Topping the list of the Associated Press’s annual rankings, Tony Petrello is probably best known for being one of the highest-paid CEOs in the country. At age 62, this chairman and chief executive officer of Nabors Industries Ltd. earned a staggering $15,372,429 in 2016 thanks to a combination of salary and stock options.
Aside from being an achievement in their own right, Petrello’s impressive earnings are truly a sign of the success of his company, which he has built to be a shining beacon in the competitive oil and gas industry.
Humble Origins and Promising Beginnings
Tony Petrello came from inauspicious roots. Born in a working-class family in Newark, New Jersey, Petrello attended Yale University on a public school scholarship. There he showed significant promise in mathematics and graduated with BS and MS degrees in the subject before pursuing a law degree at Harvard Law School.
After graduating Harvard in 1979, he joined the law firm Baker & McKenzie and stayed there until 1991. By the time he left, Petrello was the Managing Partner of the firm’s New York office.
One of the firm’s clients, Nabors Industries, extended a job offer to Petrello in 1991, and he quickly became president and chief operating officer. By 2003, he was the Deputy Chairman of Nabors Industries and assumed his position as CEO in 2011.
About Nabors Industries
Nabors Industries is the owner of the world’s largest land-based drilling rig fleet. It provides drilling rigs to both land-based and off-shore operations worldwide.
The company is headquartered in Bermuda and Houston, Texas and has annual revenues of more than $2.2 billion in 2016. With 30,000 employees, the drilling contractor is one of the largest and most successful in the world and has helped to drive the growth of other companies in the oil and gas sector.
Nabors Industries was founded in 1952 and has a long history of setting trends in the oil business, from drilling the discovery well in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay Field to acquiring a number of large drilling operations and incorporating them under the Nabors name.
The company’s largest acquisition in history occurred in 2010, when it obtained Superior Well Services and its fracking technology. The growth of the company afterward, under Petrello’s leadership, has been phenomenal.
Tony Petrello has helped to bring Nabors Industries into the 21st Century and has played an active role in boosting its profits and growing its influence worldwide. One early and revolutionary change occurred in 2002, when he took the company offshore while acting as COO. He has also overseen many of the company’s most powerful and valuable acquisitions.
Over the last two decades, Petrello has helped the company’s share prices skyrocket by up to 180 percent
Over the past decade, Petrello has made a name for himself as the high-earning and highly successful CEO of the world’s largest drilling contractor. But his efforts in building the success of the Nabors Industries empire are just one part of the picture. Petrello is also committed to philanthropy, and his generous philanthropic efforts are a passion in his life.
One cause near and dear to Petrello’s heart is cerebral palsy, which affects his daughter Carena. Faced with many questions and difficulties about the road ahead when Carena was diagnosed, the Petrello family set about studying the condition and discovered that there were critical gaps in the research being done about developing brains.
To that end, he helped to fund the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital near his home in Houston, Texas. Thanks to a $50 million donation from the Petrellos, the Neurological Research Institute was able to open its doors in 2010.
Petrello is also a member of the Texas Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees and is active and passionate in his role.
Tony Petrello’s philanthropic efforts do not stop there, however. He also established an endowment of $150,000 with matching donations as an annual prize at Yale University. The endowment commemorates a long-time friend and mentor Serge Lang, a Yale math professor who passed away in 2016. The prize is designated to be awarded to individuals showing excellency in the field of mathematics.
Whether in his role as CEO or working on his commitments to philanthropy and research, Tony Petrello is well-deserving of the attention he’s received in recent years. Beyond his earnings, the country’s highest paid CEO is a symbol of the kind of hard work, dedication and lifelong passion that’s become nearly synonymous with the American Dream.