Chief Executive Officer
Our quarterly Director Spotlight features Amanda Brock, CEO of Aris Water Solutions and the 2022 Chair for the TBHF Board of Directors.
You grew up in Swaziland and Zimbabwe and completed your undergraduate education in South Africa. How has being an immigrant benefited you in business?
Being an immigrant can pose unique challenges in any business. In my case, I had an advantage of coming from an English-speaking region in Africa and did not have to deal with a language barrier. I also came to the US for law school, so I was more assimilated by the time I took my first job at Vinson & Elkins. However, like most immigrants who have come to America for education or the hope of a better future, I think I was more focused very early, more appreciative of the opportunities that presented themselves, recognized the challenges, and worked extremely hard to overcome all obstacles. When there are no opportunities or safety nets behind you, you have to just put your head down and always try and do your best. I have also joked over time that perhaps it was my English accent that helped me most because it made me sound smarter than I was!
You’ve held leadership positions at Enron, Azurix, Water Standard, and Aris (formerly Solaris). How has your leadership style evolved throughout your career?
As we evolve as leaders we learn from those we work with or observe and recognize traits that are constructive and also those that have negative impacts. However, we have to develop our own style and that comes with trial and error and learning many lessons along the way. You have to lead by example, and I believe you cannot expect from others what you do not require from yourself. You have to listen, be self aware and still vulnerable enough to admit error and correct. Given my background and the unique character of the companies I have worked with, overtime I believe I have become more transparent, compassionate, less ego driven, more patient with people, while consistently trying to motivate, coach, execute on our vision and holding people accountable.
As CEO of Aris, you were instrumental in the company’s IPO in 2021. What was the biggest lesson you learned from taking a company public?
Going public is not for the fainthearted and was one of the most stressful periods of my career. As an energy related company going public in October of 2021, we were met with significant headwinds. We believe we were the first midstream related IPO in 4 years. We were fortunately successful and are coming up on our one-year anniversary and it has been quite a roller coaster in this macro environment. Biggest lesson learned is you have to have endurance because it will be tested; you have to have a great Team around you that is driven and committed and prepared for the heavy lift; you have to be able to communicate the strategy and vision of the Company; and more than anything you have to absolutely believe in what you are doing and the Team around you. And perhaps most importantly you must rely on those around you who have IPO’ed before and can provide you with feedback and guidance. In my case our Founder and Executive Chairman, Bill Zartler, has taken many companies public before and was pivotal to the success of our IPO. He is also a prior TBHF Scholar!
What is one attribute or trait you think has benefited you the most in your career?
This is always an interesting question when trying to distill an answer to one trait. I have to go with work ethic.
How do you define “excellence” in business?
So much has been written trying to concisely distill this answer. To me excellence is the creation of a healthy organization that is rooted in shared vision and values and is driven to succeed.
You have been a member of the TBHF Board of Directors for over a decade and are the current Chairperson. As TBHF is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, can you share from your perspective the impact this organization has on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Texas?
The impact of the TBHF in Texas has been enormous and continues to grow year over year. We have inspirational Legends who have helped build Texas and are proud to participate in this organization and give back to the organization as it increases its engagement. The impact we have on students and veterans through our scholarship programs recognizing entrepreneurialism is immense. The value of mentorship is incalculable, and our focus on recognizing and encouraging scholars of all backgrounds who want to dream and build a business while giving back to their communities is something we are very proud of. Texas is still a state where dreams can be realized and the TBHF plays its part in recognizing those that have achieved their goals while encouraging those who still dare to dream that they can make a difference in building a business and creating value not only for themselves but others. It is an amazing organization, led by a committed Executive Director, her talented Team and an exceptional Board.