Sean Iago
32

Vice President of A&D and Business Development, Native Exploration Holdings LLC, Oklahoma City
17 FortyUnder40 Iago, Sean

Sean Iago joined Native Exploration Holdings LLC two weeks after the birth of his first son in the early stages of a renewed land grab in the Merge play of the Anadarko Basin. Over the next two years, he and his team worked to organically and rapidly build a 27,000 net acre leasehold position at its peak, closing nearly 1,000 transactions in less than two years.

The 32-year old vice president of A&D and business development credits his ability to lead a team at such a rigorous pace in part to “a young life heavily involved in sports. I quickly learned there may be more talented individuals, but not everyone is willing to put in the work to succeed. As the saying goes, ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’” he said.

Lightning deals

“A professional achievement I am proud of was negotiating, drafting and closing 22 leasehold exchanges in less than two years at Native. It was a team accomplishment that was reflective of our agility, detail and speed. These deals have several components and generally require a creative mindset and thorough understanding of the short and long-term goals of the parties.

“One key exchange was consummated with competing rigs simultaneously drilling the same unit. By challenging industry standards and successfully obtaining dual emergency orders for a permit to drill alongside EOG Resources Inc., Native expedited its plans to build location and drill its well slot to stake its claim as unit operator. With operations ongoing for both parties, I was able to negotiate and close a $5.5 million trade in 48 hours to deliver Native a block of units that would become its core focus area in the county.”

Career milestones

“I have only worked at two entities my entire 10-year career, so promotions and titles are basic milestones to reference and measure. By way of seven promotions and one company move, obtaining the position of vice president of A&D and business development at age 31 was meaningful in various capacities.

“We all set out to advance to the top as quickly as possible. Performing more than expected has allowed me to earn positions without having to change companies frequently. I compete for opportunities and ensure that it is not just a title or salary figure I am pursuing, but also the ability to make impactful decisions with the respect and support of my peers and colleagues.”

Advice to young professionals

“Doing is the best training. Do not allow your job description to define your role and contribution. There is always more to be done, and if you are proactive versus reactive, there is only upside waiting for you in return.

“Be willing to commit and create your own opportunities. Accept responsibilities that fall outside your purview, as it does nothing but accelerate your growth as a professional and encourages others to do the same. Every time you say ‘yes,’ you’re expanding your knowledge base and network.”

Staying motivated

“The amount of varying expertise that this industry requires is incredibly widespread. When you analyze the complex life cycle of a hydrocarbon with the practices and professionals utilized, you simply appreciate the sheer ability to produce affordable energy sources and products for our everyday use.

“This business has allowed me to consistently motivate myself as there is always something new to learn and a problem to solve. The market cycle of the oil and gas space is ever-challenging but also continuously opportunistic. Our industry is full of hardworking and gritty individuals—those willing to compete will survive, and those able to anticipate and innovate will prosper.”

Professional goals

“My short-term goal is continuing to build and leverage relationships that foster creative and strategic transactions to drive immediate value for Native. We have a dynamic group with an entrepreneurial spirit that empowers you to think outside the box and be bold in your approach.

“My long-term career goal is to raise, generate and manage private investment funds with a team of specialists that both actively trades as well as holds high-yielding real property assets across the energy and real estate sectors.”

“The moment you become complacent or stagnant, someone or something is passing you by.”