SBN Staff

Health Care


T.J. Farnsworth

Founder and CEO

SightLine Health

While some isolated hospital radiation oncology departments may be referred to as “the black hole,” T.J. Farnsworth has proven it doesn’t have to have to be that way.

The image is that physicians may just refer a patient, are rarely consulted on treatment strategy, and only find out the patient has completed treatment when the patient themselves inform them.

But at a SightLine Health facility, the difference starts with the centers’ warm colors and wooden floors. It continues with special attention the staff offers patients throughout their care such as always remembering their name, favorite soft drink or coffee, and making sure caregivers pay close attention to what is going on in the patients’ lives. These small things are often taken for granted in health care, but make a big difference in showing how much the staff cares about the patients.

The experience ends with a graduation ceremony at the end of a patient’s treatment, complete with a diploma, medal (which reads, “I did this for my family”), and lots of tears from everyone.

Farnsworth focuses the organization’s culture on patients — and doing everything that can be done to make their lives easier and connect with them. Each center has a cancer navigator who is the single point of contact for patients. Whether patients have a clinical question or an emotional need, the patient has a quarterback to go to for answers.

Initially funding SightLine from his savings and credit card — not something he recommends to other entrepreneurs — Farnsworth later sought outside financing from a venture capital firm. He knew it was critical that he repay his investors or he would never be able to raise money again. His initial investors’ investment grew to have an impressive value.

Currently, SightLine operates centers in Houston, Lubbock, Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver. The company’s future plans include enhancing the SightLine brand around radiation oncology and opening four new centers per year.

How to reach: SightLine Health,


Health Care


Andrew C. Knizley


Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital

Strong individuals can be crucial to an organization when trouble strikes, such as in early 2008 when Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital was on the verge of bankruptcy. Vendors were withholding supply deliveries and the hospital was on the brink of disaster.

Fortunately, Andrew C. Knizley did not panic.

He worked with vendors to ease their concerns and pay them in full within a year. He talked to insurance companies and helped get the hospital to become part of a network of doctors.

Soon, as the high level of service provided became more evident, insurance companies that once denied the hospital acceptance into their networks clamored for Houston Orthopedic because of the high demand from its patients.

As a result, the hospital now routinely ranks among the top hospitals in the nation in various categories of quality and patient satisfaction.

Knizley does not take all the credit for the turnaround. He sees himself as the person who can help an employee fulfill potential and maximize strengths for the betterment of the hospital.

The key is that there are no secrets at Houston Orthopedic. That doesn’t mean employees go around talking about patients and their records that are obviously kept confidential. It just conveys the idea that Knizley wants employees to learn from each other and share best practices about how they all do their jobs.

The goal is to have a well-rounded staff that understands what every person can do to contribute to a great organization.

Knizley tries to hire as many employees as he can through referrals. He looks for people who are motivated and driven to lead themselves and deliver the best results they can on a consistent basis.

So when he needed to hire a compliance attorney, he recruited specifically for someone who would assist Houston Orthopedic “in doing the right thing” and not just focus on trying to get the job done.

How to reach: Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital,


Health Care


Taseer Badar

President and CEO

ZT Wealth/Altus Healthcare Management Services

The genesis of Taseer Badar’s healthcare venture — Altus Healthcare Management Services/ZT Wealth — was the observation that despite a large rise in spending, physicians suffer from a steady decline in professional fees.

This is due to declines in health care benefits from insurance companies and government sources in a climate of increased patient load and increasing liability insurance.

Badar’s goal was to ensure the benefit of the health care dollar to health care professionals who are prime movers of such spending. Badar, Altus’s president and CEO, wanted to invest in physicians’ success and bring cutting-edge technology to the health care arena.

Despite early skepticism from both health care executives and medical practitioners,

Altus HMS/ZT Wealth has grown in both experience and assets.

With only seven years in the industry, Altus HMS has grown to include three surgical centers, six outpatient hospice companies, durable medical equipment, practice management, infusion, a physician-grade vitamin line and a wellness practice.

The company is continuing its growth strategy in 2013 with the addition of three stand-alone, fully functional emergency room locations along with the planned purchase of three additional hospices.

Badar has infused Altus with his entrepreneurial spirit by investing in the business and encouraging his executive staff to do so as well. Personal investments in the company have afforded Badar and his executive team heightened accountability for their business decisions and pronounced dedication to the success of the venture — a management strategy that is reaping impressive rewards.

Badar works hard to “see the invisible” and understand where his company needs to go before the rest of the market does. He firmly believes that the best place for personal investment is in his own firm.

“I don’t like gambling in the market,” Badar says. “I want to invest in what I know, and I know my firm.”

How to reach: Altus Healthcare Management Services,


Health Care


Dana Sellers


Encore Health Resources

Dana Sellers was looking for a summer internship and not having a whole lot of luck when she decided to take a summer job with IBM manufacturing typewriters. In exchange for tuition reimbursement for graduate school, Sellers decided to stay with IBM as a polymer specialist.

A few twists and turns followed as Sellers continued to hone her skills and gain the insight she would need to start her own business. With her partner, Ivo Nelson, Sellers launched a health care IT consulting firm with a focus on clinical transformation for providers.

The company grew and eventually merged with IBM. But after three years, it became obvious that IBM could not provide the more personal focus that smaller health care clients require. So Sellers decided to venture out again and start Encore Health Resources with her partner.

One of her greatest skills as a leader is the ability to take methods and tools that have proven to be effective for one client and replicate them for others. The ability to come through and provide great service to clients helped Encore get into competition with some of the top global consulting firms and succeed.

When Sellers is looking for people to join her team, she’s not as interested in what they have already done. She wants to know what they can do and will do in the future to help her organization improve. These people also need to be adaptable and willing to move here or there as the needs of customers change.

But it’s not all work at Encore. The company has rooms named after popular board games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Life and Twister. It is a nod to one of the company’s core values, “Work Hard, Play Hard!”

Sellers is a firm believer that if you give people opportunities to spend time together, both in work and at play, the strong relationships that are formed will take you far.

How to reach: Encore Health Resources,


Exploration  & Production


David H. Welch

Chairman and CEO

Stone Energy Corp.

David Welch became CEO of Stone Energy Corp. and not only had to fill a big void in leadership but he had to take care of some immediate operating challenges.

The company had lost its CFO, and CEO and founder. In addition, the company’s cost of capital was on the high side and had to be dealt with.

Welch worked quickly to revamp the company’s strategy and has continued to expand the business into new geographical markets.

The company hired several new executives to develop an exploration strategy. In addition, Stone Energy invested in deep water exploration, the Marcellus shale find and other new Gulf of Mexico properties to focus on finding new oil and gas reserves. The shift in strategy has yielded more than a 20 percent compounded annual growth rate in proven reserves.

Welch has led the company through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and as well as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Subsequent to the oil spill, Stone made a commitment to increase investment in deepwater exploration and drilling, which has paid off as Stone Energy was one of the first to get back into the Gulf of Mexico deepwater exploration.

A believer in hiring talent and doing everything possible to keep that talent, Welch has established collaborative decision-making and focused incentive compensation plans as the two key components of his strategy to keep successful performers.

One of the most important components of the company culture is a focus on safety. Stone Energy’s safety record recorded that 2012 and 2011 were two of the safest years with no lost time to injuries in 2011.

Employees are also encouraged to give back to the community through several programs, including the Rigs to Reefs Initiative, which focuses on dismantling abandoned rigs in such a way as to allow the underwater rig structure to remain and support the ecosystem that has developed over the period the rig has been functional.

How to reach: Stone Energy Corp.,

Exploration & Production


John D. Schiller Jr.

Founder, Chairman and CEO

Energy XXI

John D. Schiller Jr. can testify that following a vision tirelessly and unwaveringly will help take your company through challenging times, such as the recent recession.

Schiller, founder, chairman and CEO of Energy XXI can trace the source of his perseverance to a core set of ideals that were engrained in his mind during his formative years — those being his Texas A&M University-influenced ethics, sports- instilled teamwork and innate spirit.

Schiller’s idea that focused teamwork, aimed at a strategic goal will produce the best results, comes in a large part from his many years playing team sports. That chance to win is essential to take on risk, as seen from the beginning of Energy XXI when Schiller raised public capital with nothing more than an idea. Energy XXI had no assets, no revenues and virtually no employees. However, Schiller’s fearless nature and perseverance drove him to make unconventional idea become a reality.

Not only is he a calculated risk taker but he is also an innovator and independent thinker. Schiller invested the initial money that he raised in a package of oil rich properties in the Gulf of Mexico, which became the core assets of Energy XXI, at a time when most other Gulf producers were looking to exit the Gulf field.

Since he launched Energy XXI, Schiller has continued to focus on the core idea upon which the company was founded — to “acquire and exploit” undervalued oil properties. This practice has offered a new take on the matter: while other companies within the industry were paying premium prices to acquire onshore natural gas properties, Schiller was purchasing large mature oil fields at a discount.

Energy XXI has focused on acquiring mature properties that were starved for capital, investing in these fields, and using the cash flow to buy additional properties. Energy XXI has had a record of growth, completing five major acquisitions since its founding in October 2005.

How to reach: Energy XXI,

Exploration & Production


Michael Minarovic

Co-founder and managing director

Arena Energy, LP

Michael Minarovic, a petroleum engineer, had successful careers with Conoco and Newfield Exploration when he began think more often of how the mature oil producing areas in the shallow-water Gulf of Mexico still held vast potential. He was confident that new technology and some talented oil explorers would unlock drilling opportunities.

Minarovic was willing to take risks, and in 1999 with two co-founders, started Arena Energy.

The company’s focus would be to develop lower risk exploitation development drilling opportunities instead of existing producing assets or pursuing higher risk exploration drilling prospects.

Nearly 14 years after its formation, the Arena Energy continues to operate in the same area. It does not divest its “marginal” properties, but it continues to gather new information and reassess often. Minarovic has found that it pays off to look at these fields and the data periodically with a new perspective.

That approach is coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit that Minarovic encourages among his employees, allowing them to invest their own money into partnerships that are formed to fund various drilling projects.

What is noteworthy about these partnerships is that the two that have been formed so far have increased in value exponentially, and yet few of the employees who have invested their personal funds have cashed out their units.

While other operators in the Gulf of Mexico may be exploring other options or getting out completely, Arena continues with its original strategy. Over the past three years, Arena has operated all of the wells that it has drilled and has performed well as compared to its competition.

As Arena became financially successful, the founders began looking for additional opportunities to give back to society, so in 2008 they created the Arena Foundation. Minarovic and the owners of Arena provide the funding of the foundation. Arena encourages its employees to nominate potential recipients, and a four-person board allocates charitable contributions to those organizations it believes Arena can significantly impact.

How to reach: Arena Energy LP,


Exploration & Production


Mark Ellis

President and CEO

LINN Energy, LLC

As the president and CEO of LINN Energy LLC, an upstream exploration and production company, Mark Ellis demonstrates innovation in a unique business model, and his steadfast commitment to a strategy differentiates LINN from any other competitor in his industry.

Ellis’ guidance has been instrumental to LINN as it has grown from a handful of natural gas wells with a few employees into a top-15, publicly traded, multi-billion dollar E&P company employing more than 1,100 people in more than 24 offices across the U.S. Ellis employs a very diverse management team and relies on them to make quick and valuable decisions.

To avoid a big company mentality, he balances LINN’s entrepreneurial spirit and values consistent with a smaller company, while pushing for continued growth and expansion. In his view it’s a marriage of financial and operational.

A common theme in Ellis’ career has been acquiring smaller companies, which plays into the unique business model at LINN. Since inception, LINN has completed 58 acquisitions, including the most recent acquisition of Berry Petroleum. LINN’s acquisition program focuses on U.S. oil and natural gas basins that provide significant opportunities for future growth. The program also targets assets that are financially accretive and provide long-lived, high-quality production with relatively predictable decline curves and low-risk development opportunities.

Ellis’ strategy has allowed the company to grow proved reserves at an average of approximately 59 percent per year to 4,796 Bcfe in 2012 from 255 Bcfe in 2006.

LINN is dramatically different from its upstream peers in vision and business structure and is larger than all the rest put together. LINN has upheld a strategy of acquiring, developing and maximizing cash flow from a growing portfolio of long-life oil and natural gas assets. Ellis has been able to maintain LINN’s distribution stability through the recent credit crisis, while 23 percent of its competition has been forced to either reduce or suspend distributions.

How to reach: LINN Energy LLC,

Energy Services


Christian J. Beckett


Pacific Drilling 

Christian Beckett is the CEO of a start-up offshore drilling company that specializes in ultra-deep water drilling — one of only two drilling companies in the offshore drilling industry capable of drilling at those depths.

Beckett’s vision was to build an elite fleet of drilling ships that serviced only the biggest and most prestigious customers, providing the client with the most advanced equipment to produce efficiently and safely while providing a healthy return on investment to Pacific Drilling’s shareholders.

Beckett was the first employee of Pacific Drilling and was involved in selecting and recruiting each member of the management team. He recruited from the best in the industry as well as those from other professional backgrounds, building a team that was highly seasoned, well-rounded and had the ability to think outside the norm. He would be building a fledgling company into a major player in the market.

Beckett’s philosophy has allowed Pacific Drilling to have an international management team which averages more than 25 years of experience in the offshore drilling industry, which is no easy task for an upstart company.

Aside from staffing a new company, Beckett’s first and foremost difficulty to overcome was a lack of customers. He had to overcome the negativity and doubt from customers who had been in long-standing relationships with Pacific Drilling’s larger competitors. Beckett had experience on his side and his persistence with these potential customers eventually paid off securing the company’s first contract with Chevron.

Today, Pacific Drilling has a two-year backlog with a top-notch customer base including Chevron, Total and Petrobras. Beckett’s other challenge was to acquire the assets and the manpower to service its customers while growing the business.

He strategically planned growth, assessing when new assets would be ordered and delivered while securing contracts. Pacific Drilling went from 16 employees in 2008 to more than 1,100 employees in 2013.

How to reach: Pacific Drilling,

Energy Services


John T. Rynd

President and CEO

Hercules Offshore Inc.

John Rynd’s career started on an offshore drilling rig doing much of the same things his business, Hercules Offshore Inc., does today. From those early roles onboard an oil rig, Rynd worked his way up and became president and CEO at Hercules in 2008.

His leadership at Hercules Offshore has been invaluable throughout the challenges faced over the last several years, ranging from the global financial crisis to an unprecedented slowdown in domestic offshore drilling to the Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon blowout.

The most significant risk and hurdle Hercules and Rynd have faced has been the global financial crisis of 2008. With decreased financial performance, the company was facing the risk of breaking a debt covenant in late 2009 and 2010. The fear that Hercules Offshore would not remain in business was a constant thought in Rynd’s mind, but in an uncertain time Rynd encouraged everyone to remain focused on the things that could be controlled.

In 2011, the company made an investment in Discovery Offshore, a newly formed, pure-play high-specification jackup company. Over the last two years, Hercules Offshore’s ownership in Discovery has grown from 8 percent to 32 percent. This investment gives Hercules the opportunity to participate in the high-end jackup market, leverage its geographic footprint and experience, expand upon its reputation for operational excellence and improve cash flow without significant capital exposure.

Since then the company has announced additional acquisitions that offer further opportunity for the company. Under Rynd’s direction Hercules Offshore was able to further expand its fleet, reduce its cost structure and financial leverage, improve operationally and maintain a stringent focus on safety.

The company’s focus is on staying the course of its mission and not deferring from its core goal of creating value for shareholders despite whatever challenges the economic environment throws in its path. These steps positioned Hercules Offshore to capitalize on the rebound in activity that started in 2012.

How to reach: Hercules Offshore Inc.,