Casey NexTen -

The Next Generation of Resource Industry Titans


Casey Nexten - #8
Nolan Watson

From whiz kid prodigy to youthful CFO, to innovative CEO – that’s the Nolan Watson story. He’s compiled successes beyond his years since he burst onto the resource scene in 2001 and has a list of laudable charity efforts to boot.

Nolan Watson is one of the smartest, most driven young men you will ever meet. And that statement has been true since he graduated from the University of British Columbia at 19 years of age and headed to Deloitte & Touche. He quickly moved into the corporate finance department, performing business valuations and merger and acquisition support services. With that experience under his belt, he then left that firm to join Silver Wheaton Corp (T.SLW, NYSE.SLW) as controller and as Silver Wheaton's first employee.

Within a year Nolan was promoted to chief financial officer, making him the youngest-ever CFO of a NYSE-listed company at 26. Two years later, Nolan was part of the team that raised more than $1 billion in debt and equity to fund Silver Wheaton's acquisition needs. With him at the financial helm, guided by business legend Ian Telfer, who founded both Silver Wheaton and Gold Wheaton, SLW's market capitalization grew from C$300 million to C$3 billion.

In 2008, Nolan left Silver Wheaton, with the goal of replicating that success in other parts of the mining sector. Along with another Silver Wheaton alumnus, David Awram, Nolan founded Sandstorm Resources, a streaming company modeled on Silver Wheaton but not limited to silver. In 2009, he led Sandstorm in raising C$47 million, and in its first two years Sandstorm's share price nearly quadrupled.

Investors loved the low-risk royalty model where Sandstorm provides an upfront cash payment to a company that is building a mine, in exchange for the right to purchase a percentage of its future production at a set price. The deal is good for both parties: the company building the mine gets a nice chunk of change to help with development costs, and Sandstorm gets to buy commodities at set prices over long periods, giving it exposure to commodity price and exploration upsides without any concerns about cost increases or capital expenditures.

With things going well, in early 2010 Nolan decided to split the company into two parts. Sandstorm Metals & Energy (V.SND) focuses on streaming opportunities in the energy and base metal sectors, while Sandstorm Gold (V.SSL) searches out gold streams.

All of that, and the guy is only 33. No wonder Nolan was recognized as one of the "Most Motivated" CFAs in the world by CFA Magazine in 2008. He's won numerous other awards from professional and charitable institutions, including the Valedictorian of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia. Passionate about community development, he's also somehow found time, as founder and president of Nations Cry, to oversee the construction of schools for orphans in Sierra Leone, Africa.

His recipe for success is simple and straightforward: "I believe that one of the keys to succeeding in life, as well as the mining industry, is to combine enthusiasm, skill, and an extraordinary work ethic. That is what we do at Sandstorm every day."

We're convinced that for Nolan Watson, many great "every days" lie ahead.