Daniel Lopus

Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Divestitures, Hilcorp Energy Co., Houston
Lopus, Daniel

While at ConocoPhillips, Daniel Lopus taught an Excel modeling course for three years. One of his students in Qatar struggled with one particular exercise, even after one-on-one tutoring. “And then, on the third day, an hour into class, she just got it!” he says. “Seeing that sparkle in her eye, and being a small part of that … I’ll never forget that feeling.”

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“My journey to enter oil and gas began with my father’s legacy. While he encouraged me to explore other interests and opportunities, seeing what the industry meant to him and my family had a significant impact on me. My calling became clearer during my first internship with Newfield Exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Flying in on a helicopter, the sight of a bustling drilling rig dwarfing the production platform was breathtaking. The marvel of drilling miles under the ocean floor, with a dedicated army of brilliant minds and relentless workers, sparked a passion in me. Realizing I could have the opportunity to lead such engineering feats, coupled with the prospect of working internationally, was an irresistible combination for my younger self.”

Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“Earning a spot as a drilling engineer on a semi-submersible in Western Australia right before my 25th birthday is an achievement I’ll never forget. I worked hard for two years to make it happen, often doing work co-workers weren’t willing to do. [Originally], I had been told I didn’t receive the job, finishing second to another candidate who had eight years more experience. I went home to visit my family in Pittsburgh and watch the Steelers in the Super Bowl.  Thirty minutes before the game started, I received the call from my boss, saying, ‘something’s fallen through with the other candidate, how soon could you board a plane to Australia?’ I was elated!  Celebrating two victories that night on the south side of Pittsburgh was unforgettable!”

What has been your most challenging project to date?
“The difficult task of acquiring a major company’s Alaska assets stands out. While I wasn’t leading the deal, I led the creation of the reserve report. This challenge saw me relying heavily on three invaluable teammates: Keith Elliot, expert oil and gas finder; Christine Stewart, a true data wizard; and Matt Scholin, our in-house financial expert. The fruit of our collective labor? An audited database with a value greater than what we needed for conventional financing.” 

What are your long- and short-term career goals?
“When applying for my MBA at Rice, I established a goal of becoming a senior executive of an independent energy company. At the time, I couldn’t imagine working at a place like Hilcorp. I feel truly blessed to be asked to be a leader of such a great company. Now, my personal career goals are aligned with our mission, vision and values at Hilcorp.  I look forward to growing my relationships with our industry partners and working on mutually beneficial transactions.”

What advice would you give other young professionals?
“There are two areas I’m consistently asked for advice on by young professionals: Is an MBA worth it? Absolutely.  There are endless ways it can be extremely valuable professionally, personally, and socially. Considering a role in investment banking as a technical professional? It can be rewarding. Be aware of two things: First, it’s hard work and long hours—have an aligned support system in place. Second, the leadership track in IB prioritizes client origination and seniority, not technical skills.”

Three More Things
  1. Before starting my full-time career with ConocoPhillips, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer in a hospital in Guatemala for a year. The experience had a profound impact on me.
  2. Having lived on 4 different continents, I love to travel and learn from people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. 
  3. I’m happy to now spend a portion of my time working in the stunning state of Alaska. The opportunities both below and above ground are truly world-class.