effective and flexible approach to educating professionals worldwide on the business and trading of energy. With customizable programmes for on-site team training, more than 200 public courses in 23 energy hubs globally, and the most extensive library of web-based courses available 24/7 on www.princetonlive.com, The Oxford Princeton Programme is responsible for training a literal who’s who in oil, gas, power and much more. Courses are taught by renowned experts offering dynamic and interactive instruction. With more focus, experience, and depth of industry knowledge, The Oxford Princeton Programme provides today’s professionals with the tools and know-how for optimal performance. For more information, log onto www.oxfordprinceton.com.
MO: How did you come up with the concept for the Princeton Energy Programme?
Clara: I was working with a company that provided one of the premier analysis tools to the oil industry – I was brought on as one of their “oil consultants”, meant to help their software developers and sales team “talk the talk” of their clients. Even before I started with that firm – Saladin – I was a fan of their product. But I quickly learned that one of their stumbling blocks in the market was that their tools were often more advanced than the users! It highlighted a gap – the oil trading market was rapidly evolving, and while the industry participants were some of the best and the brightest in the world, how were they going to keep up with all this ever-evolving information? Oil trading was quickly turning from a simple supply and demand market-place model to a more technically and speculatively-driven market-place. There was a definite lack of forums for advanced energy market education in North America.
MO: Can you expand a bit on how you engineered the merger with The College of Petroleum and Energy Studies and what that entailed?
Clara: We had long admired The College of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Oxford – they offered a unique educational experience in energy, especially with their Oxford Residential programmes. When we were first made aware that they would be interested in a merger, we jumped on the opportunity! After spending some time at their offices, and seeing first hand their remarkable educational products and amazing staff, we knew it would be the perfect fit. And I dare say it has worked out even better than we had ever hoped. The teams have all integrated beautifully, and the product lines compliment each other very well. We are extremely proud that we can offer energy education on so many different levels – a solution that will fit anyone’s budget and time frame.
MO: What were some challenges that you faced when first launching your company? What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?
Clara: Princeton Energy Programme was launched as a ‘company within a company’ – and it stayed that way for nearly 14 years. The biggest challenge was maintaining and growing our own culture while buried inside another organization. I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time playing cheerleader for our brand and our team internally – time frustratingly wasted quite often. I’m afraid I became known as quite a loud Lioness constantly protecting her lair (the product and its brand) and her cubs (my amazing employees).
MO: You have an international reach with The Oxford Princeton Programme. How much do the training requirements vary country from country? How have you been able to modify the programme to meet the need of each and every delegate no matter where they are located?
Clara: Energy is a very global commodity, so we are often asked to not regionalize our products too much! There are times, however, when we do recommend customizing a course to reflect commodity and market maturity in certain sectors, and to spend some time reflecting on current regional trends and regulations.
MO: What are some trends within the energy industry that you’re excited about?
Clara: We are excited about the way emerging markets continue to change the face of energy – in terms of both supply and demand. We’ve also been excited to see the industry fully embrace renewable energy. Both of these continue to change, on almost a daily basis, the ‘map’ of the energy industry.
MO: Why do you think that a positive corporate culture is crucial to the success of a company?
Clara: The trite answer you’re probably expecting is: because we all spend so much of our day working, shouldn’t it be somewhere where we’re happy…. And that’s fine. But really my answer is quite different. Smaller companies can’t always pay the highest salaries, but we want the best and the brightest. So how do you attract them and keep them? Make your business the place they WANT to work. The one they stand behind. The one they are really proud to tell their friends and families about. Sure, we’ve had employees leave us. But I’m most proud of the fact that so many actually end up coming back to us! I am constantly looking for ways to make working for The Oxford Princeton Programme a rewarding and exciting experience – my personal goal is to add two new ‘somethings’ a year that make working here something to brag about.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Clara: Professionally I’m very excited about our launch of the new iPad minis for use as e-manuals. I’m thrilled that we are helping to cut down on paper and energy consumption while offering our delegates a high definition learning experience. Personally, after being widowed for several years, I just remarried a wonderful man – and am very excited to show off all my wonderful employees and faculty to him!
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