Brandon Standifird
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CFO, U.S. Energy Development Corp., Arlington, Texas
34 FortyUnder40 Standifird, Brandon

In the first half of his career at PwC, Brandon Standifird worked on significant projects and transactions in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, telecommunications, real estate and financial services, which afforded him insight into diverse management procedures. This helped prepare him for his current role as CFO with U.S. Energy Development Corp.

At PwC, Standifird won the National Chairman’s Award, which recognizes high-performing teams that go “above and beyond” on behalf of their client. “That experience was after a six-month engagement working many hours late into the night to complete the audit of a parent company and a dozen or so subsidiaries,” he said.

Since entering oil and gas, Standifird finds motivation in the industry’s people, the products it offers and the opportunities it offers to learn and grow.

Getting started in oil and gas

“During the first half of my career with PwC, I had been assigned to work on several oil and gas clients, this included working on special transactions, quarterly reviews, debt offerings, equity offerings, SOX work as well as annual audits. My interest in oil and gas grew as I learned the ins and outs of the industry as well the flow of transactions from the time capital is first spent to the date of production. Upon leaving PwC, I found my first job in oil and gas and have been a huge supporter of industry ever since.”

Career milestone

“I’ve always tried to take each opportunity presented to me in my career to learn as much as possible, apply myself, build capable teams and, when the timing was right, move on to the next opportunity. Recently I was promoted to CFO of U.S. Energy. The promotion was unexpected and sooner than I had anticipated. I don’t think it’s any secret, and it may sound a bit cliché, but hard work is a part of it as well as building lasting, trusting relationships and delivering on what you agreed to deliver on. After this, I think it doesn’t hurt to catch a few breaks and being in the right place at the right time with the right skill set helps set the trajectory for your career.”

Leadership in action

“Within my current role, I was in the position of rebuilding and creating a finance and accounting department that performed at a high level and that worked well together. Making key hires and then working closely with those individuals to build out a department has required both patience and expertise. Some of those key hires took much longer than anticipated and created increased workloads for the short term. As time went on, we were able to identify qualified individuals and make hires that we believe are long-term hires. Leadership is elevated or diminished based on those that you surround yourself with.”

Strong mentors

“Within my current role, the CEO has placed a tremendous amount of trust and confidence in the work that I am doing. As a leader, he has the ability to break things down into silos and get to focal points to understand and solve key issues facing the company. It’s been a good example to me as I work on my problem-solving capabilities and ability to understand the root of an issue.”

Balancing priorities

“I recently began studying to receive my MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Juggling work, family and school is proving to be very difficult and overwhelming at times. While I haven’t accomplished the goal yet, a few keys [to accomplishing it] are setting expectations on all fronts, communication, communication, communication and great support at work, home and at school.”

Learn the disciplines

“If you’ve got a financial/accounting background, I think it’s imperative to really learn the industry. Take time every day to talk with every discipline within the industry—operations, land, geology, etc. You’ll realize quickly how much there is to learn and how much more capable you become as you start understanding the technical/operations of the business. Any time you can communicate intelligently and freely with anyone inside the organization your leadership skills become greater.”

“Any time you can communicate intelligently and freely with anyone inside the organization your leadership skills become greater.”