Private Equity Panel Lead by Geoffrey Strong, Leslie Golden,  Eric Gilje, Patrick Verdonck, Rob Rusk, and Roger Huang.

Risks and opportunities across the broader sector (eg. OFS, upstream, downstream, midstream)?  How receptive are investment committees to energy today / what are the key concerns? Differences in valuation approach across credit and equity investors. The case for and against “energy” as an asset class. What are some big lessons from the last two years?  Opportunities to improve value in a “lower-for-longer” environment? 


Geoffrey Strong (WG ’06)
Apollo Management, L.P.
Partner, Natural Resources

Mr. Strong joined Apollo in 2012. Prior to that time, Mr. Strong was a Principal in the Private Equity group at Blackstone, where he focused primarily on investments in the energy sector. Before joining Blackstone, Mr. Strong was a Vice President of Morgan Stanley Capital Partners, the private equity business within Morgan Stanley. Mr. Strong serves of the boards of directors of Caelus Energy, Apex Energy and Double Eagle Energy. Mr. Strong graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. from Western Oregon University, graduated cum laude with a J.D. from Lewis & Clark College, and graduated with an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.




Managing Director, Ridgewood Energy

Leslie Wolff Golden is the Head of Investor Relations for Ridgewood Energy, responsible for fundraising, marketing and communications.  Since 2012, Ridgewood has raised more than $3 billion for its funds focused on the exploration and development of oil projects in the U.S. deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Leslie is a seasoned investment professional with over 25 years of private equity, investment banking, and capital markets experience.  Prior to joining Ridgewood in 2000, she was one of the founding members of the Latin American Merchant Banking Group at Banc of America Securities (formerly NationsBanc Montgomery) where she played an integral role investing and managing the firm’s proprietary private equity positions in the region.  Previously, Ms. Golden spent five years at Bankers Trust structuring and executing financings and mergers & acquisitions.  She started her career at Lehman Brothers in equity capital markets. Leslie received a B.S. and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.



Erik Gilje is an Assistant Professor of Finance at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focus is on empirical corporate finance, energy finance, and entrepreneurial finance. His work explores the interconnection between energy, financial frictions, and the real economy. He has received research support from the Kauffman Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and the Kauffman Foundation Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research. He has published or forthcoming papers in the Journal of Finance, and the Review of Financial Studies. Prior to academia Erik worked at ExxonMobil and Citigroup, and co-founded Oseberg, Inc., an Energy Tech/Big Data start-up. Erik pursued his PhD studies at Boston College and has an undergraduate degree in engineering from Cornell University.



Mr. Verdonck is a Principal at Starwood Energy and is responsible for making principal investments in the power sector. He was actively involved in the acquisition of Quail Run and Berlin Station. In addition, Mr. Verdonck held an observer role on the board of Nautilus Solar Energy and has worked on several  transmission development projects.

Prior to joining Starwood Energy, Mr. Verdonck was an investment banker in  Citigroup’s London-based Energy Power and Chemicals team where he worked on M&A and financing transactions throughout Europe as well as the Middle-East and South Asia. Prior to Citigroup, Mr. Verdonck was a corporate strategy analyst in the Bangkok office of Tractebel EGI (now GDF Suez), one of the largest utilities in the world.

Mr. Verdonck started his career as an oil & gas lawyer with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London. Mr. Verdonck holds an M.B.A from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Law degree from the Catholic University of Leuven.



Mr. Rusk is Co-Founder and Partner, and primarily responsible for originating, structuring and executing investment transactions as well as managing the Senior Advisory Board and the co-investment syndication process. Rob is Chair of the Valuation Committee and a member of the Management Committee and the Investment Committee. Prior to co-founding Orion Energy, Mr. Rusk was a Founding Partner and Managing Director of Cypress Associates, a middle-market investment banking advisory firm based in New York. He has over 30 years’ experience in leveraged finance, M&A, leveraged buyouts, capital markets, private equity, distressed investing and restructuring, and has led teams executing energy focused transactions in excess of $30 billion. Mr. Rusk received a B.A. from Hamilton College and a M.B.A. from the Wharton School Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He has been qualified as an expert in leveraged finance in federal bankruptcy court. Mr. Rusk is a member of the Board of Directors of Goodway Technologies Corporation and a member of the Advisory Board of Schultze Asset Management, as well as several other industry and charitable boards and associations.


Prior to joining CPP Investment Board, Roger was a Vice President at First Reserve in the Hong Kong office, having started in the Houston office in 2006.  In between his time at First Reserve, he also spent a year at Remora Energy, a private equity backed energy company.  Roger started his career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Financial Sponsor/Leveraged Acquisition Finance group in New York.

Roger holds a Master’s of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated with high honors.