Alumni Services

Ivan Sandrea

By completing a masters thesis focused on energy, followed by an MBA, Ivan Sandrea gained vital technical and leadership skills that have helped him on his journey to co-founding an oil and gas company.


Ivan Rafael Sandrea Silva


MRes in the Natural Environment and MBA

Year of Graduation 2000 and 2001

Your time at the University  

Ivan Sandrea

I always wanted to do a technical degree followed by a business degree. Given how much I liked Edinburgh and the quality of the program, I decided to apply for the MRes in The Natural Environment. I was convinced by the quality versus cost, the fact it lasted one year and that I was able to do a thesis focused on energy.

The MBA gave me more tools and as a result I was able to work in non-technical areas in industry after graduation. It helped me with my leadership skills and provided a sound basis to explore new opportunities.

I spent two years at the University in total and it was simply a remarkable experience. The beauty of the city, the history of the place, and the warmth of the people made it a great place. The education, courses and style was exactly what I wanted.

I have several memories from climbing an icy Munro with the wrong equipment, kayaking at Finsbury camp, and dancing in a kilt to the song of angels, to eating the great fish and chips. I travelled all over Scotland in a Mini and found the roads both exciting and dangerous!  

I realized early that I was better at the cross point of technical and commercial and decided to take that journey after my studies at Edinburgh.

Ivan Sandrea

Your experiences since leaving the University

I became an international professional after my first job with BP, but in particular after the studies at Edinburgh. I realized early that I was better at the cross point of technical and commercial and decided to take that journey after my studies at Edinburgh.

Banking was my first job in the UK and I chose that due to the strong link of industry between finance and technical. I simply wanted to learn more and at the same time I gave a lot due to my technical background.

In that job I met leaders and found the political aspect to be interesting and applied to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which is like the central bank of the oil industry.  It was difficult as it’s an international organisation; I needed support from the countries to enter there and after one year I was given the opportunity. I took a salary cut and moved to Vienna with the family. This experienced gave me new skills and perspectives.

After a few years I was one of the few people in the world who came from the private sector and worked in an oil company banking and OPEC. Halfway through my contract I was offered a strategy role at Statoil, a leading player, working for my first boss in banking. I took the role and helped the company shape its strategy. Along the way I became involved in academia think tanks and entrepreneurial activities - very enriching and my background was helpful again.

In 2013 I saw an opportunity coming with the opening up of Mexico, one of the last remaining markets for the oil industry, and got a group together of Mexican and international talent to start Sierra Oil and Gas.  Before that I worked and did three jobs! I am now here in Mexico and we are building a company that has strong reputation, capabilities and passion. In Mexico I got involved in academia as well and in my company I promote advanced studies among junior staff - hopefully one will go to Edinburgh!

I am now reconnecting with the University again. I see with great interest the potential for Mexican students to go there as unique. Mexico needs diversification in education from US universities.  Also Mexico is a green country and both places share that interest. I like to see and help create more activity here long term.

Alumni wisdom

Take risk, work hard, and never forget where you came from, including the place you studied. I would say that for all of us who must live the life of a foreigner around the world, take care of the reputation and share all you can so others can improve. 

Related links

The Edinburgh MBA

Sierra Oil and Gas (external site)