When she began her career, Margaret Franks did not anticipate undertaking an entrepreneurial venture. However, now serving as managing partner and CFO of Selenite Energy Partners, she said, “I am probably enjoying my career more right now than I ever have previously.”
Franks co-founded Selenite in 2019 with partners Paul Heerwagen and Lindsey McCarty (joined a few months later by Elijah Lavicky) and a capital commitment from Carnelian Energy Capital, but she spent the early portion of her industry career working for large structured capital firms, focused on energy investing.
“Growing up in Midland, oil and gas was what I knew. I had one grandfather who sold Smith drillbits his entire career, and another who was a bit of a wildcatter,” she said. “I enjoy finding creative ways to help oil and gas companies achieve their objectives.”
Taking a leap
When “a combination of a setback that prompted me to seek alternative opportunities and the power of maintaining supportive relationships in the space” connected her with her fellow partners, she took the risk of striking a new venture. “I am most proud of my current role as co-founder of Selenite. Throughout my career, I have been hesitant to truly take risks and have been lucky to be able to move through a few established organizations with relative stability. Selenite presented an opportunity for me to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor in partnership with Carnelian, a group I respect and whose track record has been extraordinary.
“In addition to the risks generally associated with new ventures, it was also a step out for me in terms of partnering with individuals I had not worked with previously and required moving our family from Houston to Oklahoma City.
She hasn’t looked back since. “Having dollars to put to work in the current capital-constrained environment is exciting,” she said.
An outward turn
“Growing up within a firm like TCW/EIG, I was privileged to learn from true trailblazers in the structured capital space. While I began my career focused on structured capital energy transactions, a few years in I largely pivoted to focus on internal special projects and the capital raising side of the business. The opportunity to learn that side of our business is truly valuable, but it also felt like a lower risk proposition for me as a young female. When I looked at where transactions originated and how relationships were built in the upstream space, I felt that I would have a hard time as a female being relevant.
“When I made the transition to Carlyle in 2014, I stepped into a more outward-facing, transaction-focused role and went on to execute and play a part in the origination of several landmark transactions. I think both the energy space and my perception of the roles I could play changed over the last decade in a way that enabled me to be successful in an area where I had previously doubted myself.”
Strong female networks
“I have participated in panels at the Kayo Women’s Energy Conference every year since its inception in 2015 and have loved being involved with the Kayo organization as well as a part of other strong, professional female networks. As my network of female colleagues in the energy space has expanded, my confidence and ambition have grown correspondingly.
“The first year I attended the Kayo Women’s Energy Conference, accustomed to being one of a handful of women at every conference and rarely seeing any take the stage, I was shocked at the number of women in attendance, their impressive resumes and the great content offered in panels. Every year I am so energized and encouraged to see more and more impressive women gathered at this conference.”
Motivation and goals
“I enjoy our team at Selenite, and to me the work is engaging, enables me to capitalize on the network I have created over my last 15 years in the space and provides a great creative outlet.”
“My short-term goals are to place capital and earn returns for our sponsor and their investors such that we establish the viability of Selenite for the long-term. Additionally, I am encouraged to see increasing diversity of independent board members and would jump at the opportunity to utilize my skills and experience in that capacity in the future.”
“I think both the energy space and my perception of the roles I could play changed over the last decade in a way that enabled me to be successful in an area where I had previously doubted myself.”