Strategic Conference Aims to Help Houston Grow

As unsettling estimates of future Houston-area job losses emerge and on the heels of the official announcement that the U.S. is in a recession, top business and education leaders will come together Friday to collaborate on ways to drive the region's $400 billion economy while navigating globalization. University of Houston President Renu Khator will be one of the keynote speakers.

The Houston Strategic Forum "Houston Growing Globally" Conference, to be held at 11 a.m. at the Houston Marriott Westchase, will focus on better harnessing the region's existing strengths in energy, transportation, education, technology and health care.

Khator will share her vision for the university and how it creates a skilled work force and contributes to the region's economy through innovation and industrial partnerships.

"One reason the topic of this conference is dear to me is that the higher education system I represent - the University of Houston System - is one with global reach," Khator said. "It is a system that is preparing our students to be, not just players, but leaders in the global marketplace."

UH annually adds to the work force 8,000 skilled graduates who reflect the city's changing demographics, Khator said, making the region uniquely positioned to meet the global economy's changing needs.

"I think it is obvious that Houston already is, and will increasingly be, a global economic center of influence in the world in the next 10 years and beyond," Khator said. "The University of Houston System and its flagship campus - the University of Houston - are ready, willing and able to partner with Houston to help maintain its status as a thriving international city... a city where men and women from all corners of the world live, work and prosper together."

Lane Sloan, director of UH's Strategic Energy Alliance and a speaker at the conference, said Houston's economic success is contingent upon its ability to develop, retain and attract a technically savvy work force.

 "Houston is on a path to be one of the truly great global cities with its strengths in the world's centerpiece challenges of energy, health and space," said Sloan, former president of Shell Chemical Co.

Other speakers include Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., president and CEO of Marathon Oil; John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Merrill A. "Pete" Miller Jr., chairman, president and CEO of National Oilwell Varco.

The Houston Strategic Forum is a nonprofit, volunteer organization whose mission is to provide an effective and enriching forum where business executives gain practical insights into the development and execution of strategies in large organizations. The Houston Strategic Conference is open to the public, and more information is available at

WHAT: Houston Strategic Conference
WHO: Keynote speakers: Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., president and CEO of Marathon Oil; John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston and chancellor of the UH System; Merrill A. "Pete" Miller Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of National Oilwell Varco

Conference opening remarks: Kim Denney, president of Air Liquide America

Conference take-aways: Lane Sloan, former president of Shell Chemical Co.
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 12, 2008

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Houston Marriott Westchase, 2900 Briarpark Drive, Houston, Texas 77042
COST: Conference fees are $150 for members and $200 for visitors. Early registrants receive a discount of $50. Visit to learn more.