2008 - T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens - 2008 Leadership Award Winner

A photo of Pickens wearing a suit and a gold tie.

Texas oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens founded Mesa Petroleum Co. in 1956. Mesa started with no oil and gas production and only $2,500 in capital. From 1956 - 1996, the period that Boone was CEO, the company produced more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas and 150 million barrels of oil. It was one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in addition to being known for its high profile corporate control contests for Cities Service, Gulf, Phillips and Unocal. His recently updated 1987 autobiography, Boone, was listed for 15 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List.

In the past two years, Boone’s predictions on oil and gas prices have been uncanny and, as a result, he has been a frequent guest on some of the nation’s most watched business programs. Boone grew up in Holdenville, a small eastern Oklahoma town. His father was in the oil business, and his mother ran the Office of Price Administration during World War II, rationing gasoline and other goods for four counties. Boone attributes much of his success to his mother and father.

Boone graduated as a geologist from Oklahoma State University in 1951 and started work with Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. After three and a half years, he struck out on his own as an independent geologist. From its inception, Mesa was at the forefront of change and innovation. Mesa's fitness program is a good example. Boone has long understood the benefits of physical fitness. Mesa’s fitness program has become a model for corporate America, and Mesa was the first company to be accredited by the Institute for Aerobics Research.

Upon leaving Mesa in 1996, Boone founded BP Capital with $37 million. With more than $4 billion under management today, BP Capital manages one of the nation’s most successful energy-oriented investment funds. Busier than ever today, Boone is also aggressively pursuing a wide range of other business interests, from water marketing and ranch development initiatives to Clean Energy, a company he founded and is the largest shareholder. That company is advancing the use of natural gas as a cleaner burning and more cost-effective transportation fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel.

Throughout his professional life, Boone has been a generous philanthropist. Boone’s 2005 giving – $220 million in all – earned him the fifth spot on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of top U.S. philanthropists. In recent years he has given more than $250 million to Oklahoma State University; $10 million to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to underwrite the Air Force One Pavilion; $6 million to the American Red Cross for hurricane disaster relief operations; and $3 million to the Oklahoma heritage Association. He has also made million-dollar-plus contributions to a wide-range of medical research institutions and treatment centers, including the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “I’m convinced the Lord put me in this life to make money, and be generous with it,” Boone has said.

(August 24, 2006)

Page last updated 2:37 PM, July 24, 2018