Biography for Laura Starks
Laura Starks was born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in northern Oklahoma, and now lives in Texas. She earned a chemical engineering bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Tulane University, in New Orleans, on full scholarship. After a year of engineering at the now-400,000 barrel-per-day Whiting, Indiana refinery, she completed a finance MBA on partial scholarship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in five quarters rather than the usual six. While there, she played for a women's intramural basketball team, the Efficient Mockettes.
Starks worked for Amoco, ARCO, and predecessors of Valero in engineering, marketing, and finance. She also worked for engineering firm Muse Stancil on projects for well-known national and international energy companies. Through Starks Energy Economics, LLC (SEE), she consults on public-company investments and risk management in the energy business.
One of Starks' responsibilities at ARCO was designing global crude quality software used in multi-billion-dollar capital budgets. The model accurately predicted crude oil price differentials by year, type, and region, and was applied by twelve departments for projects such as Latin American crude and upgrading investment, tax analysis, licensing export of heavy crude to Asia, and evaluation of domestic capital expenditures. Other career highlights included preparing bids on crude/product storage terminals totaling $250 MM; implementing a new strategy of direct sales to gas end-users resulting in $8MM in sales; making traditional gas sales of over $40 MM/year, and presenting the initial plan for a $400 MM master limited partnership, which later traded on the NYSE.
Starks has a parallel vocation as a high-stakes thriller author. Her books, one of which received the Texas Association of Authors' 2014 award for best mystery/thriller, are 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy (Brown Books) and Strike Price, (Nemaha Ridge Publishing). Starks' author website is lastarksbooks.com. Her nonfiction articles have been published in Mystery Readers Journal, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, Oil and Gas Journal, and the investor website Seeking Alpha (see list of free Seeking Alpha articles). She is also co-inventor of a US patent.
Groups to which she has spoken, usually for members' professional education credit, include COPAS (Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies), Dallas Association of Financial Professionals, DFW Institute of Management Accountants, Investment Network, PMI (Project Management Institute), the University of Tulsa, and the University of Texas-Dallas.
Starks has run sixteen half-marathons. She served as development co-chair, investment oversight chair, and treasurer of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, a fund-raising and advocacy group supporting Dallas' 28-branch civic library system.