Skip To Main Content
Man in dark blue blazer and white shirt and dark wash jeans standing in front of group of students in a classroom.

Students in the Zachry Leadership Program in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering engage with a wide variety of extraordinary leaders from industry, academia and government who have made positive impacts on the world. Through these engagements, the students learn more their own possibilities and opportunities to influence others for the better, regardless of the career they pursue. Seniors in the program recently had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton.

Sitton, Class of ’97 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M, started PinnacleART with his wife Jennifer in 2006. The engineering and technology company focuses on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, petrochemical, mining, pharmaceutical and wastewater industries. As a project that Sitton started from the ground up, the company now employs more than 700 people across four continents. He told the students his goal is to find ways to impact the world around him, which can be difficult because making an impact involves taking risks and being creative.

Outside of owning his own business, Sitton also serves as the Texas Railroad Commissioner, a position he has held since 2014. The Railroad Commission is the energy regulator for the state, and Sitton is the first engineer to serve as railroad commissioner in 50 years.

One element students asked him to discuss was communication.

“As a society we are getting worse at communication,” Sitton said. “People think it is about being a good speaker, it is about articulating your ideas well. That is not what communication is, that’s why we have the term public speaker. Communication is about connection. Connection is not about my ability to talk, it’s about my ability to hear.”

He encouraged students from the Zachry Leadership Program to take the knowledge they acquire while at Texas A&M and in the Zachry Leadership Program with them and turn it into skills that will help them become leaders in whatever path they choose moving forward.

The Zachry Leadership Program is currently accepting applications for its next cohort. To qualify, students must be enrolled in the College of Engineering and not be planning to graduate before May 2021. Accepted students will attend leadership retreats, enroll in exclusive classes designed to expand their leadership capabilities, earn a certificate in Holistic Leadership and receive a scholarship each semester.