Zach Davis doesn’t mind taking the road less traveled. Starting his career at New York City banks, he worked on financing for wind and solar projects (even climbing a wind turbine or two) before landing at Credit Suisse. There, he was assigned the Cheniere account, which was “one of the biggest (and at the time farfetched) project financings ever at the onset of the LNG export story,” he says. Two years later, he turned down a job at a large energy company to take a chance on joining Cheniere “and move from New York with my wife without knowing anybody in or anything about Houston.” For the father of eventually three Texan daughters, it was one of the best decisions ever.
Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“All the hypothetical downside cases came to bear at the same time in 2020 (no margins to be made, customers not needing LNG, pandemic slowing down construction and operations, hurricanes, and financial markets effectively shut down for a period of time). Through that time, I led our efforts to pull off one of the first energy bonds of $2 billion, as well as raise a highly strategic bank deal at our parent company that really solidified Cheniere’s financial footing for the future.”
What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“Must appreciate that volatility is a constant in the energy markets so one must never expect things to ever remain as good or as bad as they may seem at any given time. One should expect the inevitable ups and downs and have the stomach for it!”
Who are your mentors?
“My parents were not just always supportive, but instilled in me a work ethic and desire to do well academically at a very young age that helped me progress through school and the early years of my career. Then from Tom Emmons and Gerry Di Popolo at HSH Nordbank to Ted Brandt at Marathon Capital to Jamie Welch at CS to Michael Wortley (previous Cheniere CFO) and Jack Fusco (Cheniere’s CEO) … I’m likely not in this position today without these folks and a host of others encouraging or pushing me along the way.”
What professional and/or personal advice would you give other young professionals in the industry and/or in your sector?
“Pace yourself; nothing happens overnight. It was a long and winding journey to get to today for me in my career but now it feels like it went by in a flash. Your career will last decades and nobody ends up defined by their first or second job experience right out of school. No need to peak too soon!”
What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“The scale and impact we can make is sometimes mind boggling. One LNG cargo can provide enough energy for at least 2 million people for a month. Cheniere alone exports approximately two cargoes a day. I also loved that what we work on can turn into something as tangible and important as these large export terminals.”
- By the time of this publication, my wife and I will have 3 little Texan daughters aged 8, 6 and a couple months. Being from the Northeast, neither my wife nor I thought our future would be in Houston but it has been an amazing place to live and raise our family.
- Only a couple weeks after starting at Credit Suisse, I was by chance staffed on Cheniere at a time in 2011 when no one else wanted to touch it as it seemed destined to not work out. After a few first-of-kind LNG contracts and some CS-led equity deals later, Cheniere was off and running and I was asked in late 2013 to leave banking and join Cheniere full time.
- When I was told I was going to be promoted to CFO, I was also informed that I had to start the morning of our Q2 earnings call in August 2020.