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John Fossum never gave much thought to oil and gas in his earlier years. After graduating from Rice University, he fell in love with the “dynamic and ever-changing” nature of the energy industry and loves serving as a mentor to other young professionals and recent college graduates.
“There is always something new to learn as operators test new drilling and completion designs, basins are rediscovered, infrastructure constraints change, etc.,” Fossum said. “It’s impossible to keep on top of everything going on. I enjoy the human element of oil and gas too. There are a lot of bright and entrepreneurial people pursuing so many different ideas. Almost everyone I’ve come across is very generous with their time and happy to talk about what they are seeing and what they are working on.”
After growing up in Lafayette, Calif., and finishing college, Fossum moved to Denver to serve as managing director with Petrie Partners LLC, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
An unexpected beginning
“I grew up in Northern California where oil and gas were not top of my mind. However, while attending Rice University as an undergrad, most of the jobs I interviewed for touched the energy industry in some way. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go into energy investment banking with Petrie Parkman & Co. coming out of college. Once I was in the industry, I fell in love with it and have never looked back.
As a society, we sometimes lose sight that energy touches every aspect of our lives from the obvious gasoline for transportation to the less obvious plastics and polymers that are interwoven into almost every facet of our daily lives. It’s a dynamic and ever-changing industry as witnessed by the acceleration over the last 18 months as many U.S. operators have accelerated the transition into a cash flow generating, lower growth business model. I am optimistic the industry will continue to evolve and meet future challenges.”
Learning from mentors
“Early in my career, I had a number of mentors including Andy Rapp, Chris Ortega and Carl Luna. As I sat in different seats early in my career, all of these people invested significant time in my development and helped foster my intellectual curiosity for our industry.
Over the last several years, working closely with Petrie’s CEO, Jon Hughes, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the advisory business from a senior perspective. He has imparted to me the never-ending focus on providing clients with exceptional service while holding yourself and your team to the highest standards of ethical conduct and work product quality while also making time to have fun as a team along the way.”
Important roles to play
“It appears the rate of change of technology both in energy and outside of energy is increasing. From my experience, younger members of the oil and gas industry are probably best positioned to lead the charge on technology adoption and innovation as well as on the energy transition.
As an industry, we need to get away from the false alternative of oil and gas versus alternative energy/energy transition. Total global energy consumption is going to continue to increase and will require both hydrocarbon and renewables to meet that demand. Oil and gas will have an important part to play in meeting the ongoing energy needs of the world for decades to come. While at the same time, we should be applying resources toward developing any viable renewable energy sources. We need to continue the trend of being good stewards of the environment and being leaders in reducing emissions, which for some operators is already a very positive story.”
Inspiring young minds
“Every year we hire several analysts directly out of college, so over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with and mentoring quite a few recent college graduates joining our industry. It’s a fast-paced job, and oftentimes analysts are thrust into situations for which their four years of college did not prepare them. I spend a lot of time working with our analysts and helping them understand our industry and how to provide great client service. I am always proud when, nine to 12 months into their careers, I can see the light bulb go off and they really start to understand the industry and the work we are doing.
Lots and lots of reps and being exposed to a variety of different people and situations. Banking is an industry where getting reps is important. I’ve also found it’s worthwhile to observe others and see what works and doesn’t work in various situations. Learning from other people’s successes—and more importantly, their mistakes—is a cheap, low-risk way to accelerate your own knowledge base. Most people in our industry are happy to share their experiences and learnings. Engage with the people around you, especially the executives and board members you interact with, as there is much to be learned from their extensive careers and cumulative life experience.
The energy industry is cyclical and has its ups and downs. Be prepared for volatility, but within that volatility there will be opportunity. We are in a period where cycle times are shorter, so things are changing quickly. Be on the lookout for opportunities in this fast-changing market.”
Three More Things
- I am making an effort to visit all 50 states and am currently only five short of my goal (Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia).
- My daughter, Mackenzie, and I build Legos on the weekend. We are currently building a 1967 Ford Mustang GT.
- I love wine. If you are ever looking for someone to open a bottle with in Denver, I can usually make myself available.