Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello

It’s an understatement to say that Tony Petrello’s career has been one of great success. After all, in 2015, Tony Petrello was one of the highest-compensated CEOs in the U.S. Tony’s many achievements have been the products of natural gifts, consistent hard work, and creative thinking.

It’s also important to note the ways in which Tony has given back to society, particularly how he’s worked to help children with neurological disorders. For sure, his life is worthy of admiration and emulation.

A Remarkable Student

Tony grew up in Newark, N.J., where he attended public schools. When he was in high school, he was famous in his hometown for his amazing math abilities. Yale University took notice, and it awarded Tony a scholarship and the opportunity to be mentored by Serge Lang. Lang was a brilliant mathematician, author, and professor.

At Yale, from which he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he became known for his outgoing personality and strong sense of humor. Plus, Yale changed Tony Petrello’s life in a special way. It was there that he met Cynthia, his beloved wife. Cynthia would go on to become a dancer, a movie and TV actress, and a soap opera producer.

After graduating from Yale, Tony Petrello surprised many of his professors and classmates when he decided not to become a mathematician. Rather, he enrolled in Harvard Law School.

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Law or Business?

In 1979, Tony Petrello joined Baker & McKenzie, a major American law firm. There, he specialized in business law, especially taxation and arbitration. In 1986, he became a managing partner of its New York division.

At Baker & McKenzie, Tony Petrello worked with a client by the name of Nabors Industries. Nabors drills for oil and natural gas on land, and it’s the largest such company on Earth.

Managers at Nabors were so impressed by Tony’s efforts and powers of analysis that they began trying to hire him away. Well, those lobbying efforts paid off. A budding mathematician turned corporate attorney was headed for a new career. He was to become a business executive.

Thus, after he’d lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, Tony Petrello was off to make his residence in an entirely new place: Texas. The Lone Star State is his home to this day.

Life at Nabors and Beyond

In 1991, Tony Petrello began serving as Nabors’ Chief Operating Officer. The same year, he took a seat on the board of directors as well as the board’s executive committee. Then, in 1992, he became the president. His achievements in those positions were undeniably helpful in terms of building up the company. For instance, in 1993, Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling. Also, a much larger transaction in 2010 brought Superior Well Services under Nabors’ corporate umbrella.

Since October 28, 2011, Tony Petrello has been Nabors’ CEO. On top of that, in June 2012, he was named the chairman of the board as well as chairman of the board’s executive committee.

By common acclaim, Tony Petrello’s leadership at Nabors has been top-notch. During the past six years, he’s allowed the company to keep growing and thriving in an industry where the competition is intense, to say the least, at all times. Indeed, Tony Petrello is extremely adept at day-to-day management tasks as well as the creation of long-term strategic visions.

In addition to his many duties at Nabors, Tony Petrello has been a director at, and today, he’s a director at Hilcorp Energy Company. What’s more, since February 28, 2011, he’s served as a director at Stewart & Stevenson.

An Extraordinary Philanthropist

In the late 1990s, Tony and Cynthia Petrello had a daughter named Carena. At birth, she weighed 20 ounces, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. Carena wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods until she was about 7 years old.

Tony Petrello wanted to help other children with neurological conditions. Therefore, he donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he also took a seat on its board of trustees. The hospital was able to put that money toward the construction of a complex dedicated to pediatric neurological care. It’s called the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and it’s a cutting-edge institution. The Institute treats children from across the country and the globe, and it’s provided hope to countless families.

Over time, Tony Petrello has used his business acumen to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to this cause, and those efforts are ongoing.

Finally, Tony Petrello is quick to credit luck for many of his accomplishments. However, his friends, his family members, his colleagues, and everyone who’s gotten to know Tony’s powerful work ethic and big heart realize that good fortune is only one small aspect of his amazing life story.

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