Travis Hancock

Co-Founder and Partner, Octagon Energy Partners; CFO, EnerVest, Ltd., Houston
Hancock, Travis

After working on a congressional campaign, Travis Hancock moved to Washington, D.C., where he learned he didn’t want to be a lobbyist, but might want to work in energy finance. Now in private equity, the Sugar Land, Texas native finds himself drawn back to politics, but on a more limited basis. “When given the opportunity, I enjoy talking with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, explaining the oil and gas sector, and how equity and debt capital flows are impacting the business,” he says. “It is nice to be an advocate for the U.S. energy sector and help policy makers understand that we need all forms of energy—traditional and renewable.”

Which career milestone did you reach sooner than you had planned, and what helped you reach it earlier than expected?
“Co-founding a new energy focused private equity firm is an exciting challenge. This is not necessarily something that I had ever planned to do. It is more of an opportunity that I am fortunate to pursue, even in a tough market. Having this opportunity has a lot to do with investor trust, which only comes from the right experiences.”

Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“Partnering with TPG to turn their Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) into Magnolia Oil & Gas in 2018 is one of the most interesting deals I have completed in my career, thus far. It was a tough eight months from the start of the negotiations to MGY trading publicly. Both teams at EnerVest and MGY have done an excellent job over the past five years with that business, and it is a privilege to have seen MGY’s success from the beginning.”

What has been your most challenging project to date?
“Many firms in energy private equity had a tough time during 2016 and 2017, including EnerVest. When starting as EnerVest’s CFO in the fall of 2020, one of its private equity funds was still being restructured out of court. It was a challenge to conclude that process after such a long period of time, but I am proud to have brought a new, pragmatic view to the situation that helped our team close that chapter of the firm’s history.”

What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“Being able to build relationships is key. I believe the oil and gas sector is one of the last sectors in the U.S. where relationships can make a big difference in the growth trajectory of a firm.”

What advice would you give other young professionals?
“Don’t leave. The U.S. energy sector is changing. It will take some time for the dust to settle, but keep an open mind about both traditional and renewable energy. Also, ask a lot of questions.”

What do you think young industry members as a group have to offer that is unique to them?
“Continuity. Whether those in the sector agree or not, attracting talent is going to be tough. I am optimistic that this will change over time. We need those in the sector today to stick around, keep innovating and be the foundation for providing energy to the U.S. and world.”

Which transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“I believe many people in the sector are still reluctant to recognize that traditional and renewable energies need to coexist. I think being perceived as ‘traditional only’ or ‘renewable only’ will hurt team member recruitment and retention over the long term.”

Three More Things
  1. I am a first-generation college graduate.
  2. I was briefly detained in the Moscow airport while returning from our honeymoon.
  3. One item toward the top of my bucket list is to visit all seven continents before and after I turn 70.