Best boss

Houston energy exec scores well on list of top CEOs at Fortune 100 companies

A.J. "Jim" Teague received glowing reviews from ex-employees. EnterprisePartnersProducts
Correction: The original article referenced information from a ranking from Upslide that mistakenly reported Jim Teague's Glassdoor employee approval ratings as 9 percent, rather than his actual approval rating of 96 percent. The corrected story is below.

CEO A.J. "Jim" Teague, of Houston-based pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners LP, has received top marks according to Glassdoor data. Teague receives 96 percent approval rating from employees who've reviewed him on the platform, according to Glassdoor.

The Money Inc. website says Teague, who became CEO in 2016, is working to reconfigure the culture at Enterprise Products Partners. "His goal is to shape that culture so that the company itself can become more popular with the general public," the website notes.

Teague has also received positive reviews locally. In December, the Greater Houston Port Bureau named him its 2020 Maritime Leader of the Year to recognize his support of the Houston Ship Channel.

"Building on the legacy of the late Dan L. Duncan, who started Enterprise in 1968, Teague has remained loyal to the founder's values of hard work, integrity, and perseverance, with an uncompromising commitment to safety," the bureau says in a release.

Fellow Texans also received top marks. As Fortune magazine once observed, Michael Dell's leadership style revolves around "vision, inspiration, curiosity, and ultimately passion." And as it turns out, employees of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies Inc. are equally passionate about their company's chairman and CEO.

According to Glassdoor reviews, Dell has a 97 percent approval rating from employees of Dell Technologies.

In October 2013, Forbes magazine offered a glimpse into how Dell interacts with employees of the tech company he founded in 1984.

After speaking to a group of Dell workers for about 45 minutes, "more than a dozen employees rush forward to have their picture taken with their iconic chief," Forbes wrote, "because they know he'll happily pose — something not many other tech executives would do. He doesn't disappoint. And he leaves them laughing and cheering again after answering a question about what's keeping him up at night. 'I've been sleeping pretty well lately.'"

You might be sleeping pretty well, too, if your net worth were $31.4 billion, making Dell the richest person in Austin and the 18th richest person in the U.S.

Another Fortune 100 company exec, Kelcy Warren, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, scores highly on Glassdoor as well. Warren's employee rating stands at 97 percent.

The respect paid to Warren by Energy Transfer Partner employees almost certainly stems, at least in part, from his laid-back demeanor. He reportedly favors a "non-hierarchical, collaborative management style."

"For all of his success, Warren remains a small-town sort of guy who likes to have buddies to his Dallas mansion on Wednesdays for beers, shuffleboard, and chain yanking," according to a 2015 article published by the Bloomberg news service.

With a net worth of $4.3 billion, Warren ranks 159th on Forbes' list of the richest Americans.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Kelly Avant, investment associate at Houston-based Mercury Fund, shares how and why she made her way into the venture capital arena. Photo courtesy of Mercury

Kelly Avant didn't exactly pave a linear career path for herself. After majoring in gender studies, volunteering in the Peace Corps, and even attending law school — she identified a way to make a bigger impact: venture capital.

"VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems," Avant tells InnovationMap.

Avant joined the Mercury Fund team last year as an MBA associate before joining full time as investment associate. Now, after completing her MBA from Rice University this month, Avant tells InnovationMap why she's excited about this new career in investment in a Q&A.

InnovationMap: From law school and the peace corps, what drew you to start a career in the VC world?

Kelly Avant: I graduated from Rice University with an MBA, starting scouting for an investment firm in my first year, and by the summer after my first year I was essentially working full-time interning with Mercury. But, I like to tell people about my undergraduate degree in gender studies and rhetoric from a little ski college in Colorado. If you meet someone else in venture capital with a degree in gender studies, please connect us, but I think I might be the only one. I’ll spare you what I used to think — and say — about business students, but I have really come full circle.

I always thought I would work in a nonprofit space, but after serving in Cambodia with the Peace Corps, working for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and briefly attending Emory Law School with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer.I found that time and time again the root of the problem was a lack of resources. The world’s problems were not going to be solved with my idealism alone.

The problem with operating as a nonprofit in a capitalism is you basically always pandering to the interests of the donors. The NFL was a key sponsor of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The United States has a complicated, to put it lightly, relationship with Cambodia and Vietnam. It became pretty clear that the donor/nonprofit relationship was oftentimes putting the wrong party in the driver’s seat. I was, and still am, very interested in alternative financing for nonprofits. I became convinced that the most exciting businesses were building solutions to the world’s problems while also turning a profit, which allows them to survive to have a sustainable positive impact.

VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems.

IM: What are some companies you’re excited about?

KA: There are a couple super interesting founders I’ve met directly engaging with . To name a few: CiviTech, DonateStock, and Polco.

I’m very proud to work on mercury investments like Houston’s own, Topl, which has built an extremely lightweight and energy efficient Blockchain that enables tracking of ethical supply chains from the initial interaction.
I’m also excited about mercury’s investment in Zirtue, which enables relationship based peer to peer lending to solve the massive problem of predatory payday loans.

We have so many awesome founders in our portfolio. The best part about working in VC is meeting passionate innovators every day. I get excited to go to work everyday and help them to build better solutions.

IM: Why are you so passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion into Mercury?

KA: I love working with exciting, highly capable, super smart people. That category includes so many people who have been historically excluded. As an investment team member at Mercury, I do have a voice, and I have an obligation to use that voice to speak highly of the best people in rooms of influence.

IM: With your new role, what are you most focused on?

KA: In my new role, I am identifying and researching high potential investments. We’re building out a Mercury educational series to lift the veil of VC. We want to facilitate a series that gives all founders the basic skills to pass VC due diligence and have the opportunity to build the next innovative companies. My goal is ultimately to produce the best returns possible for our investors, and we can’t accomplish that goal unless we’re building out resources to meet the best founders and help them grow.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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