Tony Petrello has gained a reputation as being one of the most able CEOs in the United States today. Which credentials that look more like those of a rocket scientist than a leader of a drilling company, Tony Petrello cuts an impressive jibe among the corporate world.
With a MS in mathematics from Yale as well as a Juris Doctor degree from Havard Law School, he did not know that he wanted to even pursue a life of corporate work until well after graduating from college. After working for famed law firm Baker McKenzie, he was approached by one of the clients with which he was working, Nabors Industries. Nabors Industries was undergoing extremely tough times. After decades of mismanagement, the company had entered into chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1988. By 1991, it was in receivership and its future was uncertain.
Petrello took over at the behest of the board of directors. Under his leadership the company generated spectacular results. The stock price went from approximately $0.50 per share, in 1991, too well over $50 per share by 2008, at which time the stock was split. The book value of the company went from $100 million, including all capital assets, to well over $17 billion under Petrello’s leadership.
This represented a phenomenal turnaround, the likes of which have rarely been seen in the corporate world. The famous investor Warren Buffet has an aphorism that says that when a good CEO takes over a bad company, only the company’s reputation will be left intact . In the case of Petrello, this was not true. Through his sheer talent, Petrello was able to completely reverse the course of a very bad company and turn it into one of the most competitive, lean and mean drilling conglomerates in the United States.
He decided to focus on the research, development and implementation of hi-tech drilling equipment that could turn hard oil reserves, traditionally found in shale and tar sand deposits, into highly profitable business opportunities.
This was the key decision that would lead Nabors Industries on to become the largest operator of land-based drilling sites and lessor of drilling equipment in the United States.