A native of San Antonio, Chris Staffel grew up thinking she wanted to be a professional singer. After mastering regional theater and a classical tour throughout Russia and Eastern Europe she got tired of living out of a suitcase and put down roots in New York City. The daily grind of auditions drove her to producing. “I realized I enjoyed the business part of it, equally, if not more than acting.”
While she was producing The Dutchman she met two businessmen who were starting a midstream company. “What’s midstream?” She retells it now, laughing. As it turns out, acting and producing isn’t far off from starting and running a company. “You have to raise the capital, hire actors, market the show, and of course… perform.”
But, she adds, “If you would have told me years ago that I’d be building companies for natural gas pipeline infrastructure, I would have never believed you. I went to a music conservatory in Chicago for my undergraduate degree, followed by an M.F.A. in musical theater and then moved to New York to pursue musical theater. I’ve now started three companies in the midstream energy space.”
Even before moving to Houston, she sat in on some classes at Rice and was sold on earning an MBA. “It’s been excellent. I’ve learned so much… The network is incredible.”
Since the sale of Penntex in November, she is curious about the next global opportunities on the horizon in energy and plans to travel to various emerging markets after graduation. “I want to see where the next possibilities are.”
Her most immediate “next possibility” is singing the national anthem at Investiture, the business school’s hooding ceremony for MBAs on the eve of her graduation.