Senior Leadership

Senior Leadership

Our leadership team is comprised of professionals with significant experience developing, marketing, financing, and operating LNG and CCS projects around the world.

Mr. Matthew Schatzman

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Matthew (Matt) Schatzman was appointed Chief Executive Officer of NextDecade Corporation (NASDAQ: NEXT) on February 1, 2018. Mr. Schatzman was subsequently elected Chairman of the Board of Directors effective June 4, 2019. He joined the company as President and member of the Board of Directors on September 18, 2017. Mr. Schatzman has over 30 years of experience in the energy industry, including as Executive Vice President Global Energy Marketing and Shipping and member of the Group Executive Committee at BG Group where he was responsible for the company’s global marketing, trading and shipping activities for LNG, crude oil and natural gas. During his tenure at BG Group, Mr. Schatzman played a pivotal role in the success and growth of BG Group’s LNG business, transforming it into a global leader in flexible LNG supply and trading. Mr. Schatzman also held senior executive roles at Dynegy and started his career at Transco Pipeline, a subsidiary of Williams. In addition to managing an international portfolio of LNG, shipping, and commodity trading positions, Mr. Schatzman’s expertise extends to hedging, risk management and process improvement across a diverse portfolio of development and operating assets. Mr. Schatzman graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and is a member of the National Petroleum Council.

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Mr. Matthew Schatzman - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Ivan Van Der Walt

Chief Operating Officer
Ivan Van der Walt is Chief Operating Officer. In this role, he is responsible for all project management, engineering, construction, commissioning, and operations of NextDecade’s projects. Van der Walt has 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, including senior roles with CB&I (now McDermott) and Chevron. He also previously served as chief executive of the Australasian division of the KNM Group. Van der Walt has management experience on multiple LNG projects including Darwin LNG, Woodside LNG Train 5, Pluto LNG, Gorgon LNG and Cameron LNG. He has provided dynamic and motivational leadership with a demonstrated ability to deliver results in diverse and challenging business environments and has successfully managed cross-country pipelines and compressor station projects in support of the LNG and power industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology.

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Mr. Ivan Van Der Walt - Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Brent Wahl

Chief Financial Officer
Brent Wahl was appointed Chief Financial Officer of NextDecade effective February 1, 2021. He joined the company as Senior Vice President, Finance, in June 2019. In his role as Chief Financial Officer, Wahl is responsible for NextDecade’s financing activities, financial management and accounting processes. He also oversees all financing activities related to NextDecade’s projects. Prior to joining NextDecade, Wahl was a Senior Managing Director and Head of Midstream Investment Banking for North America at Macquarie Capital. Wahl has more than 20 years of experience in the banking and energy industries, having also worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America. Wahl has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.

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Mr. Brent Wahl - Chief Financial Officer

Ms. Vera De Brito de Gyarfas

General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Vera de Gyarfas joined NextDecade as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in July 2021 and is responsible for all legal and contractual matters affecting NextDecade. De Gyarfas is a skilled corporate attorney with more than 28 years of experience in the areas of energy and natural resources, LNG, general corporate law, contract negotiations, negotiations with host governments, and mergers & acquisitions . Prior to joining NextDecade, de Gyarfas was a partner in Mayer Brown’s Houston office and a member of the Oil & Gas industry group. Previously, she was a partner at King & Spalding and worked with the firm for a total of eight years in the global transactions practice group. De Gyarfas was also a partner at Travieso, Evans, Arria, Rengel & Paz, a large Venezuelan law firm with a strong focus in general corporate, tax, labor, litigation, administrative, regulatory, alternative dispute resolution, and environmental areas. De Gyarfas was recognized as a 2016 Women in Energy Honoree by Texas Lawyer, is ranked in the Legal 500 2019 Power list as an expert in Mexico’s energy sector, and is ranked in Chambers Global 2020 for Energy and Natural Resources as an expert in the US for Venezuela. She was also recommended in Legal 500 Latin America 2018, and listed as a leading practitioner in the International Who’s Who of Oil and Gas Lawyers 2018. De Gyarfas holds a JD from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (Venezuela), and a Master of Laws, from University of Houston.  She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and is a frequent author and speaker on energy topics. 

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Ms. Vera De Brito de Gyarfas - General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Mr. James MacTaggart

Chief Marketing Officer
James MacTaggart is Chief Marketing Officer of NextDecade Corporation (NASDAQ: NEXT), and is based in Singapore. MacTaggart has over 25 years of experience delivering large and complex deals in the LNG and natural gas industry, working across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. He has executed long term LNG sale and purchase agreements supporting positive final investment decisions on four greenfield LNG projects. He recently executed the first LNG contract supplying LNG from the United States, indexed to oil, and delivered the first LNG sales into the Middle East and first equity LNG lifting agreements. Before joining NextDecade, MacTaggart served more than 20 years with Shell in various marketing and trading positions, with his last role as General Manager of Shell’s New Gas and LNG Markets business in Asia, India, and the Middle East. During his tenure, he also set up Shell’s gas trading business in India. MacTaggart completed his undergraduate studies in classical and modern Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and holds an M.B.A. with distinction from Cass Business School.

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Mr. James MacTaggart - Chief Marketing Officer

Mr. Patrick Hughes

Senior Vice President, Carbon Solutions
Patrick Hughes is Senior Vice President, Carbon Solutions, responsible for developing carbon business opportunities and executing commercial transactions. A wholly owned subsidiary of NextDecade, NEXT Carbon Solutions is committed to reducing global CO2 emissions by advancing proprietary processes to lower the cost of utilizing carbon capture and storage technology at industrial-scale facilities around the world. Prior to assuming his current role, Hughes was NextDecade’s Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development. Before joining NextDecade in September 2017, Hughes spent eleven years in sell-side research and investment banking roles. Hughes was a Partner in the Investment Banking and Advisory (IBA) group at Height Capital Markets, where he focused exclusively on the energy and industrials sectors and he and his team were widely recognized as leading financial advisors in the global LNG marketplace. He was previously a senior associate in the energy and natural resources equity research group at FBR Capital Markets. Prior to his financial services industry experience, Hughes facilitated projects in Middle Eastern countries for a Washington-based strategic communications contractor and served as a case manager for a business intelligence and corporate security firm. Hughes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy and Mandarin Chinese from Georgetown University.

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Mr. Patrick Hughes - Senior Vice President, Carbon Solutions

Mr. Michael Mott

Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy
Michael R. Mott was appointed Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy of NextDecade effective June 9, 2021. His role as SVP, Corporate Strategy supports the Board of Directors and management team in developing, coordinating and executing NextDecade’s strategic direction in realizing its vision and mission. Mott has significant strategy, finance, operations, and risk management experience spanning the entire energy industry value chain. Prior to joining NextDecade, his previous roles included leadership positions working in start-up, scaled growth, and mature stage businesses in both domestic and international marketplaces. Most recently, Mott worked as Chief Financial Officer of LNG Limited from 2014 to 2020. Prior to his position at LNG Limited, he was employed by BG Group where he held a number of senior strategy, finance and operations roles leading business execution in BG’s Global LNG business in upstream, midstream and downstream businesses in the American hemisphere, and as Senior Vice President – Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) with responsibility for BG Group’s global workforce. From 1995 to 2003, Mott held progressively senior risk management and accounting roles for Dynegy Inc., becoming Senior Vice President – Chief Accounting Officer and Controller from 2001 to 2003. He spent thirteen years with Price Waterhouse LLP before joining Dynegy with a focus on multi-national energy majors as well as North American upstream independents.

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Mr. Michael Mott - Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy

Mr. Kevin Beasley

Senior Vice President, Gas Supply and Commercial Operations
Kevin Beasley was appointed Senior Vice President, Gas Supply and Commercial Operations, on May 1, 2019. Beasley has more than 25 years of energy industry experience in natural gas, NGL, and LNG supply and logistics. Prior to joining NextDecade, Beasley was Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Advantage Midstream, a services company focused on GTL projects in North America. He was also Senior Vice President, Marketing and Trading, of Twin Eagle Resource Management, where he managed the crude oil and NGL businesses. At Trafigura, Beasley successfully developed and later sold to Buckeye Partners LP a deepwater shipping terminal, condensate splitter, and storage complex in Corpus Christi. In the physical gas and NGLs division of BG Group, Beasley was responsible for developing and implementing BG Group’s merchant business strategy, including risk management and scheduling systems. Over the course of his career, Beasley has also held roles of increasing importance with Texaco, Enron, and Reliance Holdings. Beasley has a Business Management degree from Texas A&M University – Kingsville.

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Mr. Kevin Beasley - Senior Vice President, Gas Supply and Commercial Operations

Ms. Raquel Couri

Senior Vice President, Human Resources & Administration
Raquel Couri joined NextDecade in January 2018 and is a senior human resources executive with more than 15 years of international experience with a focus on the energy sector. Couri is responsible for resourcing the company through its various development stages, ensuring NextDecade remains an employer of choice for leading professionals in the energy industry. Prior to NextDecade, Couri was the Head of Human Resources for both BG Group’s Houston office and its Global Energy Marketing and Shipping business in locations across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Before moving to Houston, Couri led the human resources function for BG Group’s upstream asset division in Brazil. Couri has an Executive MBA in General Business Management from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and a B.A. in Psychology from Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF).

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Ms. Raquel Couri - Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration

Mr. Daniel Werner

Senior Vice President, LNG Marketing – Europe and Americas
Daniel Werner joined NextDecade in January 2019 with more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, and a strong background in commercial, financial, technical, and regulatory areas. Werner identifies and develops opportunities to sell LNG into European and Americas markets, managing and negotiating SPAs for NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project in South Texas. Highly experienced in commercial structuring and contract negotiation, Werner has worked in the LNG industry since 1999 and has lived and worked in several countries around the world. Prior to joining NextDecade, Werner was a Senior Vice President with GNL Quebec, leading pre-FEED, FEED, and EPC functions for a planned 10.5 mtpa liquefaction and export facility. Before that, Werner served in senior management roles – mostly in commercial roles – with Delfin LNG, Golar LNG, BG Group, and Sempra. Following completion of undergraduate engineering studies, Werner earned an MBA in finance and marketing from Loyola University of Chicago.

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Mr. Daniel Werner - Senior Vice President, LNG Marketing – Europe and Americas

Dr. Ping Lee

Senior Vice President, LNG Marketing – China and Southeast Asia
Ping Lee joined NextDecade in June 2018 and leads the company’s Beijing office. He brings significant experience to the role, in which he is responsible for NextDecade’s LNG marketing activities in China and Southeast Asia. Lee has more than 25 years of industry experience. He is the former President and Asset General Manager of BG Group, China, a position he held until 2016. Lee was instrumental in building BG Group’s commercial and E&P interests; before its acquisition by Shell, BG Group had become China’s largest LNG supplier. Prior to his time with BG Group, Lee held positions of increasing management responsibilities with Schlumberger, ultimately serving as Area President of Schlumberger from 2007 until 2011. He began his career with Schlumberger as a Research Scientist in 1990 in Austin, Texas. Lee holds masters and doctorate degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics, respectively, from Cornell University. He completed his undergraduate studies at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Lee serves on the Board of Directors of Cornerstone Bank in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Dr. Ping Lee - Senior Vice President, LNG Marketing – China and Southeast Asia

Mr. Ariel Handler

Senior Vice President, Finance and Market Analysis
Ariel Handler was appointed Senior Vice President, Finance and Market Analysis, in August 2021. He brings strong experience in economic analysis, valuation, strategy and planning. Prior to joining NextDecade, Handler served as Manager of Strategic Planning at Apache Corporation where he played a key role in developing Apache’s short- and long-term term financial and operational plans, capital allocation strategy, and portfolio and scenario analysis. Shortly before his departure, Handler oversaw all of Apache’s planning activities in the Permian, Midcontinent (Scoop/Anadarko Basin), and Gulf Coast regions. Handler holds a B.A. degree with Honors in Mathematical Economic Analysis from Rice University.

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Mr. Ariel Handler - Vice President, Finance and Market Analysis

Mr. Eric Garcia

Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer
Eric Garcia was appointed Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer in July 2017. Garcia was previously an audit managing director with KPMG LLP, where he spent 15 years serving companies in the LNG, oil and gas, and power and utilities industries. Garcia received his BBA degree from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. He is a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and New Mexico and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Mr. Eric Garcia - Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer