Abdalla Ali
29

Vice President of Engineering, Wayfinder Resources, Houston
1 FortyUnder40 Ali, Abdalla

Growing up in Egypt and the Middle East, Abdalla Ali witnessed firsthand how energy impacted people’s lives and the global economy, and this exposure led him to study petroleum engineering and to pursue a career in energy. Bringing a thoughtful introspection to his professional life, Ali is motivated by the industry’s ability to benefit the quality of life of individuals across the world.

Ali has helped advise more than 80 private and public upstream and midstream companies, resulting in more than $8 billion in closed transactions throughout U.S. resource plays. He has utilized his technical knowledge to advise C-suite executives, private-equity firms and public firms on strategic alternatives and A&D. In his current role as vice president of engineering for Wayfinder Resources, an upstream nonoperator focused on the Midcontinent, Ali is responsible for a wide variety of strategic responsibilities.

Career milestone

“In December 2017, I resigned from my role at Wells Fargo to help start a new private-equity company backed by Lime Rock Partners, with a business model of investing in upstream oil and gas assets. While I took on the role of vice president of engineering, the start-up culture enabled me to wear multiple hats and take on a multitude of projects, such as helping create business plans and fundraising to granular tasks such as parsing out production data to managing different aspects of HR and other business functions. What has been, and continues to be, an incredible part of this journey are the triumphs and disappointments involved in going through different phases of implementation and outcomes.”

Memorable leadership experience

“I try to strive for creating a positive impact on my circle of influence and continuously expanding that circle. Serving as SPE President at Texas A&M is one of the most memorable experiences to me because it revolved around serving others by way of advancing science and human capital. That was achieved through the execution of over 75 lectures, workshops and conferences in addition to fundraising over $200,000 to facilitate these events and support student scholarships. Our elected team was successful in attracting the best talent and growing the organization from 600 to over 1,000 active members.”

The new generation

“This group witnessed a rapid growth and a rapid decline of the industry, in addition to one of the worst downturns in history at an early age. The current environment/commodity prices forced us to eliminate inefficiencies in order to survive and be economically viable. Young industry members also witnessed firsthand some of the adverse effects of climate change and how that is triggering events around the world. I believe the new generation will continue to add value to humanity while being environmentally conscious.”

“Make an intentional effort to know yourself and what you want, have compassion toward others, be kind and help people get ahead, and consistently work hard toward achieving your goals with integrity, humility and grit. It is easier said than done, but this is usually a recipe for an unstoppable force.”

Mentorship and people

“I have had Sherif Wadood as a mentor for nearly a decade; he is the co-founder of TEXEGY, ex-CEO of PICO, a multinational oil and gas company. Apart from his engagement in the oil industry, he has co-founded a logistics company, energy research firm, renewable energy provider, as well as a Montessori school. He is a serial entrepreneur and has been invaluable to my journey thus far.

“A second mentor I have had since 2011 is Dr. Tom Blasingame; a professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University and 2021 President of SPE. He has dedicated his life to education, developing science and students. Dr. Blasingame treats every student he encounters as a priority, and in his own fashion, he mentors every person he can to exceed their own expectations. I aspire to embody their integrity, diligence, innovation and selfless leadership.

“Additionally, I am indebted to my family, friends, students, professors, managers, colleagues and board members whether they’re back in Cairo, at Texas A&M University, the crew at Wells Fargo Securities or the current team at Wayfinder Resources. There are too many names to mention, but I am so grateful that I have crossed paths with so many incredible personalities.”

Industry outlook

“I believe we need to:

  • Decrease carbon footprint and increase conservation efforts as an industry;
  • Increase transparency to stakeholders, especially capital providers and employees;
  • Continuously evaluate, challenge and revamp the investment thesis; and
  • Increase the utilization of technology to continue to eliminate inefficiencies.”