Position: President and general counsel
Company: Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association
Family: Wife, Sarah, and two children: Hutson (3) and Ella (2)
Hometown: Falls Church, Virginia
Education: BA in Economics, James Madison University; JD, Loyola-New Orleans; MBA, LSU
In the news:
In January, Gray was named president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, becoming the youngest person to hold the association’s top position in its 96-year history. Gray has also served as general counsel for LMOGA since February 2014.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
I have had a lot of jobs, starting when I was 16. I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to turn 16 so I could work. The first job that I really remember is working maintenance at a school, which included everything from moving desks to digging ditches. Here, I learned to stay in school.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I get up at 5 a.m. When we are not in session, I like to meditate and run. It helps start the day with a clear head focused on the present.
You took over as president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association at the start of the year (having served as general counsel at LMOGA for three years previous). What are your top priorities in your first year on the job?
My goal is to execute the strategy set forth by our board of directors. For this year, we are focused on those goals while working towards a better business, tax and legal climate that encourages investment and growth for our industry and Louisiana.
You are also the youngest president in LMOGA’s 96-year history. What challenges does that pose and what opportunities does it afford?
From an age standpoint, people may assume you’re inexperienced or naïve. However, when it comes to the industry, running an organization or communicating with members, I am very comfortable in gathering information to ensure I overcome any potential shortcoming. From an opportunity standpoint, the sky is the limit. For me, every day is an opportunity to build on the previous one.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
This is easy: being nimble and patient. Overcoming challenges that emerge requires thought and action, not one or the other. Naturally, I want to lead, so it takes more effort, for me, to listen and be patient, which are incredibly important skills in leadership. Because I find that positive response from peers and colleagues comes from how you react, not how you plan for it.
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
I spend a lot of time with internal stakeholders. Finding compromise through collaboration takes effort, but it’s the best way to present what’s best for the industry.
Prior to joining LMOGA, you were an attorney for the Office of Conservation at the Department of Natural Resources. How does that experience benefit you in your role at LMOGA?
I understand how to execute policy decisions. With my background in government, I understand the challenges brought on by open-ended broad recommendations without analysis into their execution.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
Running, reading and my kids. As a former college athlete, I need exercise. Now that I’m done with school for the moment, I read any book I can get my hands on. Most importantly, there’s nothing I would rather do than listen to my kids tell me about their day. They’re the best.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are you most likely to take me and what do you recommend I order?
It depends on what kind of food you like. I try to cater to whoever I’m eating with. I am not a picky eater. If you don’t pick a place, you’ll find yourself eating at Superior Grill.
As a husband and father of two, what is your strategy for achieving a healthy work-life balance?
This is a tough question for me because I love to work. When I shared this question with my wife, she asked if I was going to say something about me being a robot. I have been blessed with a relentless resolve and energetic personality. This helps me to work, stay focused, and then shut it off when I come home. My other secret is to take breaks and get away to places without cell phone coverage!
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
The smartest: Amazon Fire tablets for my son and daughter on Amazon Prime Day. Being 2 and 3, it’s nice to have something to hand them when we are out. The dumbest: I spent $200 on eBay for a used Rosetta Stone computer program because I thought I could teach myself Mandarin.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What’s one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to you?
That I have made it to where I am today. Hard work doesn’t always pay off for everyone and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
When I was in law school, I got to know Fr. Kevin Wildes, the president of Loyola University at the time. He brought me a long way at a turning point in my life. From an oil and gas perspective, I learned a lot from my former boss, Gary Ross.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Make an impact. It’s important to take care of my family, but I want to be a positive influence and share a laugh with everyone I meet.