Over the last two years, Hays has pioneered the company’s sustainability strategy, which reached a first this year, with the publication of its inaugural sustainability report. She has also played a key role in previous years in raising capital as part of Concho’s series of bolt-on acquisitions, culminating in nearly $3 billion in capital raised primarily from existing shareholders.
Getting started in oil and gas
“They say the oil business is part luck—and my start in the industry was total luck. I was about to graduate college and met the founder and CEO of Approach Resources, Ross Craft, while waiting tables at a local steakhouse. I started out at Approach coding invoices from the field office, and after several months, I was promoted to receptionist. While I was the receptionist, the company kicked off the IPO process, and I seized the opportunity to help in any way possible, from drafting the S-1 Registration Statement, assisting with registering the ticker, preparing the roadshow presentation and eventually growing into the investor relations role.”
“My first capital raise after the IPO for Approach was very memorable—it overlapped with my wedding and honeymoon. After getting married, I hustled to NYC to launch the offering. The deal was very successful, with the equity rallying into the pricing (went from about $15 per share to about $19 per share). I delayed our honeymoon to complete the transaction—it was a great learning experience and I was thankful that my new husband was understanding.”
“I was promoted to vice president of investor relations about two and a half years after joining Concho. The promotion took place during the company Halloween celebration, and I was about six months pregnant. I worked hard for the promotion and certainly had my mind set on it, but I did not expect it at that point in my personal and professional timeline.
“We had accomplished a lot over those two and a half years, including joining the S&P 500, attracting a few high-quality investors and successfully raising capital to solidify the company’s balance sheet and play offense.”
“I have been very fortunate to meet industry leaders—actual leaders of companies and thought leaders. I try to take what I can from every interaction. A person I currently consider a mentor probably doesn’t recognize that they are mentoring, but they set a good example, and I always learn something new when I’m around them … and they have a great sense of humor and humility. Their advice is short yet wise: Work hard, show up on time and tell the truth—that’s a pretty good formula for success.”
A sustainable future
“Over the past two years, I have helped shape Concho’s sustainability journey and strategy, enhancing our communication and transparency both internally and externally. We believe sustainability is core to our strategy and success. Sustainability at Concho includes prioritizing good corporate governance and the safety and health of our employees; managing our environmental impact; empowering our workforce; and serving the communities where we operate. It’s been a great journey for me too, culminating in the recent publication of our inaugural sustainability report. The report required collaboration across nearly every department in our organization, and I enjoyed working with my colleagues to make it happen.”
Advice to young professionals
“One tactical piece of advice: The industry is getting smarter and investment decisions are informed by big data, so appreciate the data—it will help you understand trends in our business so we can work smarter.
“And, big picture: Invest in your education and know that the only person that can tell you ‘no’ is you. Never miss an opportunity—be bold, take risks, have a plan—and surround yourself with people you admire.”
“It’s a great industry. We provide a competitive source of energy, and energy is key for raising the quality of life across the world. I’m proud to be a part of that.”