Mary Johnson

HERWorld18: How Danielle Hunter became the first female executive officer at C&J Energy Services

Blog Post created by Mary Johnson on Mar 12, 2018

Danielle Hunter cartoonWhen Danielle Hunter was charged with helping lead the Chapter 11 financial restructuring of C&J Energy Services in 2016, she said it often felt like a fight for survival.


It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through,” Danielle says. “It required intense physical, mental and emotional fortitude to achieve the right outcome for C&J and our stakeholders.”


Danielle — executive vice president, general counsel and chief risk and compliance officer of C&J Energy Services, a leading Houston-based provider of U.S. onshore well services for oil and gas exploration and production companies — is proud to have helped see more than 4,500 employees keep their jobs by helping to guide C&J through the historic industry downturn and a successful financial restructuring.  C&J Energy Services emerged from Chapter 11 in January 2017 strongly positioned for long-term success and ready to take advantage of broadening opportunities as the market began to recover — just in time for the company's 20th anniversary.


After graduating from Tulane University Law School in 2006, Danielle worked as a judicial clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Tucker Melancon in the Western District of Louisiana. She then joined Vinson & Elkins as an associate in the corporate group in 2007.


She came to C&J Energy Services in 2011 and served as the vice president of compliance and assistant general counsel. In July 2011, the then 400-person company went public. After handling many acquisitions and strategic transactions and implementing governance and compliance policies and training programs, among other initiatives and responsibilities, Danielle was promoted to her current position in 2016 at the age of 34, becoming one of the youngest general counsels for a public company in the industry and the first female executive officer at C&J Energy Services.


With a “battlefield” promotion, she took on the role of general counsel during one of the most challenging times for the energy industry, and the darkest time in C&J’s history.  C&J Energy Services had taken on significant debt to finance a transformative merger transaction that was negotiated during an industry high but closed as the commodity process deteriorated rapidly during the industry downturn.


Just one month after her unexpected promotion and the shake-up of the former executive management team, C&J Energy Services filed for Chapter 11.  C&J Energy Services emerged financially stable just six months later, in January 2017, having eliminated nearly $1.5 billion of debt and expense.


We emerged right as the market was starting to turn, and while we still had many internal and external challenges to face, we were well positioned to take advantage of the recovery,” Danielle recalls.


During the first half of 2017, among other corporate objectives, Danielle helped complete the reorganized company’s initial public offering with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.


As general counsel, Danielle now leads a team of 11 other professionals (including nine attorneys) with responsibility for providing critical, solutions-oriented and results-focused guidance on the legal, risk and compliance aspects of the business, balancing the dual imperatives of company performance and corporate integrity.


An admitted and happy workaholic and obsessive foodie, Danielle enjoys Houston’s thriving restaurant scene, a hobby she tries to balance with a workout routine now mostly consisting of yoga and Pilates. She used to be an avid runner.


Danielle serves as an executive sponsor and advisory board member of C&J Energy Services Women’s Initiative, of which she is also a founding member.  


“I have often seen women struggle with a lack of confidence in their own abilities — women who are given a certain role and an opportunity to step into something bigger, but they struggle with how to own it,” she says.