July 27, 2021 – Although boards of directors are considered the backbones of organizations, director recruiting has grown markedly more challenging, say recruiters who conduct searches in that area. As a result, companies continue to turn to executive search firms to help find new board members. Houston, TX-based executive search firm Preng & Associates recently assisted in the recruitment of T. Mitch Little as a new member of the board of directors at Helix Energy Solutions, a Houston-based offshore well intervention firm. Steve Raben led the assignment.
Mr. Little served as executive vice president of operations for Marathon Oil Corporation from 2016 until his retirement in December 2020. He had been responsible for all operations and development activities. Before that, he served in a variety of roles at Marathon, including vice president – conventional and oil sands mining assets, vice president – international and offshore exploration, and production operations, managing director – Norway, and general manager – worldwide drilling and completions.
Mr. Little joined Marathon in 1986 and has over 30 years’ experience in the petroleum industry in various technical, supervisory, and senior management positions. He previously served as the chairman of the Oilfield Energy Center, a non-profit venture dedicated to expanding awareness of subsurface hydrocarbon energy resources and supporting global stewardship in the communities that develop those resources in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Mr. Little will serve as a class I director whose term will expire at Helix’s next annual meeting of shareholders.
Helix Energy Solutions Group is an international offshore energy services company that provides specialty services to the offshore energy industry, with a focus on well intervention and robotics operations. They provide services primarily in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, North Sea, Asia Pacific, and West Africa regions. The company employs over 1,500 employees worldwide, representing 30 different nationalities.
Preng & Associates, founded in 1980, is a retainer-based, international executive search firm specializing solely in the energy industry. The firm’s experience spans the entire energy value chain – from the well head to the wall socket. Its subsector verticals have specific expertise in oil and gas (upstream, midstream, and downstream), oilfield equipment and services, power and utilities, renewables, engineering and construction and industrials. The recruiting outfit has conducted more than 3,700 engagements for over 750 companies and placed highly qualified individuals for board, executive management, and professional positions in 75 countries, according to the firm.
David Preng, the firm’s founder, president and CEO, has worked on over 2,000 energy-related searches during his career, ranging from board and senior executive to managerial and senior technical positions. His current focus is primarily at the board, CEO and C-suite level roles. Mr. Preng’s industry experience includes financial, managerial, and executive positions with Shell Oil, Litton Industries and Southwest Industries.
Mr. Raben has over 30 years of retained executive search and management consulting experience. He has led or executed over 600 (domestic and international) client assignments for public and private oil and gas, petroleum equipment, service and hydrocarbon processing, and transportation companies, at the board, C-suite, and business segment leadership levels.
According to Egon Zehnder, heightened expectations now placed on boards have elevated both the professional standards and personal commitment required of all directors.
The events of last summer may have been a tipping point for the large array of factors that brought to the forefront already existing needs for change in boardroom composition. A new report by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), in collaboration with Deloitte, concludes that that while stakeholders and shareholders increase demands for gender, racial and ethnic diversity in the boardrooms of America’s companies, many forward-thinking boards have come to recognize the benefits of such change. That’s progress.
At the same time, many boards find that the supply of independent-minded “board experienced” directors – especially those who can add vital forms of specialized skills and expertise – is limited. Such candidates are widely sought but can be hesitant to take on the intensive responsibilities now required of board service.
Most in demand are women, senior leaders with global experience, ethnically diverse professionals, and millennials.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media