Chief Legal Officer of the Year: Cameron Proctor

Cameron Proctor
Photograph John Gaucher

In 2014, PrairieSky Royalty’s IPO changed the oil and gas industry landscape, sparking creative deals that lit up the sector. Last year, PrairieSky entered into more than 80 leasing arrangements with 57 different counterparties and used its pristine balance sheet to complete additional M&A transactions at a time when the industry was starving for capital. Since its IPO, PSK has tripled in size, creating what management refers to as a “true Canadian champion.” At the center of all that is Cam Proctor, who isn’t just the chief legal figure in the firm; he’s also the COO. “In an $8 billion market cap company, with a small executive team, everyone is expected to take on multiple roles,” Proctor says. Along with the legal role, Proctor handles the technical team and business development.

“We’ve had some amazing support from our shareholders over the past two and a half years, and being able to repay that support with good results is rewarding for our entire team.”

“I am a very hard worker, very organized, and very execution-oriented,” he says. “You can’t handle the volume and variety of issues I do on a day-to-day basis without having those attributes.”

Proctor cut his teeth at Calgary law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon, which was then a young and entrepreneurial outfit. “It was an intense environment, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to be working on multiple M&A deals and multiple financings concurrently,” Proctor says. “And I loved it.”

Proctor adds, “I loved the challenge. We had clients ranging from large integrated energy companies and banks to startups, and everything in between. Because we were so lean, I was doing work at an early stage that was probably uncommon at other firms. When I moved from being a service provider to the business side at Daylight Energy, I was given a new set of challenges and took on a mixed business and legal role. I was given a seat at the table and was involved in all the decisions.”

Proctor and his business partner, CEO Andrew Phillips, are both under the age of 40 and are both major investors in PrairieSky. “At PrairieSky we are a small, close-knit group, and we had a vision for this company when we were established in 2014,” Proctor says. Since then it’s completed two larger M&A deals, which Proctor describes as “once-in-a-generation type opportunities,” paid over $400 million in dividends and never taken a dollar in debt. “What is most satisfying is that despite the challenges we’ve faced, our team has stayed focused and committed to our core strategy, and we’re a stronger company today than we were at inception,” Proctor says. “We’ve had some amazing support from our shareholders over the past two and a half years, and being able to repay that support with good results is rewarding for our entire team.”

At the end of 2015, Proctor helped close a $1.8 billion cash-and-share deal with CNRL, in which the largest oil and gas producer in the country became a significant shareholder in PrairieSky. CNRL took $1.1 billion of stock, half of which they returned to their own shareholders. “I think this was a very thoughtful way for CNRL to unlock value for its royalty portfolio, while giving shareholders the ability to directly participate in the upside of a pure play royalty business like PrairieSky,” Proctor says.

“They also shared our vision for a consolidated pure play royalty business, and understood the value proposition that we held for investors,” he says. Another benefit of the deal, because of the way it was structured to redistribute stock to CNRL shareholders, gave PrairieSky exposure to what Proctor calls “a great group of shareholders who really understand the energy business.”

Looking to the future Proctor says, “We see more drilling activity, more capital available to the basin. When you have 15 million acres of land across Western Canada you don’t know when or where the next great play will develop, but as a PrairieSky shareholder you will have access to it, and that’s part of what makes us special.”

Getting Personal With Cameron Proctor

CLO and Corporate Secretary of PrairieSky Royalty

What is the most important quality that a senior executive can have? 
An ability to remove emotion from the decision making process.

What is the least important quality that a senior executive can have?
It really depends on the business and the company. One thing I’ve always found odd is when execs try and do jobs that are better suited to their staff, or, said another way, that their staff would do better.

Which living person do you admire most? 
There are a few people. They are mostly family and friends and they know why, including my wife. Right before I started at PrairieSky in 2014, my grandad passed away at the age of 96 and he was a giant in my life. He was my inspiration in pursuing a legal education. He had a mind like a steel trap, and was extremely quick-witted. He taught me the value of relationships, reputation and trust. If anyone ever makes a comparison between us, it’s a huge compliment and I am extremely proud to be part of his history.

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