Presented by Grant Thornton and Preng & Associates. Photography by Evin Thayer Studios.

Brian Hansen, 39

Principal, Vortus Investments, Fort Worth, Texas

Brian Hansen recounts how, early in his career in 2008, a deal he was pursuing fell apart when the operator decided not to sell. “A few months later, oil prices collapsed from $120/bbl to $40/bbl. We thought back to the $100/bbl pricing we had used in our models and how we all nearly left great jobs to buy it, and felt relieved the deal didn’t go through. If we had bought it and could have held on for four or five years, we would have realized the asset also had great horizontal potential, but no telling if we would have lasted that long.”

Today, Hansen is a principal at Vortus Investments, a private-equity firm focused on lower-to- middle-market deals across the U.S. Vortus earmarks $50 million to $75 million per deal, he says, and sets itself apart from competitors by having an “asset in hand” rule.

Mentor: Hansen counts Scott Sheffield, former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources Co.—where he worked from 2004 to 2014 before Vortus—as a role model. “[Sheffield] has been a big influence on my career. … He always advised against using leverage to drive returns and followed that advice through the renaissance of the Permian, focusing on the reservoir’s economic return instead of its debt capacity.”

Steady: “Low-cost assets provide a great advantage, but you still have to plan and prepare for a commodity price collapse to survive long enough to be around when prices recover.”

Advice for young professionals: “Oil and gas is a big business in a small world. You never know who you’ll run into again, so don’t be exclusive, and build strong relationships early.”

Photography by
Evin Thayer Studios