Q&A with Richard Williams, venture executive, Chevron Technology Ventures

1. First, just give us a quick overview of who you work for, what you do, and how long you have been doing it.

I have been a venture executive with Chevron Technology Ventures, the US-based energy company’s corporate venture capital (CVC) group, since 2015. From 2001 to 2005, I managed Unocal Capital, [petroleum explorer] Unocal’s corporate venturing arm.

2. What attracted you to CVC? 

My university and professional training has been focused on finance (University of Chicago MBA, Chartered Financial Analyst) because it is a universal skill for making good business decisions. My passion from a young age has been technology and innovation. Corporate venture capital combines my finance background with my interest in innovation in a fast-paced technology ecosystem where I interact with brilliant, vibrant entrepreneurs with the potential to have a meaningful impact in the energy industry.

3. What have been your greatest successes at your unit? 

The accomplishment I am most proud of is an investment I made in 2018.  The investment was made in a short period of time with an invigorating process running both a trial and the investment assessment in parallel. We are happy both with the investment and the strategic value the technology is contributing to the enterprise. I am also pleased to have partnered within Chevron and the Houston innovation ecosystem to establish a digital makerspace at The Cannon’s main campus in west Houston.  The space will allow us to demonstrate and test digital workflows and other technologies in collaboration with partners before implementing them within Chevron.

4. What have been your biggest challenges? 

As a non-engineer, there are points at which I need to develop a deeper understanding of technical material by reaching out to subject-matter experts; fortunately, Chevron Technology Ventures has many.

5. What is your main professional ambition for the future? 

I will continue building my internal and external network to attract and support the best, most innovative companies to help the enterprise and to drive innovation.

6. What do you think all CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry?

I believe there may be opportunities to improve the communication of corporate needs to entrepreneurs and so improve the velocity and quality of deal flow.

7. And, finally, for colour, what did you do prior to CVC or in your spare time?

Prior to joining the energy industry, I was an avid pilot, earning commercial, instrument and multi-engine pilot ratings. I opted for a career in business, satisfying my aviation interests with a management consulting position in Singapore where I authored reports on aviation technology, and a subsequent position in American Airlines’ technology subsidiary, which is now publicly traded as Sabre Corp. I continue to actively monitor the unmanned aircraft systems landscape for potential investments.