Rising Stars Class of 2019: Matthew Kielbasinski; Hammerhead Resources

Today’s up-and-coming leaders are helping to shape tomorrow’s energy future. Whether it’s new thinking, fresh attitudes or technical solutions, showcasing their work and vision is of tremendous value to the entire energy industry.

Daily Oil Bulletin’s Rising Stars Class of 2019 is a showcase event of the excellent work done by young emerging energy leaders.

Today, we profile Matthew Kielbasinski, Hammerhead Resources.

Click here to see this year's Class of Rising Stars.

In the heady days leading up to $142/bbl oil, Matthew Kielbasinski had more-or-less moved into his office at Tristone Capital in Calgary. He landed the job at the start of 2008, fresh out of Ontario’s McMaster University with a finance degree and after a few months of travelling, which he credits with expanding his world view.

“That trip opened my eyes to the fact that there is a big, exciting world out there, once you’re willing to step out of your familiar bubble, and take some risk,” he says.

Kielbasinski grew up with a strong sense of his Polish roots and a fascination with aviation and military history. He joined the Air Cadets when he was 13 and that led to becoming a Rifleman in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada from 2006 to 2009 while studying at university.

It happened to be a Rifleman connection that put him in touch with Tristone. Landing in Calgary at a time when the economy was firing on all cylinders was an eye opening experience. As was the financial crisis of September 2008, when it felt like someone had just turned the lights off.

In hindsight, this was an early introduction to the harsh realities of the volatile and cyclical nature of commodity markets. Those early years in Calgary convinced Kielbasinski that he wanted to remain in the oil and gas space but, ideally, as part of a tightly knit team on the producer side of the business.

So he took a position with Talisman and that led to Hammerhead Resources, where he’s been for the last seven years. Kielbasinski’s integrity and drive played an essential role in the private equity-backed company’s growth from emerging junior with less than 1,000 boe/d to its current intermediate status as a significant Montney producer of ~30,000 boe/d. “So much of my identity is tied to this shop. A lot of my life’s high-water marks happened here — I got married, have two kids now. It’s been a tremendous opportunity,” he says.

“Alongside a high quality team, we put our heads down to focus on growing the asset into what it is today, and as my life transitioned into family life, I’ve tried to find a better balance,” Kielbasinski says.

Striking the right work-life balance recently forced him to step back from some of his community work, which included volunteering with MitoCanada as Board Member and treasurer, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, mentoring a boy who was devastated by the loss of his sibling to mitochondrial disease.

“The [boy’s] parents put their son into the Big Brothers program to try and turn the switch back on and see their smiling, energetic and joyous child again. It was a total coincidence that I was matched with someone affected by mitochondrial disease, but it led me to be more involved with MitoCanada,” he says.

Kielbasinski credits his education in a Catholic high school and its annually mandated volunteering hours with introducing him at an early age to the value of participating in organized charity work. But with his second child born earlier this year, he says he needs to “be a dad for a little while” before he returns to volunteering.