As a managing director for Apollo Global Management at 36, Dan Vogel lacks the years of a typical industry leader. But he has made many senior moves—most important, bringing others into the fold. As he says, “I’m most proud of the team we have built here [at Apollo]. … When you are given an opportunity to hire and promote talented individuals below you, it greatly enhances your trajectory.”
Vogel says that “not many institutions would give a young guy that much rope so early in his career,” but he remains humble, wryly remarking, “Hopefully Apollo’s bet will pay off.”
Learning a new language: When you listen to Vogel talk about his expectations of himself and his teammates, it sounds like that bet was well-placed. His primary focus is to “constantly challenge yourself.” There’s both lighthearted and serious precedent for this standard. As for the former, some of it likely comes from Vogel’s time as the “only American in [his] classes at an Argentine university … mixing up expressions to the amusement of [his] local classmates.” As for the latter—Vogel has worked through two economic crises, the 2008 recession and the 2015 glut, and knows that a dynamic approach makes or breaks success.
He insists that new candidates meet everyone else on the team before they are hired, as fit is key to building a great team. He admits that the “hiring process can seem extremely rigorous” (candidates go through at least four interviews), but it has allowed Vogel and his colleagues to group together people who are “curious, humble and never stop learning.”
“I helped push the team to continue to deploy and invest in what ended up being the trough. It didn’t feel great at the time, but it took courage or dumb luck to stick to our knitting.”
Contrarians at heart: Vogel recently led the $600 million loan for Birch Permian LLC to support the development of its Howard County acreage. He worked with the company and his partners to structure a flexible solution that allowed value maximization from accelerated development of its core, largely undeveloped Permian asset base.
In any given deal, consistent with Apollo’s overall approach to investing, Vogel embraces contrarianism. As he clarifies, “We are contrarians at Apollo and will likely become even more active as other market participants continue to pull back.”
At the height of the 2015-16 oil and gas downturn, Apollo “began to run head first at the opportunity in the second half of 2015. It felt terrible to go against the grain, when everyone was selling or tightening up on credit.” Vogel was part of this charge, and despite the risk, Apollo’s courage was rewarded. He notes proudly that “2016 was [Apollo’s] largest deployment year in energy credit.” One highlight was the creation of a bespoke convertible preferred equity solution that enabled Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. to make a valuable acquisition and ultimately go public—the first energy IPO since the downturn began.
Already preparing for another challenging industry backdrop, Vogel notes, “In the current environment, we again see an exciting opportunity where others are pulling back.”
Rigorous assumptions: This contrarian spirit is challenging; in Vogel’s words, the difficulty lies in ensuring that “your assumptions are reasonable and that the company can withstand some volatility.”
A great deal of Apollo’s ability to ensure that the company’s assumptions stand to reason comes down to critical thinking. For instance, Vogel says that “we question all of the underlying assumptions and use our deep industry knowledge to generate proprietary analysis.” He describes one example of this method: In a G&P midstream deal, for instance, he says that the deal team asks “how many rigs are operating now, what level of productivity are we seeing in the data and what is the system gathering today… not how many rigs will pile on in time.” He always remains cognizant of a deal’s, or a company’s, breaking point and maintains a reasonable margin of safety.
Looking back, Vogel reflects, “I helped push the team to continue to deploy and invest in what ended up being the trough. It didn’t feel great at the time, but it took courage or dumb luck to stick to our knitting.”