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Positive Energy

Salah Gamoudi helps make an instant CFO impact at SandRidge Energy

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The beginning of the 2020s was off to a wild start for SandRidge Energy. The Oklahoma-based company that operates in both Oklahoma and Kansas has sold its corporate headquarters, while also producing returns for its shareholders that might leave investors who didn’t get in early feeling left out in the cold.

In September 2020, SandRidge announced the completion of the sale of its thirty-story office tower and annex that included parking and ancillary use in Oklahoma City’s downtown for $35.4 million. The eleventh-tallest building in Oklahoma had played home to SandRidge since 2007, including a $100 million renovation of the tower along with four other SandRidge buildings.

At the same time, SandRidge’s share price has soared higher than an oil geyser. Over the last year, the price upped a staggering 139 percent. The confidence of a strong year likely paved the way for SandRidge’s latest acquisition.

In April 2021, SandRidge announced the acquisition of all the overriding royalty interest assets of SandRidge Mississippian Trust. “Buying in the ORRIs from SDT will add to our PDP reserves and improve our netbacks and cash flow in wells that we already operate for the most part,” President and CEO Carl Giesler said in a statement. “This acquisition is a good example of the relatively low-capital, high-return, quick-payback, ‘small-ball’ investments that the Board and management are making to increase shareholder value realization from its asset base.”

While the changes for SandRidge point in a positive direction, it has no doubt been a challenging year for Salah Gamoudi. The senior vice president and CFO arrived in his post after establishing a heavy résumé in the energy space. Gamoudi amassed increasingly larger roles at Jones Energy, Remora Petroleum, Glacier Oil & Gas, and Lime Rock Resources. Prior to entering the energy space, Gamoudi worked in auditor roles at Deloitte and Ernst & Young.

Gamoudi has managed to hit the ground running in his new role. The CFO oversees investor relations, reporting, tax, compliance, strategy, acquisition development and marketing, as well as operations strategy. Since beginning in April 2021, he has endeavored to help SandRidge’s cost structure reduction efforts as well as continued efforts to rightsize SandRidge for an always shifting marketplace.

Those cost-saving measures have included outsourcing some of SandRidge’s IT partners, a successful effort that saved the company $4.2 million in savings on one single project.

The financial team itself is incredibly lean. At present, there is only a controller, a director of financial analysis, and a director of finance. All back-office roles including accounting, administration, and HR roles were outsourced by outside vendors. It made sense in terms of economy of scale and an outside firm’s ability to handle the work versus an in-house staff.

The challenge of coming into an organization and immediately making significant financial decisions is one Gamoudi faces daily. With the variety of responsibilities under his purview, the CFO has had to grow quickly in a very short period of time while relying on those with more institutional knowledge to help him make the most well-informed decisions possible.

To combat the stress that big changes can bring, Gamoudi places an emphasis on health and fitness. That includes more than just diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep. It’s a lifestyle and routine that the SVP believes may seem challenging to adopt initially but absolutely crucial to helping his body catch up to his mind.

While cost saving and outsourcing can be a difficult part of the position, Gamoudi is also passionate about the role of his team in helping move SandRidge forward. The CFO believes that leaders need to work both ways: while employees may be reporting to him, it’s also incumbent on him to report back clearly and openly with those same employees.

Gamoudi says that it’s imperative for him to consider the career trajectories and ambitions for all of those that report up to him, and to be supportive in any way that he can.

There is no doubt that 2020 is a year that Gamoudi won’t forget. He was welcomed into his biggest role-to-date via Zoom but has demonstrated a clear willingness to get down to work quickly and effectively regardless of where he is working from. SandRidge may be down one skyscraper, but that seems to be the only loss on the company’s sheets this year.

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