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Peter Jeffe, 32

Co-Founder and Head of Business Development, Hawkwood Energy LLC, Denver

Part of the founding group of Hawkwood, which has raised $500MM from lead investors Warburg Pincus and Ontario Teachers since its 2012 inception. Leads strategy, planning, A&D and land. Worked with team to direct strategy shift from higher-risk to medium-risk projects, which with A&D work, led to Hawkwood’s acquisition of core assets in East Texas.

Peter Jeffe headshot
On undergrad and grad schools:
Played Division I golf at Lafayette, then joined Goldman Sachs in 2005. “I had a great job at Goldman. This was in 2007 when finance was booming, we were doing cutting-edge derivatives. But Stanford was my dream school—it was focused on entrepreneurialism.”

The best of both worlds: Long-term goal was to build and run a company. “But I struggled with typical start-ups that are focused on tech ideas. I like tangible businesses where you produce things, have real assets. When I learned more about the private-equity-funded, oil and gas model, I thought, ‘This is the best of both worlds.’”

On Warburg Pincus as PE partner: John Holland, a good friend from Stanford, had joined its E&P group. “We were catching up one day and he said, ‘You still working on this energy idea? We’re looking for more teams.’ He was a tremendous help; he sits on our board now.”

Hawkwood’s assets: The East Texas Eagle Ford and Woodbine plays near Halcon Resources. “In early 2014, we bought a couple of large deals—one from Crimson Energy [Partners III] and, the other, from Encana. The deals were totally separate, yet we signed the two PSAs within 48 hours of each other. “Overnight, we went from no assets to about 2,000 barrels a day and 50,000 acres. For a small organization, the transition was formidable.”

On teamwork: “One of the most rewarding aspects of oil and gas is how interdependent the work is. I’m humbled by working with such a talented and cohesive group.”

Deal-making and decision-making: Thinks of what Pat Oenbring [Hawkwood’s CEO] would do: “I spend as much time in Pat’s office as possible; when I’m in there, I’m learning. He approaches everything with a solution-oriented mindset. He thinks through all of the options first, with a particular emphasis on creative solutions. He seeks input from others. And then he makes crisp, practical decisions.”

Business motto: “I’ve heard Leonard Gurule [Hawkwood’s CEO] say, regarding important decisions, ‘Measure twice and cut once.’ I’m a big subscriber to it.”

Lessons in persistence: Growing up, played hours of basketball with his father, an executive. “If he got ahead, he would ease up to make sure I learned to compete to the very end. As I got older, he also taught me defeat. But, by then, the mentality of ‘never give up’ was engrained, so I would just keep demanding a rematch. By middle school, the matches got so long we had to install flood lights.”

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With appreciation to Grant Thornton for their support