Gaurdie Banister Jr.

“When leaders lead then people live”

“In any organization, people are not assets. They ARE the organization. Without them the organization simply cannot exist.”


Gaurdie E. Banister Jr retired as President and CEO of Aera Energy LLC (an oil and gas exploration and production company jointly owned by Shell Oil Company and ExxonMobil) in August 2015 having served in the position since 2007. Aera is one of the largest California and U.S. oil producers with production of over 130.000 barrels per day and operating over 14,000 wells. Aera is a recognized leader in the oil and gas industry for its innovative approach to lean manufacturing in an oil field setting.

Banister currently serves on three public company boards. He has been a Director of Tyson Foods Inc. since 2011 (NYSE: TSN) and is their Lead Independent Director and Chairman of the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee. He has been a director of Marathon Oil Company (NYSE: MRO) since 2015 serving on the audit and HSE committees. He joined the Bristow Group board in 2017 (NYSE: BRS) where he serves on the compensation committee.

In January 2018 he joined the board of Russell Reynolds Associates a private Executive Advisory and Search Firm.

Active in the academic and non-profit arenas Banister serves as a trustee of his alma mater, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Foundation and is a trustee of American University in Washington, DC. He is a member of the board of directors of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation based in Bethesda, Maryland and The First Tee of Greater Houston.

Banister began his career with Shell in 1980 and has worked in California, Louisiana, Texas and Singapore. Along with his global exploration and production experience,Bannister has worked in strategic planning, information technology, and acquisitions.

Banister holds a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and in 2007 the university awarded Banister an honorary doctorate degree. Banister also received an honorary doctorate degree in 2002 from Fort Valley State University in Georgia.

Gaurdie is a native of Casper, Wyoming and is married with two children.


Truth…Beyond Intellectual, A Lifestyle

There have been times when I’ve come into situations in which the numbers didn’t match the message. I can appreciate the impulse to keep the peace, and however well intended, these actions can lead to inaccuracies and intellectual debates that set us on a path toward trouble. Of course, there are delicate situations in which uncomfortable truths are better shared in private to maintain levels of dignity and respect in the moment. In fact, I highly value alternative points of view; each brings an opportunity to peer through an additional lens. These become “windows to understanding” that support a clearer and more accurate picture, that ultimately serves our success.

In business, we thrive with accurate measurements and numbers that add up. When teams want the truth, they work with reality. Sometimes, moving toward truth may require courage, yet it is ultimately liberating. When we share this value, great things can come of it.

Measure > Set Goals > Focus > Follow-through

This sounds simple. It is not. It is both an internal, personal discipline, as well as an external commitment to a rigor that takes responsibility for accuracy, corrections and follow-through over time. My teams have clarified and then created significant performance advances by applying this formula. There is also distinct satisfaction that comes from knowing your success is real, and that together, you accomplished something that will last.


Working in a big company, on various boards, and across vast and diverse regions, while having a family, has taught me the necessity of prioritization. It is easy to get distracted by the unnecessary-but-attractive. Across the board, knowing what is most important helps eliminate the clutter of “all that is possible” and clears a path for laser-focus, and full attention. Clear priorities start with clear values; then choices become simple. This kind of living and working is gratifying, allowing us to commit fulling in our minds…in our connections, our work, to our loved ones, and to the moments that add up to our lives.

Work To Live…Value Life

Those who’ve worked with me can tell you, I work hard. I’ve been accused of being driven, and have certainly worked my share of long, grueling stretches of time. In a global world with connections in all time-zones, schedules can get pretty demanding. I’ve not saying I’ve got this one down… However, I am clear about three things: 1)1 family is the foundation I stand on…It starts with my roots and the legacy that my parents passed along to me from each of their ancestral lines. No matter what’s happening on the surface of those family relations, we’ve always been there for each other, and we all know that. 2) Being family-centered, I always come back to home base to get recharged. I treasure my personal and family time all the more, having kept such schedules. 3) I respect and encourage personal wellbeing and fulfillment for those that I touch. And it is my sincere hope that this foundation will strengthen the ground for my own children and future generations.

Stay Positive…Say What You Want

A long time ago, I learned that “the brain imprints positives; and does not interpret negatives.” On some level, I knew that…if a child is climbing on a chair, you say, “be steady, be careful.” Avoid saying, “Don’t fall!”… a sure-fire way to make falling likely. Understanding the power of words on thinking and actions has become a humbling responsibility and commitment. In Asia Pacific, we imagined everyone under our leadership going home every day, “Alive and Healthy.” I have brought the same message to Aera and have made it clear that I want every day for everybody to go home Alive and Well. This thinking started as a discipline to ask myself, “What do I want?” compared to what I don’t want. Specifically… “What is the proactive message?” Eventually it’s become a thinking habit. Most important, I believe it makes a different in the health, safety and wellbeing of others.

Treat People As They Want To Be Treated; Rather Than How I Want To Be Treated

Working and living in different parts of the world has taught me this modification of the “golden Rule.” People are different in many ways…they have different learning styles, personality patterns, leadership approaches; different cultural patterns, family backgrounds, professional experience and vantages…It takes some work to treat another as s/he wants to be treated. Time must be invested to develop understanding of others, rather than assuming people are like oneself. Leading people will never be easy, but I believe it is much easier when one genuinely takes the time to understand them

Step Back And Consider The Big Picture

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Always remember that everything is connected to everything else.” I believe that is true when we step back and reflect to get perspective. The energy business, for example, is global. And it is interconnected with other industries. We are directly connected to the planet, and we fuel life. Our future energy solutions are also interconnected. If we feel like we are in separate camps, we have only to step back a bit further, and look again…and we will begin to notice the connections and possibilities


Over the years, I’ve grown to understand how this serves my own learning style. I often feel a surge of energy in reaction to something I’d heard or seen. Along the way, I learned to pause…then to pause and reflect…and eventually, that reflection time became rich with mature understanding, and deeper meanings. To reflect is to pause; to listen to one’s own subtle intelligence, and to allow one’s own thinking to mature, and consider other views. What started as an inner discipline has matured into a way of being…and has yielded good results: pitfalls avoided, people included, and subtle-yet-valuable indicators noticed


I have spent most of my life with a high degree of spirituality and honestly do no know what it would be like not to have it. The idea of being part of a greater purpose, and being placed where I am, to do what I am to do…is both refreshing and invigorating. Taking time in solitude is a healthy way to refresh my character; it keeps me both cleansed and peaceful. I support everyone’s own unique spiritual practice


Gaurdie the energy industry and the community.

News & Headlines

Recent articles and stories featuring Gaurdie Banister Jr.

Gaurdie Banister joins Dow board

Corporate Board Member | August, 2020

Pink Petra & Allies interviews: How Black Lives Matter in Energy

Corporate Board Room |2020

Corpprate Board Room : How Black Lives Matter: This time can be different.

Corporate Board Member |2020

The Novel Coronavirus Requires Classic Crisis Management

Corporate Board Member | 2020

Deep Safety: What Boards Should Learn from Deepwater Horizon

Corporate Board Member | 2020

True Influence: Holding Management Accountable for Culture

Corporate Board Member | 2019

Gaurdie Banister Joins Russell Reynolds Associates’ Board of Directors

Press Release | March 6, 2018

Marathon names upstream veteran to board

United Press International | September 24, 2015

Gaurdie Banister elected to Marathon Oil Corporation Board of Directors

Marathon Oil Corp | September 23, 2015

Gaurdie E. Banister, Jr. steps down as President and CEO of AERA Energy LLC

KERO ABC 23 | April 16, 2015

CEO calls for new commitment to equality at King breakfast

Bakersfield Californian | January 20, 2014

Tyson Foods Selects Gaurdie E. Banister, Energy Company CEO As Board Member

Tyson Foods | November 17, 2011

The Agenda Diversity 100

Agenda Week | September 2010

National Men’s Health Week

Bakersfield Magazine | July 2009

A Conversation On Energy

Black Enterprise Magazine | July 2009

Health Matters

Bakersfield Magazine | September 9, 2008

Gaurdie Banister Joins Aera As President And CEO

Black Enterprise Magazine | July 1, 2008

CEO Profile: Gaurdie E. Banister Jr., Aera Energy LLC | April 22, 2008

Perspectives On Leadership: Breaking Barriers

Forbes | April 20, 2007
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