Riverstone’s Hackett to Balance Divinity With Energy

Jim Hackett, the former energy CEO joining Riverstone Holdings LLC’s investment business, said his “primary duty” will be completing a degree at Harvard Divinity School as he seeks to merge faith with leadership.

Hackett will be co-leader of New York-based Riverstone’s Houston office, according to a company statement today. Hackett was the former chief executive officer of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and stepped down as chairman of the oil and natural gas producer last month.

In an interview, Hackett said Riverstone will allow him to remain involved in energy while commuting to Massachusetts for Harvard classes.

“It’s a way to still stay in touch with a business I love as a principal, but to do it very much in light of my primary duty, which is to go back to school,” Hackett, 59, said today.

The new Riverstone partner said he’ll pursue a master’s of theological studies at Harvard, completing the two-year degree program over the next four years.

After the scandals involving fraud at Enron Corp., which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001, Hackett said he began thinking more about balancing business with spiritualism. He’s wanted to study theology more formally since he was 20 years old, he said, as his thinking on faith and philosophy spurred his interest in comparative religions even as it solidified his Catholic beliefs.

Now, Hackett said he’d “love to spend at least half my time on Riverstone and half my time on school.” The most successful enterprises don’t “punch clocks,” and they instead see what value a person adds, Hackett said.

Reverend Watts

Also in the mix will be his chairman role at Baylor College of Medicine and spots on boards at such companies as Fluor Corp. and Cameron International Corp. He said he’s ending some commitments, such as Rice University’s board, to better manage his time.

Hackett isn’t the first energy CEO to take a religious path. Philip Watts, who was ousted as chairman of what’s now Royal Dutch Shell Plc in 2004 amid an accounting scandal, has since become a priest for the Church of England, posted at the Waltham St. Lawrence parish in the U.K.

Riverstone, founded in 2000, has about $24 billion of equity capital raised across seven investment funds, according to its website. It has invested in such companies as Cobalt International Energy Inc., Magellan Midstream Partners LP and Coastal Carolina Clean Power LLC.

Energy Investors

Riverstone works with oil and gas producers and funds independent operators, contributing to the production of energy the world needs, Hackett said. The position at Riverstone will help him avoid competing directly with Anadarko, he said.

James David, a spokesman for Riverstone, declined to comment on Hackett beyond the company’s statement today.

“Jim will work closely with our existing investment team and portfolio companies while helping us continue to source, build and manage new investment opportunities on behalf of our limited partners,” David M. Leuschen and Pierre F. Lapeyre, Jr., co-founders of Riverstone, said in the statement. Hackett also will be charged with identifying and attracting top-quality energy management teams, Riverstone said.

Hackett called his chances of running a company again “really remote,” since he’d have stayed at Anadarko if that’s the kind of work he wanted to do. He joined Anadarko as CEO in December 2003 and held that position until May 2012. He retired from The Woodlands, Texas-based company this month.

Political Future?

He remains interested in politics, and said bad government damages progress in the U.S. A chance to make a difference in government, surrounded by the right people, is something he’d consider, he said.

“If that opportunity became available some day, remote as it might be at this stage in my life, I’d be very interested in trying to serve,” he said.

First, though, he’s determined to finish school, he said. Hackett said he’ll probably focus on writing and teaching after Harvard.

“It’s really simply to be able to write with more credibility, to be able to teach and to be able to speak about faith and leadership,” Hackett said.

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