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High-Performer Spotlight: Josh Shapiro, Vice President, Finance, U.S. Well Services

Shapiro serves on the Council’s Emerging Executives Committee. Shapiro recently shared his insights on the OFS sector.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?

Josh Shapiro: For me, joining the oil and gas industry was completely unplanned. At the end of my second year in business school, I was set to rejoin my previous employer and return to a job in investment banking covering the financial services sector. One month before graduation, I was asked to move to Houston and help build out my firm’s energy group. Although it was a bit of a shock initially, I can’t imagine myself working in another industry now. 

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?

JS: My company’s founder and CEO, Joel Broussard, has been a great mentor for me. I first met him in 2017 working as an investment banker advising U.S. Well Services (USWS). I worked closely with him as a banker and ultimately joined the USWS team in 2019. Joel is a proven entrepreneur and working with him taught me valuable lessons about how to build, grow and operate a business. Most importantly, he’s always offered insights into how he absorbs information and evaluates potential outcomes when making critical decisions. Joel showed me the value of taking calculated risks.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?

JS: Before entering the industry in 2014, I knew very little about it, and had a limited understanding of how hydrocarbons were found and produced. Now I recognize oil and gas as a fast-paced industry constantly disrupted by entrepreneurs with innovative technologies and new approaches to solving complex problems.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What has surprised you most about the industry? 

JS: The most surprising thing to me about the oil and gas industry is its resilience. The ability of companies to find creative ways to survive and thrive during this latest industry downturn has been incredible.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?

JS: Over the next five years, I hope to see the industry continue to reduce carbon emissions and enhance the safety of our operations. The industry has never been so focused on improving its environmental stewardship, and I’m excited to see further improvement on this front while we continue to meet the growing demand for energy.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future? 

JS: The past several years have been difficult, with lower commodity prices and declining profitability driving firms to shrink their workforce. We’ve lost many talented individuals who would otherwise mentor and train the next generation of workers. Now more than ever, I believe it’s important to dedicate time to mentoring and coaching junior employees, and I look forward to helping to develop the next generation of talent.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals? 

JS: The Energy Workforce & Technology Council offers an extraordinary network of people and companies working in energy services.  Through the Emerging Executives Committee and Council events, I’ve had a chance to meet some great individuals, learn more about the industry and bring best practices back to my company.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?

JS: Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work with the Tucker family — owners of Tucker Energy Services. Wayne Tucker and his family built an incredible business and attributed much of their success to an unwavering focus on safety. Working with the Tuckers, I not only saw that their top priority was the safety and wellbeing of their employees, but also how that helped foster great morale, operational efficiency, and profitability. My takeaway was that by establishing a culture of safety and responsibility, a company is more likely to achieve operational excellence and strong financial performance. Employees who feel protected, valued, and empowered will always be an organization’s best assets.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What project that you’ve worked on are you most proud of?

JS: One project that stands out is advising USWS on its reverse merger with Matlin & Partners Acquisition Corp. in 2018. Along with several of my colleagues at Simmons Energy, I advised USWS management and Board of Directors on a sale of the business to a SPAC that resulted in USWS becoming a publicly traded company. I’m proud of this project because I helped execute a creative transaction in a challenging market environment. Ultimately, this deal allowed USWS to build and deploy a new generation of electric hydraulic fracturing fleets that are changing the pressure pumping industry.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the OFS that impressed you?

JS: The OFS sector’s advancements in artificial intelligence have been particularly impressive to me. At my company, we capture millions of data points per day and are building machine learning capabilities that will help us optimize equipment life and operate at maximum efficiency. AI systems have been adopted and incorporated in our operations and made a real on reducing operating costs. The technology will only improve over time, and I am excited to see it develop.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?

JS: Work hard and forge relationships with as many people across as many functional areas as possible. The industry offers so many great learning opportunities and experienced people to help shape your career trajectory. Also, I believe no other industry rewards creativity and work ethic like oil and gas.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?

JS: I wish people knew how vital the oil and gas industry was to their everyday life. Too often we hear criticisms of our industry or calls for the elimination of fossil fuels from people who have no idea how reliant they are on hydrocarbons and petrochemical products. I wish they would know that without fossil fuels there are no air conditioning units, iPhones, reliable electricity, and other daily necessities.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What do you do for fun?

JS: In my free time I enjoy playing golf (poorly), watching the Astros, and spending time with my wife, son and dog.

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

JS: I think a trip to Hawaii is the ultimate vacation.  It has something for everyone: great beaches, snorkeling, hiking, golf and good food!

ENERGY WORKFORCE: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?

JS: My dream is to go on the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” and challenge him to a breakfast throwdown.  Spoiler alert — I would win!

For more information on the Emerging Executives Committee and High Performer Spotlights, contact Council COO Molly Determan.

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