Tony Petrello: Unlikely Lawyer and CEO

Never bet against the ability of a brilliant person to rise to the top. When Anthony Petrello was just an undergraduate mathematics student at Yale University, it was evident to everyone who knew him that the young man was one of the sharpest knives in the draw. After completing his BS degree, he then achieved his MS and became a protégé of eminent mathematician Professor Serge Lang. Everyone at Yale figured that Tony would go on to follow in the footsteps of his renowned mentor. There was never a hint of a different career path. Tony Petrello was not only an excellent mathematician; he loved math. Many were taken by surprise when he enrolled at Harvard Law.

Indeed, he possessed the brain power to excel as a lawyer. Tony Petrello completed his JD in 1979. As a highly coveted graduate of Harvard law, the distinguished law firm of Baker & McKenzie swiftly employed him. Mr. Petrello proved that his brilliance extended beyond the field of mathematics, he also excelled in the law. In 1986, the firm made him the managing partner of the New York office. Attorney at law, Anthony Petrello served in that capacity until 1991. He left Baker & McKenzie to accept a job offer from one of the firms big clients, Nabors Industries of Houston, Texas. Nabors Industries is an oil rig contractor. The company is a giant player in the global oil industry. With over 15,000 employees and valuation on the New York Stock Exchange of over $2 billion.

Mr. Petrello was hired as the company’s COO in 1991 but has since become the boss, the CEO, and chairman of the board. Between 2003 and 2013 he functioned as Nabors’ deputy chairman. Then in 2011, he was promoted to CEO and finally CEO and chairman of the board of directors in 2012. Mr. Petrello, now 62-years-old has proven to be an insightful executive who has caused Nabors Industries to flourish. His success has resulted in the usual monetary rewards which prominent American CEOs have come to expect. In 2014, CEO Tony Petrello made the AP list of top compensated bosses, collecting $27,512,939. Much more than the most brilliant math professor could ever hope to earn. Nabors Industries altered executive compensation that year to give more of the company’s profits to its shareholders. If not for the readjustment, Mr. Petrello would have been the highest paid CEO in America that year.

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