Steve Trauber ’88 found investment banking was a natural use of his analytic and quantitative skills, but his using those skills in the energy industry came about due to more personal reasons.
“I knew the rigors of an investment banking job would require me to not only work extraordinarily long hours, but to travel a lot,” he explains. “If I was going to do it, I wanted my wife in an environment where she was comfortable and with her friends and family.”
Since his wife’s hometown was Houston, Texas, Trauber embraced working in the energy industry’s focal city and it turned out that energy suited him about as well as investment banking did.
“I’ve been blessed to work on a large number of transactions with small and large clients,” he says, recalling how beginning in the second year of his job, he was able to work with Devon Energy and help it transform from a $90 million market capitalization company into a $40 billion corporation. “It was extraordinarily rewarding to see a client grow and add market value like that.”
Trauber also credits Kellogg’s emphasis on group dynamics as key in preparing him to land achievements such as what he accomplished with Devon Energy.
“Truly, in my job and career, eventually everything we do is in groups,” he says. “The opportunity at Kellogg to listen and understand and integrate different thoughts into the ultimate solution enabled me to have that capability long term.”
Looking ahead, though, Trauber is realistic about the challenges facing the energy industry, beginning with how it will attract top talent in the future.
“More millennials today are opting for unique opportunities to make a difference in the world, whether that be something in technology or renewable energy or environmental sciences,” says Trauber. “They would rather do that than be paid well to make personal and family sacrifices.”
Despite these issues, he is optimistic that energy companies will remain big market players in the future and knows at least one reason why an individual might be drawn in to investment banking: It scratches a competitive itch.
“Almost every day there's an opportunity to win or lose,” says Trauber. “I'm going to win a transaction or I am going to lose a transaction to one of my competitors. I've been blessed just in the last 24 hours to have won three separate transactions and that’s seriously rewarding.”
A former college athlete, Trauber enjoys the thrill of competition, but acknowledges that it comes with accepting inevitable loss.
“In our business, if anybody has 20 percent of the market share they’re number one, which means that if I lose four out of five times I’m going to be number one. But losing 4 out of 5 can be debilitating because losing hurts,” he says. “So what motivates me every day is trying not to lose and making sure that I’m doing everything possible, not only within my group to provide leadership and mentorship, but also with my clients in thinking about how I’m going to communicate to them what’s going on in the public markets.”
Trauber acknowledges that the grueling schedule and fierce competition mean his career isn’t for the faint of heart, but he concedes that it’s perfect for him.
“When I get to a point where I don’t feel like I can compete anymore I’m going to have to retire,” he says. “But for now it’s an exhilarating opportunity.”