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

Zach Lee, 39

CEO, ARM Energy Holdings LLC, Houston

Zach Lee, CEO of ARM Energy Holdings LLC (ARM), believes in building a culture that “provides people with the autonomy to make decisions as if it is their own business.” This philosophy is core to the success of ARM, which provides E&P and midstream companies with financial hedging, physical marketing and midstream solutions.

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Lee gives young employees all the autonomy they can handle, explaining that this was the formula that led to his success. “My own mentors allowed me to succeed—and fail a few times, too—at an early age, because they knew it was the best way to learn. Once I was running a business, that became my approach. We hire very smart people and then encourage them to take an entrepreneurial approach.”

Growth: Co-founding ARM is Lee’s proudest professional accomplishment. He describes the growth of the original hedging advisory business from just one client to what is currently the largest hedging advisory firm in North America, serving more than 130 clients.

He further described the physical marketing business as one of the top 20 gas marketers in the U.S. The “wildly successful” Kingfisher Midstream crude and gas gathering and processing system, which is operated and partially owned by ARM, has made a considerable impact in the Stack play in Oklahoma. In August, Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II announced it had entered into definitive agreements to merge with Alta Mesa Holdings LP and Kingfisher Midstream LLC (KFM) in a combined venture valued at about $3.8 billion.

Building upon the success of KFM, Lee is excited about ARM’s midstream Delaware Basin platform known as Salt Creek Midstream LLC and cites certain similarities to downstream strategic analysis that he expects to add long-term value to the company and its partners.

Career path: Lee founded ARM, originally called Asset Risk Management, in 2004 in his mid-20s. At an age when most people are still trying to get a foothold on the lower rungs of corporate ladders, he already had fast-tracked his way through trading and related positions at two big players in the energy industry, Duke Energy Trading & Marketing LLC and Entergy-Koch Trading LP.

On industry: “This business is constantly changing. In 2008, we were going to import LNG; now we’re exporting LNG. The energy business continues to be correlated to the global market, which means we, as traders, have to understand the global fundamentals. Exporting NGL, oil and LPG is a game-changer.”

Photography by
Evin Thayer Studios