Zach Rider

Vice President, Commercial and Corporate Development, Tallgrass, Kansas City

Zach Rider ended up in the oil and gas industry by accident—he knew he wanted to do a career transition into corporate and financial analytics after finishing business school, and he was lucky enough to land in the energy space. Drinking from the proverbial fire hose to learn the new industry he found himself in, Rider’s constant pursuit to develop new and better skills prepared him to take over the corporate development group at Tallgrass.

Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?

“An achievement I’d point out is the first deal that I truly led, which was the development of a new pipeline. This was the first opportunity for me to take all that I had learned over the previous few years and put my own stamp on a project. My mentor at Tallgrass taught me early on that there will always be a reason not to do a deal, but it’s our job to find a way to get a deal done. That mantra was important for me to embody when developing this project. We had to get creative and find new solutions for how we structured all of the deal components, but in the end, we were able to find a way to get the deal done.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.  

“Prior to starting in the energy space, I was a U.S. Army officer. My last assignment was a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2010 to 2011. My role was a battalion assistant plans officer, and I ended up heading to Baghdad two months before the rest of my battalion to plan and prepare for the full team’s arrival. To expedite our preparation, I was sent early with the broad mandate of ‘figure out what we need to do and how we are going to do it.’ It was a crazy couple of months, but it helped me develop skills that have been incredibly useful throughout the rest of my career.”

What qualities do you think are necessary for a good leader in the oil and gas industry?

“The oil and gas industry is dynamic and constantly changing. To be an effective leader in this space, you have to be nimble while also having a clear direction for where you want to go. You need to set a clear destination for where you want the company to be in three, five, 10 years. How you get there, however, doesn’t need to be set in stone.”

What has helped you develop your leadership abilities during your career?

“When I started at Tallgrass, I was raw with a lot of potential but no real business knowledge or experience. Luckily I had a few great leaders take me under their wing and help me learn the ropes. One of those leaders is our current CEO, Matt Sheehy. He and I synced up very quickly after I started at Tallgrass, and our styles fit well together. His mentorship acted like Miracle Grow on my professional development, and he taught me how to take all of those theories you learn in business school and apply them in real life.”

What are your long- and short-term career goals? 

“My near-term goal is to establish Tallgrass as a key player in the energy transition. The energy space is in the early stages of a multigenerational transformation, and what we do now will have a lasting impact on how energy is produced, transported and consumed for the next 50-plus years. Right now my focus is to help make that happen. Long term, I’d love to start up my own shop, but for that, we will just have to wait and see.”

What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?  

“Ask questions and never stop learning.  No matter how much you know and how good you think you are at your job or a particular skill, you can always learn more and get better.”

Three More Things
  1. I was a European history major in college.
  2. I love coaching my boys’ sports teams. It’s such a fun combo of spending quality time with my kids, teaching about hard work and dedication and listening to the hilarious stories that kids tell each other when they don’t realize grownups can hear.
  3. I love to travel with my family. We took a hiatus for a few years when the kids were young and then COVID, but we are trying to make up for lost time.