EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 Gulf Coast Area Awards

Offshore Drilling


hou_eoy_ChristianBeckettChris Beckett
Pacific Drilling


Chris Beckett didn’t waste any time turning Pacific Drilling into a leader in the offshore drilling industry. In fact, some have called his company the most successful startup in the industry’s history. The best part of the story is that Beckett devised the business plan for this company in his living room.
He began his professional life with a predecessor of oilfield services giant Schlumberger. After obtaining a degree in geophysics, he set off for the oilfields of Libya where he ultimately landed a key leadership assignment with Schlumberger’s U.S. Land seismic operation in Houston.
He then obtained a master’s degree in business administration at Rice University and subsequently joined McKinsey & Co. 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 there, Beckett was involved in a transaction with an investment group that entered into a joint venture with Transocean. Shortly thereafter, these investors approached Beckett 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 “startup” 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 Transocean to try to build a company that had committed investors, but no industry presence. Beckett, however, believed in his abilities and couldn’t resist the opportunity to build a new breed of offshore drilling company.
As CEO, Beckett manages his team using principles learned from both his extensive career and his transformative time spent pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. He believes in a team environment bolstered by strong authority figures. It’s a formula that has led to great results.


hou_eoy_MichaelBlakeBeau Blake
President and CEO
Blake International Rigs, LLC


Beau Blake grew up in the drilling industry. His father owned rigs in the 1980s and Blake spent his childhood working with his father on those rigs. As early as high school, he knew that he wanted to continue the family legacy and run his own drilling company.
After he left school, Blake and his father set out to explore new opportunities in the industry. In 2008, they found that opportunity when Pride International put its platform drilling division up for sale. The Blake family purchased the rigs and created Blake International Rigs, LLC.
Blake recognized that he needed to truly learn how a drilling company worked from top to bottom before he would ever be able to run the company himself. After the company was formed, Blake set out to work in every department. He took the approach that he needed to know how the accounts payable department worked before he could adequately direct them as the company’s leader.
As he grew more confident and comfortable directing the company, he assumed the role of president and CEO.
Today, Blake International Rigs is one of only three companies operating in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico with platform rigs.
There have, however, been challenges. The expansion in drilling activity has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for experienced personnel in the industry. Combined with the fact that the oilfield workforce is rapidly aging, it creates huge difficulties for companies in hiring and retaining employees.
Blake keeps searching for younger employees with potential and gives them an opportunity to move up and grow. He recently hired a new marketing manager who had grown frustrated at his former company and gave him the chance to direct his own department, a position in which he has thrived.
He is proud that listening to the needs of his people and working hard to make them feel valued and appreciated has been key to his success.

hou_eoy_JohnRyndJohn Rynd
President and CEO
Hercules Offshore


When he accepted a roustabout position on an offshore drilling rig in 1980, John Rynd got his start in the oil and gas industry. Through hard work and determination, he earned the role of CEO and president at Hercules Offshore.
His vision of what the company could be has been invaluable. His leadership and astute business acumen, as well as his steadfast commitment to conducting operations with the utmost level of safety, ethics and integrity have been instrumental in establishing the solid foundation on which Hercules Offshore rests.
Rynd has been a pillar of wisdom and encouragement at Hercules Offshore throughout the many challenges the company has faced over the last several years. Those challenges range from the global financial crisis to an unprecedented slow down in domestic offshore drilling.
At a time when the future of the company and the industry was uncertain, Rynd encouraged the Hercules team to remain focused on safety and to trust management to navigate through the challenges.
The most significant hurdle Rynd had to overcome was the global financial crisis of 2008. It resulted in a significant decline in oil and gas prices, which led to decreased day rates and utilization of its rigs and liftboats. With decreased financial performance, the company faced the risk of compromising a debt covenant in late 2009 and 2010.
Rynd worked diligently to shield employees from incurring the burdens of the company. Under his direction and through the worst down cycle the domestic drilling industry had faced, Hercules Offshore was able to further expand its fleet, reduce its cost structure and financial leverage, improve operationally and maintain a stringent focus on safety. It has all contributed to the growth of the company, which now operates in nine countries on three continents.