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REGI: A Strategic Review With the New President and CEO, Cynthia J. Warner


The alphaDIRECT Insight

This alphaDIRECT Management Series focuses on REG and its recent management change with the new President and Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia J. Warner, and her top priorities, including a review of its business, expansion plans and growth strategy. During the last 20 years REG has built a leading growth platform in the biodiesel industry, with significant opportunity ahead of it, in our view. Navigating this market with complex supply chains and distribution networks, not to mention a fluid regulatory environment, demands vision and quick actions by leadership. We believe REG is well-positioned to benefit from the carbon reduction mega-trend that is in place around the world and in this Management Series we learn what the priorities and strategies will be with the new CEO.

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Shawn Severson: Thank you, CJ, for taking the time to speak with us today. The last time that we spoke with Renewable Energy Group we discussed the next generation biofuel platforms and your technology road map. Today our focus will be on your role as the new Chief Executive Officer of Renewable Energy Group. Can you start by introducing yourself and give us some background?

Cynthia J. Warner: Sure, and thanks, Shawn. I should start by saying that I’m absolutely thrilled to be leading the team here at Renewable Energy Group. I am a lifelong “energy person”. I’ve spent my career in operations, innovation and strategy all within the energy sector and I focused both on traditional petroleum- based fuel as well as renewable liquid transportation fuel for almost 40 years. Through doing that, I have developed a real passion for the energy field and industry. I love working through all the challenges, the technology and the innovation required to deliver what’s needed from the energy industry, which is so significant to society.

Shawn Severson: Thanks, CJ. Can you walk us through your background and previous experience in the field specifically?

Cynthia J. Warner: Absolutely, Shawn. So, my experience in energy goes all the way back to when I was a summer intern at Amoco Research Center 40 years ago. Since that day, I never looked back because I really loved the industry. I’ve focused on both conventional and cutting-edge energy development and production and my career has taken me to work in over 30 different refineries in five different continents. I also led an energy startup, so it’s been quite an adventure.

I have a background in chemical engineering with a degree from Vanderbilt University. Throughout my career I was really interested in delivering high quality and reliable energy, but I wanted to do it by making it cleaner and applying innovation to find more sustainable ways to deliver energy. This led me to actually leave the corner office role I had at BP in London at the time.

I was trying to bring more sustainable and cleaner technology to BP and we were making some good headway, but I learned about Sapphire Energy and decided to go and  fully devote myself to developing a brand-new form of energy. At Sapphire in San Diego we were developing a source of crude oil from algae that was entirely sustainable and very, very low carbon.

More recently, I was working at Andeavor, which is the largest independent integrated refiner west of the Mississippi or, was before it merged with Marathon Petroleum recently. I was the Executive Vice President of Strategy when I first got there, helping them with sustainability and renewables among other things,  and then ultimately became EVP of Operations.

Now I’m here at Renewable Energy Group, which is such a natural extension of my career. What I find here is great teamwork, a real passion for what we’re doing, lots of innovation; and we’re growing this low carbon, clean technology to deliver high quality, sustainable fuels that I talked about earlier – and doing it at scale.