Trent Justus Kososki
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Managing Director, Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, Houston
25 FortyUnder40 Kososki, Trent

Growing up, exposure to the global oil and gas industry led Trent Kososki, managing director at Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, to have some remarkable experiences, including helping found a little league baseball league in Kazakhstan and meeting Jane Goodall while aboard an armored convoy evacuating expats from the Congo. It has also helped prepare him for his career in the energy infrastructure investing industry; he worked at Credit Suisse and Energy Capital Partners before joining the team at Stonepeak.

When asked about entering the oil and gas industry, Kososki clarifies, “Technically, I entered the ‘energy infrastructure investing industry,’ not the oil and gas industry—upstream is a bit volatile for my risk appetite! I prefer being able to sleep at night by investing in more stable businesses.”

The start of an adventure

“In 2005 after completing my first year at CSFB as an analyst in the Sponsors Group, I turned down an offer to join a well-established energy private-equity firm and elected to take the ‘road less traveled.’ I accepted an offer to join the team at Energy Capital Partners as its first associate. We had no office and no funds raised—just a team and a vision.

“Little did I know that I would be embarking upon a nearly 15-year adventure—with a firm that grew assets from zero to $20 billion-plus under management and developed a reputation as a leading energy infrastructure investor. I am deeply fortunate for the opportunity to have been part of the journey from start-up to an established infrastructure investor.”

David vs. Goliath

“In 2013 while at ECP, I was involved in backing a high caliber midstream team called Rimrock Midstream that, against all odds and in a bit of a David vs. Goliath-like scenario, ended up successfully signing up off-take agreements to build the Grand Mesa Pipeline, a 550-mile pipeline to bring Rockies crude oil to Cushing, Okla. The team was a small, scrappy, private midstream company that succeeded against many incumbent midstream companies and well-capitalized, strategic competitors. Ultimately, it was the strength of the Rimrock team’s relationships that allowed it to successfully develop a critical take-away solution for Denver-Julesburg producers and a strong investment outcome.”

Join the club

“In 2013 in New York, a couple close friends and I started an organization called The New York Petroleum Club to share ideas, discuss energy industry issues and connect with fellow industry and investment professionals. Over the coming years, what started as a 12-person dinner in 2013 snowballed into quarterly events with 50 to 75-plus attendees and featured energy and power industry executive speakers. Our membership roster included 150-plus professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences including leading private-equity funds, hedge funds, strategics, family offices, pension funds and endowments. With some luck and an oil price recovery, our goal is to establish a permanent location for the New York Petroleum Club in New York.”

To the books

"One of the best pieces of advice I received is actually the simplest—it was provided to me shortly after a disappointing professional setback many years ago. Despite believing I deserved a promotion, I didn’t receive it. My mentor’s advice was simple: ‘Read books.’ I set out a lofty ‘moon-shot’ goal of reading a book a week, and despite falling slightly short of it, my efforts launched me on a multiyear journey that has enriched my life in countless ways.”

Leadership qualities

“Good leaders recognize that failure is a better teacher than success and have the determination and grit to persevere. They never stop learning and are deeply curious while maintaining intellectual humility. A true leader recognizes the importance of seeking diverse perspectives, has an ability to change one’s mind when presented with appropriate information and is not afraid to admit when one makes mistakes.

“As someone who is fortunate to have been raised as a global citizen, I firmly believe it is essential that leaders in the energy sector recognize and respect just how global the industry is. Innovation on the other side of the world or geopolitical and macro events can impact their industry and businesses.”

“Be contrarian, swim against the tide and think independently.”