Ward said he learned important life lessons during his recent struggle with SandRidge shareholders.
“It was a reminder that as a CEO, you work for the investors and they have the right to ask questions and to move forward the company how they see fit,” he said. “You're an at-will employee. I was no different from anyone else. It reminded me that in life, it's best to take an open-hand policy. If you grasp hold of things, it can be harder to let go. Knowing that when you come to work that you are an at-will employee and can leave at any time gives you an easier exit whenever that time comes.”
If he had to do it over again, Ward said he would focus more on communication.
“The way I think I could do something differently is to not be separated into camps where there's not much communication during a proxy fight,” he said. “I think the more open communication there is with all investors, the better.”
Ward said the issue at SandRidge focused on a low stock price, which has remained below $10 a share for much of the past three years.
“I was in somewhat of a unique position in that I made a lot of money at what I did. I was isolated out from others because of that. And our share price hadn't done very well in the last year before the activist investors were involved,” he said. “If we had a share price that would have gone up instead of down, I don't think there would have been the same issue we had. In my position, I was being fairly compensated in what I was doing. In the case of the company, we weren't progressing at a rate investors wanted us to. I look at it as their right to be able to let me go whenever they chose to.”
Through the process, Ward said he also learned to not take things personally.
“I think it's natural to have a feeling that things are becoming personal when they're really not,” he said. “There are usually reasons why an investor would question a company as to what they're doing and how they're doing it. Usually that would have to do with a share price that hasn't moved up.”
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