Texas Enterprise Speaker Series: Risk: Analyzing and Addressing the Unavoidable, with Britt Freund, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, McCombs Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management, and Michelle Foss, Chief Energy Economist, UT Bureau of Economic Geology

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Friday, May 5, 2017 – 11:30AM1:00PM

AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center, Room 202 1900 University Avenue Austin, TX 78705

$25, includes lunch.

Available at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center garage and surrounding public lots.

Risk is inherent to any business, but not all types of risk are fully understood and they can be very difficult to properly quantify and manage. Furthermore, some industries are inherently more risky than others. The question becomes: How can you make a rational economic decision when you don’t fully understand the nature of the risks you face or have all of the tools necessary to quantify, analyze and address them?

In this talk by McCombs’ Distinguished Senior Lecturer Britt Freund and UT Bureau of Economic Geology’s Chief Energy Economist Michelle Foss, we’ll explore the nature of risk analysis and discuss strategies for effectively addressing certain types of risk, using the oil and gas industry as an example.


  • How do people make difficult decisions when risks are unknown?
  • Can you always make a rational economic decision if you properly consider all of the risks?
  • What biases affect decision analysis?
  • How does a corporation’s culture affect how people make decisions?
  • When analyzing information, what is the threshold of evidence necessary to make a decision or override a previous one?
  • Can you afford to protect against tail risk and at what level?

Michelle Foss is chief energy economist and head of the Center for Energy Economics at the Bureau of Economic Geology—the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences. She has over thirty years of experience in energy and environmental research and consulting (oil and gas, coal, non-fuel minerals, electric power) in the U.S. and abroad. Foss’s broad-based experience includes applied energy economics and business development, enterprise strategy and commercial operations, and business-government relationships across the energy value chains.

Foss has developed numerous executive/senior management planning, scenario-building briefings on global energy issues and trends. At the Bureau of Economic Geology, she oversees project and grant administration, including federal, state, and corporate funding.

R. Britt Freund (pronounced “friend”) is a distinguished senior lecturer, consultant and executive trainer in project management, operations strategy, distribution, supply chain management, inventory control, optimization, process analysis, practical statistics and risk management. His primary research, teaching, and consulting interests for the past several years have been in the realm of project management, particularly the management of risk within large capital projects.

Freund is assistant dean and director of the Project Management Consortium at the McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin. He is also the former graduate business dean and director of the Full-Time, Evening and Professional MBA programs at the school. He has also taught extensively in executive and professional MBA programs in SE Asia, Europe, Dallas, Fort-Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

Since 2005, he has been the faculty director for the Shell Project Academy (SPA) which is a consortium of four partner universities working with Royal Dutch Shell to develop and deliver project management tools for use in large capital projects. This has subsequently led to the formation of the Project Management Consortium within the university, of which Freund is the director and founding faculty member.

Freund has traveled extensively around the world, presenting workshops on project and risk management to Shell project managers numerous times throughout the world. During this time, he has also been heavily involved as a consultant to the Project Director for a massive, multi-billion dollar capital project for Shell in Northern Alberta.

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Texas Enterprise
Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business