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Before beginning his tenure at Fortuna Resources, Travis Pace cut his teeth in a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors that provide valuable experience in life and business. Although he lacked the resources normally required to build a business from the bottom up, he had a passionate drive and inventiveness that eventually led him to his present business. Now CEO of his company, he’s grateful for the character-building lessons he learned during that time.
“Being able to leverage the experiences and lessons learned from a pretty non-traditional background into a leadership role in the oil and gas industry is something I am proud of,” Pace said. “Before Fortuna, the majority of my career was dedicated to numerous ‘bootstrapped’ entrepreneurial ventures in the energy space, and I never had any of the resources generally necessary to build a business. That forced me to be resourceful and find ways to move the ball forward however I could—lessons I use every day at Fortuna.”
Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Pace now lives in Houston with his wife, Rita, and their children, Sofia and Thomas, as he serves as CEO of TNM Resources LLC and Fortuna Resources III LLC.
Change of plans
“My dad loved the industry and always told larger than life stories about it. After I graduated college, I backpacked around New Zealand for a year to avoid having to decide what to do. When I came home, I was planning to pursue an academic career, and while waiting to start graduate school, I’d ride around with my dad to buy oil and gas leases. I realized what a great industry it is, so I abandoned all other plans and the rest is history."
“I always wanted to work internationally, but the problem was I didn’t want to work for a big company. In my late 20’s, I was very fortunate to find two mentors who had led successful careers as energy and finance executives, and we formed an advisory practice together and traveled all over the world providing commercial and financial advice on large-scale natural gas infrastructure projects. We had a great partnership – they made me do all the work, but taught me everything they knew about doing really big deals in the energy space. I definitely could not have done that at that age without their mentorship and guidance.
When I worked internationally, my regular travel route was from Guatemala City (where I was living at the time), to Tel Aviv, to Istanbul, then back through Houston before home to Guatemala. I learned quickly that the business attire in Tel Aviv was jeans and t-shirts, in Istanbul it was formal suit and tie, and in Houston, it really depended on the time of year. I got pretty good at packing a suitcase to accommodate so many different dress codes!"
“I’ve really had some great mentors, and have never hesitated to reach out to ask dumb questions. I like learning from people who have failed and recovered, versus people who haven’t really ever experienced failure (there are some lucky ones out there). Probably the most important leadership book I’ve read is How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s an oldie but a goodie! Really highlights the importance of how you make other people “feel” in your dealings with them. Hint: it’s more important than you think!
I had a boss at Marathon who told me that not everyone in the world thinks the same way that I do. I don’t know why that was so impactful because it sounds pretty obvious, but it’s really helped me over the years and is something I try to keep front of mind.
My dad very early on told me to not be afraid to fail. This was right before my first big entrepreneurial bust, so it was apropos! My mom’s favorite quote is similar: ‘The worst they can tell you is hell no.’ Generally applies to taking calculated risks."
Leading through the hard times
“Getting through 2020 was definitely a challenging exercise in leadership. The biggest challenge for me was coordinating with our company, investors and outside parties to make pretty impactful strategic decisions in the heat of the fire during the early part of the pandemic and price crash. There were a lot of opportunities for us to make bad decisions given the stress, but constant communication and continually reinforcing our investor’s confidence in our team and plans saw us through. At the end of the year, we looked back and realized we’d had a record year on multiple metrics, so I’m very proud of how we all leaned into each other and executed during such a trying time.
I’ve always thought that a leader should never eschew responsibility, which is something that’s gotten our industry in trouble in the past before. People respond to incentives, and executives are no different in that regard, so it’s important for a leader to be thoughtful in how he or she creates incentivizes that prioritize the right things, and allocate responsibility accordingly."
“Currently I am laser-focused on continuing to execute on our business plan, and finding new and innovative ways to build the Fortuna companies and generate great returns for our investors. Long-term, I don’t see myself ever leaving the energy space. It encompasses such a wide scope of future challenges and opportunities that I’m confident there will always be something to build a business around. I am truly motivated by the incredible benefits the industry provides to society."
Three More Things
- My original career path after graduating college was to be a literary translator! But I’m very glad I pivoted to oil and gas early on.
- I totaled the team van of the New Zealand national cricket team while trying to park it during my first week on the job as a concierge at a hotel in Christchurch.
- I’ve studied Esperanto for more than 10 years. I’m by no means fluent, but I keep a pretty good score on Duolingo.