Smith Soc Featured Member
Questions and Answers with Adam Smith Society Members.
Joel Fulford | Rice Jones Chapter
Joel Fulford is a mechanical engineer from Newfoundland, Canada, who is living in Houston while working toward his MBA at Rice University. He has industry experience in the oil & gas, mining, chemicals, power, and infrastructure sectors. Professionally, Joel's experience is spread around the globe in terms of project team management and business development and proposal preparation. He also has large engineering project experience that he has routinely used to close communication gaps between the commercial and technical members of his teams. Currently, Joel works in the Global Sales and Marketing division of his company and helps support and mentor sales campaigns across the globe.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m relatively well traveled, having visited 18 countries for personal and professional reasons. I’m an extrovert who enjoys intellectual debate and learning or experiencing new perspectives on ideas. I’m a community- and relationship-oriented person who relishes the opportunity to meet new people and expand networks. I was a coach for several youth hockey teams and received volunteer of the year and coaching staff of the year awards. I have volunteered for and led United Way Campaigns for my company and enjoyed witnessing the direct and substantial impact that community involvement has on people and their families.
I’m keenly interested in business, and my entrepreneurial spirit has led me to discover new markets, new ways of thinking, and expand my knowledge base. I look forward to continuing with the Adam Smith Society.
What do you see as the most interesting current trend in the energy market?
The digital transformation is the most interesting because no one knows what that will look like, exactly. It’s like asking people during the advent of the Internet what their jobs were going to look like—no one had any idea how much the Internet was going to change the face of business and personal life. The digital transformation—deep learning/AI, robotics and AVs, blockchain, etc.—and the creation of the digital workforce is going to free up people, so that they can connect, create, and solve problems as never before. It’ll be exciting to see all the ways it’s going to redefine jobs and roles within an organization and also in family life. Imagine if 80% of your time was freed up—it scares some people because they think that 80% of their job will disappear, but I don’t think that’s what will happen. People’s responsibilities will change, and with that, they’ll be more satisfied and happy not to be stuck in a mundane work-life or as a cog in a machine that spits out reports. It’s going to be a good thing!
What is the best Smith Soc event you’ve attended?
That’s a tough question because I’ve attended a few events, and all of them have exceeded expectations. By far, the best group events on campus are the Smith Soc events. I was very lucky to join the Blockchain Trek to Palm Springs last year, so I’d say that was the best event I’ve been to, because of the quality of people and the fantastic dialogue we engaged in—people from all over the country who were smart and lots of fun, the kind of people you want to know. And we got to pick the brain of George Gilder, which was very rewarding. I probably learned the most on that trek: it changed the way I viewed blockchain as a technology and has allowed me to engage in better conversation about it and to have an educated perspective. That being said, I’m hoping that the annual meeting in April will top that event. I’m really looking forward to it.
What country surprised you the most?
Another tough one, but I might have to give that award to the Czech Republic just because I had no idea how awesome it really was, so It was a genuine surprise. In fairness, I had thought it was going to be a great place—they do play hockey, after all, and they have a reputation for good beer! But that place also has so much history and culture.