Brett Baker
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Chief Commercial Officer, Stakeholder Midstream, San Antonio
2 FortyUnder40 Baker, Brett

Amid a pandemic and beleaguered market, Brett Baker, CCO of Stakeholder Midstream, remains optimistic, finding opportunities to learn from challenges the industry faces. Baker, who said he “enjoys finding creative solutions that work for a variety of parties with diverse drivers,” has had success in leading strategic acquisitions and transactions during the downturn.

Having a knack for relationships, plus the advantage of having worked in both the upstream and midstream sectors, has helped Baker contribute to Stakeholder’s success, with the company now set-up as “a long-term sustainable business with a great asset base and outlook,” he said.

San Andres collaboration

“Early on after Stakeholder’s formation, the team focused its efforts on the emerging horizontal development occurring in the San Andres play in West Texas and eastern New Mexico. The upstream story and drilling and completion techniques had not yet been fully developed.

“Stakeholder coordinated multiple San Andres Producer Conferences, which provided an opportunity for the producer community to contribute and share information to better the success of the entire play.”

Upstream/midstream

“Growing up in Oklahoma, the industry was always front and center. My first industry role was at Chesapeake Energy doing land title work.

“I had an opportunity early on to move over to Chesapeake’s midstream affiliate to learn the operations side of the business before settling down with a career arc that was more customer and business development focused.

“Having the direct upstream experience, as well as coordinating directly with an upstream affiliate, has really shaped the way that I think about fair and equitable solutions that work well for all parties.”

Career perspective

“I have been afforded the autonomy and support early on to make mistakes and then learn and grow from them. Although challenges are usually unique, I find that you can typically creatively tweak a prior successful plan for almost any application.

“The opportunity to develop into a managing partner and help drive a business’s core strategy would have been goals of mine at some point, but early on in my career, I would not have anticipated the chance at this stage.”

“Always be willing to make a change. It is rare in life for someone’s skills and passions to line up perfectly at a young age.”

Navigating adversity

“Securing downstream product takeaway during the industry’s tightest market certainly measures near the top [of my most challenging projects].

“We are often met with situations where we are working with multiple groups, which have very different interests, to arrive at a mutually beneficial point. By partnering with both upstream and downstream parties, we have been able to craft solutions that work for all.”

Leadership qualities

“Humility and a capacity for understanding others’ perspectives are two of the most crucial platforms for a successful leader.

“Internally, one of my core tenets [as a leader] is to help individuals find validation within their work and expertise. Externally, seeking win/win solutions as the basis for every partnership that we forge with producer customers as well as downstream relationships is paramount.”

Industry outlook

“There exists a large tranche of young and very specialized individuals that have never faced an extended downturn within their young careers until now. Industry leaders will likely be required to change the historical approach to maintaining this young talent in the face of the typical boom/bust cycle.

“[These] young industry representatives are the connection point between the current fossil fuel industry and the upcoming generation which identifies with the development and merger with alternative fuels. That unique perspective will be key in pushing the industry, as we know it today, forward.”

Advice for young professionals

“Always be willing to make a change. It is rare in life for someone’s skills and passions to line up perfectly at a young age. As you gain more experience and try new roles, you’ll find that your passion for a specific thing might grow and intersect with a developing skill in order to identify the best career path or role fit.”