Six-month review: Douglas Kris of Compass Minerals
Douglas Kris joined Compass Minerals in late December 2020, having previously held investor relations roles at Montage Resources and Eclipse Resources, as well as sell-side roles at KLR Group, Euro Pacific Capital and BMO Capital Markets.
What appealed to you about this role?
My corporate IR experience has been in exploration & production and energy. It wasn’t a huge sector switch to move to a different natural resources focus. But what appealed to me about the company is that it has a long-established track record of financial stability and operational excellence. The role also appealed to me. Being a department of one allows me to be part of a number of different areas outside of the traditional investor relations purview, including ESG, corporate communications, talking to the finance department and being involved with a lot of internal meetings .
Has the job lived up to your expectations so far?
Yes. Partially that’s due to the fact that there have been a number of events going on at the company since I joined. There was a relatively new management team that had some changes it wanted to make, which had been discussed publicly.
Over the course of the first six months, we’ve divested two businesses – one in Brazil and one in the US. We have also signed a collective bargaining agreement that was characterized as historic, given that it was for five years, so there were a lot of things going on at the company outside of the typical earnings process that I got lifted into on day one. Also, given the time of year I joined, we were just getting started on proxy season. We’d changed some compensation metrics and having had a short tenure with the company, that was a little more challenging. But it was good to work through as a new IRO.
What was it like to start a job during the pandemic, and while working remotely?
I was immersed in all of the different processes and departments of the company on day one – even prior to day one. Being involved with a lot of those colleagues and having meaningful discussions early was really valuable. Working on earnings, the proxy statement and our announcements meant I got to know people pretty quickly.
The company, and our CFO in particular, did a good job of lining up introductory meetings for me in the first week or so. It was helpful to build those relationships early.
What does your typical day look like?
It starts with me lining up what needs to be done on the to-do list, and then watching the to-do list grow as the hours go by. But it also changes on a daily basis because I might be shifting dramatically from an ESG meeting to an earnings release meeting to a corporate event news release meeting. Ultimately, I want to know I’ve moved the ball forward in a number of different areas so that I can feel accomplished at the end of the day.
What’s been the biggest challenge and the biggest highlight in the job so far?
The challenge is around being able to fit everything that needs to be done into a normal working day. Part of that is while we’re in this virtual realm: you can schedule meetings on Zoom, but it can be hard because people’s calendars fill up. In an in-person environment, you can ask quick questions by walking over to someone's office.
The biggest highlight has been around the evolution of the company, the asset divestitures we made and the change in strategic direction. That’s been great to witness and be a part of. It’s an exciting time for the company’s evolution and I’m glad I get to spread the message on what all this means to the underlying value of the company.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of IR Magazine. Click here to access the magazine.