David L. Porges / EQT Corp. Chairman, President and CEO

What drives you up the wall? "Decisions that are made without factual, data-driven analysis, whether inside the company or outside, such as the circulation of information about the natural gas industry that is based on speculation and hearsay, as opposed

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On the evening of Dec. 19, 2012, David Porges called Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett with some news: His company was planning to sell its Equitable Gas utility arm to Peoples Natural Gas for $720 million.

The deal, announced to the public the next morning and awaiting approval from federal regulators, would narrow EQT's focus to the natural gas drilling and processing that has taken top priority for the Downtown-based company since Mr. Porges took the top job in 2010.

"I have a very clear mission and vision for EQT, why it exists and where it's going," he said.

The Equitable sale is the biggest step yet toward defining that company mission for Mr. Porges, who started at EQT in 1998 as a senior vice president and chief financial officer. It's a move that redefines the company's priorities and could shape Mr. Porges' legacy at the company.

Mr. Porges said he views leadership as "the courage of one's convictions and faith in one's ability to analyze a situation to determine the best course of action."

His time running the company has been marked by a three-step approach to leadership:

• Use objective analysis to develop fact-based opinion.

• Acknowledge that some ideas don't work out, and learn from those mistakes.

• Hire the best people and get out of the way.

EQT is a publicly traded company, so much of Mr. Porges' focus is on long-term shareholder value, but he's also tried to create an in-house culture of stakeholders. Every employee at EQT is eligible for annual bonuses -- a drastic change from when he joined the company and less than 5 percent were.

In the case of the Equitable sale, Mr. Porges led a team trying to piece together a complicated transaction of money and assets that needed to be approved by regulators and palatable to both firms.

"Throughout that process, I was aware that the right answer might turn out to be an admission of defeat, and moving on," he said. "That prospect did not cause us to stop trying to find a deal that worked for all of us."


-- Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455


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