T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone  Pickens
T. Boone Pickens
  • From:

    BP Capital | Dallas, Texas

  • Year:

    2009

  • Subject:

    Leadership

  • Award:

    Bower Award for Business Leadership

  • Citation:

    For more than 50 years of creative and visionary leadership in energy production and delivery, and his recent focus on domestic renewable energy. Pickens' philanthropic leadership has contributed to advances in education, medical research, and wildlife conservation.

T. Boone Pickens is one of the most-recognized names in American oil. Under his leadership, his first company, Mesa Petroleum, grew from a $5,000 start-up in 1956 into a multi-million dollar company and with numerous business successes, Pickens has become a trusted commentator on the global oil market and domestic energy sources. Additionally, his philanthropic efforts have affected thousands of lives, as he has generously made some of the largest donations many organizations have ever received.

Pickens was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Texas. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in geology in 1951. He worked for Phillips Petroleum for three years, and in 1956, he founded the company that would become Mesa Petroleum. Pickens has cited that an early skill at acquisition—taking over other kids' paper routes when he was 11, to be precise—served him well as Mesa Petroleum grew quickly and gained a name not only for successful oil wells, but for acquiring other, often quite large, businesses. In the process, he championed corporate accountability, insisting on management that responded to the interests of shareholders. Mesa is now one of the world's largest independent producers of oil and gas. Pickens left Mesa Petroleum in 1996 and formed Pickens Fuel Corporation in 1997 (now known as Clean Energy), the country's largest producer of natural gas car fuel. That same year, he also founded BP Capital Management, where he is actively involved with managing two hedge funds largely invested in oil and gas.

Recently, Pickens has focused on promoting alternatives to oil, including natural gas, wind and solar energy, and in 2008, introduced a new energy plan called the "Pickens Plan." With a heavy emphasis on wind —making use of the U.S. wind corridor across the Great Plains—and using natural gas to power cars, the Pickens Plan hopes to dramatically reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy. In addition to his lobbying efforts, he has been marketing the plan to the public, utilizing everything from newspapers to YouTube.

Beyond his business successes, the breadth of his philanthropy over the course of his career—more than $600 million—has been breathtaking, including such diverse causes as medical research, kids at risk, education and athletics, and wildlife conservation. He has made headlines with the size of some of his donations, including the largest individual contribution to the American Red Cross, $7 million, in 2005 and the largest gift for athletics in NCAA history, $165 million to Oklahoma State University that same year. In 2006, he founded the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, which funds a similarly broad range of grants.

Pickens' numerous awards include: the National Football Foundation's Distinguished American Award, the Horatio Alger Award, the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities National Partner award, INFORM's Corporate Environmental Leadership Award, and the Honda Environmental Citizen Award.

Information as of April 2009