HOUSTON, Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Chris Beckett, CEO of Pacific Drilling, has been named the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 National Energy, Cleantech and Natural Resources Award winner.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award, a leading business award for entrepreneurs, encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.
Beckett was recognized for establishing Pacific Drilling as a premier service provider in the industry by focusing on a certain type of drilling vessel — high-specification drillships that can operate in ultra-deepwater drilling environments and that offer the most advanced drilling technology available. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation's premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in 10 additional categories.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges and from more than 250 regional award recipients.
"Chris Beckett is the definition of a high-growth entrepreneur, and we're pleased to recognize him for his latest accomplishment," said Mike Kacsmar, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Americas Program Director. "He's grown a world-class team based on that entrepreneurial spirit, and he encourages his employees to make an impact by identifying novel approaches and seeing those ideas through to implementation."
Beckett began his professional life with a predecessor of oilfield services giant Schlumberger. After obtaining an MBA at Rice University, he subsequently joined McKinsey & Company, where he provided strategic and operations advice to global energy companies and governments. He eventually left consulting to pursue a career with Transocean, a major offshore drilling company.
During his time at Transocean, Beckett was involved in a transaction with an investment group that entered into a joint venture with Transocean. Shortly thereafter, these investors approached him to become the first employee of what would later become Pacific Drilling. This type of opportunity was truly exceptional — given the immense barriers to entry in the offshore drilling sector, the terms "start-up" and "offshore drilling contractor" are an unlikely pair. While this was a huge professional opportunity for him, it was perhaps an even bigger risk — he left a promising career at industry stalwart Transocean to try to build a company that had committed investors but no industry presence.
However, given his experience and knowledge of the industry, Beckett could not resist the opportunity to build a new "breed" of offshore drilling company. He felt the larger offshore drilling companies were not as well-suited to adapt to customers' quickly evolving needs. Even more importantly, he realized that he had a unique opportunity to build an industry-leading contract drilling company that would not be constrained by conventional thinking.
Merely eight years since formulating a business plan for Pacific Drilling in his living room — and less than four years since Pacific Drilling recorded revenue from its first paying client — Beckett now oversees a global company with the industry's most modern fleet of high-specification drillships, more than 1,200 employees and annual revenues rapidly approaching $1 billion.
The company's first challenge was also the most obvious — at its outset, Pacific Drilling had no customers. His vision was to achieve a blue-chip customer base of clientele within the industry that would be best-suited to engage the services of highly advanced drillships. Right away, Beckett sought to establish credibility by highlighting not only his experience in the industry, but that of his management team. Together, they educated potential customers on the technological advantages of their drillships and persisted in pursuing blue-chip customers, coming back again and again after being initially turned away. His persistence paid off when Pacific Drilling secured its first contract with Chevron. Today, Pacific Drilling's customer base includes global players like Chevron, Total and Petrobras.
The other challenge was to acquire the complex assets and human capital needed to serve the company's early customers while also growing the business. Beckett analyzed and controlled the growth, striving to always provide the highest-quality service to the client and have the infrastructure to properly manage the operations. He strategically planned the growth, evaluating when new assets would be ordered and delivered while securing contracts to ensure immediate use upon delivery. Pacific Drilling grew from 16 employees in 2008 to over 1,200 employees, including rig workers, in 2014. Just as momentous, Pacific Drilling grew from two operational drillships in 2011 to five operational drillships today, with two more scheduled to enter service by the end of 2014.
Even with these challenges, Pacific Drilling was able to secure equity, issue debt and complete a public offering in order to fund the growth of the company. This success was based not only on a committed group of initial investors, but also on a solid business plan that convinced the investment community that Pacific Drilling had a bright future under Beckett's leadership.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 National Energy, Cleantech and Natural Resources finalists
In addition to Beckett, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Energy, Cleantech and Natural Resources finalists in the US were: Clane LaCrosse, President & CEO, Bosque Systems, LLC, based in Fort Worth, Texas; Brian Reinsborough, Founder, President & CEO, Venari Resources LLC, based in Dallas, Texas; and Mark Slaughter, CEO & President, RigNet, Inc., based in Houston, Texas.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 National Overall Award winner
Dr. David Hung of Medivation was named the EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM 2014 National Overall Award winner.
Video and photos
To view photos of all of the Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, please visit ey.com/us/eoy.
Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the US by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy
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