John Argo
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Vice President of Business Development, Continental Resources Inc., Oklahoma City
1 FortyUnder40 feat. Argo, John

Mediocrity isn’t an option for John Argo, an innovative and ambitious executive who helped Continental Resources Inc. reduce its debt by more than $1 billion and form an unprecedented strategic minerals relationship with leading Canadian royalty corporation Franco-Nevada Corp.

He attributes such lofty accomplishments to determination, drive and the power of teamwork. 

“We are better together than as individuals,” Argo says. “On any given project or opportunity, I attempt to leverage the appropriate strengths of the optimum team members. I have high expectations of others, but I have even higher expectations of myself. I don’t ask of others what I am not willing to do myself.” 

Early mover: Argo began his career as a Dominion E&P Inc. engineer after graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. He later worked for HighMount Exploration & Production LLC and was promoted to its manager of pipelines and facilities before reaching his 28th birthday. 

“I was willing to work on any project or assignment and was willing to work nights, weekends and holidays,” he says. “The more opportunities I was given to learn, the more I was able to learn and the more valuable I became to the organization, first as an individual contributor and team member and later as I moved into leadership roles.” 

He joined Continental in 2014 and was named its vice president of business development in 2018. Argo also graduated with the inaugural cohort of the University of Oklahoma’s Executive MBA in Energy in 2015. 

Blazing trails: Argo encountered the most difficult assignment of his career when he was tasked with developing a first-of-its-kind strategic mineral relationship between Continental and Franco-Nevada. Forming a new, unprecedented venture was uncharted territory for this team, but through hard work and teamwork, they ultimately persevered. 

In August 2018, Continental announced that Franco-Nevada had agreed to pay about $220 million for a stake in the newly-formed minerals subsidiary as well as to collectively commit $375 million to future acquisitions. 

“The more opportunities I was given to learn, the more I was able to learn and the more valuable I became to the organization, first as an individual contributor and team member and later as I moved into leadership roles.”

“In the process, I encouraged my team to persevere through challenges and always progress forward with the end-goal in mind,” Argo says. “While it took a lot of time, energy and effort, we now have a successful, growing minerals business with Franco-Nevada that has a multibillion-dollar IPO potential.” 

Argo has also contributed to Continental’s debt reduction. Since 2016, Continental has identified nonstrategic assets and managed divestiture processes that have led to more than $1 billion in sales proceeds while only divesting 6 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day of associated production. 

Competitive streak: Outside of the office, Argo is a chess master who has won state and local championships. He’s also a championship soccer coach. 

His competitive nature also plays into his passion for the energy industry, which he sees as a space full of unlimited potential. 

“There is a never a shortage of opportunity,” he says. “There is abundant potential in our industry, and every day presents new challenges and opportunities.” 

A tough lesson: When Argo was in fifth grade, his teacher, Mrs. Dansby, gave him a D on a project. She explained that it wasn’t because his paper was bad but rather that it didn’t match his potential. Her message left a lasting impression on Argo. 

“She wanted me to look at my work not in reference to everyone else but in terms of my potential,” he says. “That stuck with me, and since then I have never wanted to just get by. I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well and any opportunity for improvement should be diligently pursued.”