University of Tennessee

T. Boone Pickens talks success with Haslam students

October 27, 2014

American business magnate and financier T. Boone Pickens participated in a roundtable discussion with Haslam College of Business students on October 14.

Pickens addressed a range of topics in a question and answer session held at the Howard H. Baker Center on the Knoxville campus. He met with students from several Haslam disciplines and programs, including: Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars, MBA and supply chain doctoral students, Torch Fund student managers, Bredesen Center students and Chancellor Honors and Haslam Scholars.

Students in attendance were given valuable advice for life and business. Pickens told the group that he would trade the wealth he’s accumulated for a chance to be back in the same stage of life they currently occupy. “What a life you have in front of you,” he said. “What opportunities you cannot imagine that you’re going to see as your life unfolds.”

Pickens said a good work ethic was a key to his success. “With a good work ethic and a good education, you can’t miss,” he said. He encouraged attendees to make a positive impact and forge good relationships in their business and personal endeavors. “Leave a record that you’re proud of wherever you go and whatever you do,” he said.

Pickens began his career as a junior geologist before founding West Texas-based Mesa Petroleum, which would become the world’s largest independent oil company. He later acquired other oil and gas companies, including Gulf Oil and Phillips Petroleum. In 1997, he founded BP Capital.

A proponent of developing an energy plan for the United States, Pickens also shared his insights on the topic. “We’re the only country in the world that does not have an energy plan,” Pickens said. In July 2008, he introduced a plan that he summarized as “get on our own resources” and “get off OPEC oil.”

-Kelly Harrison