Powerhouse CEO and Dad with a Cause: Get to Know Tony Petrello
Tony Petrello has led a fascinating life characterized by einvention. In “Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello,” we learn a bit about the history of a man who wears many hats, bearing all responsibility with efficient adaptability. Posted on the law blog www.thereisnoconsensus.com, the article introduces us to a public school kid from New Jersey whose academic success and intelligence lifted him out of the suburbs and into Yale on a scholarship.
Petrello earned a BA and MA in Mathematics-related concentrations from Yale, working with esteemed mathematician Dr. Serge Lang. At Yale he also met his wife, Cynthia. After shocking everyone at home with his ascent into Yale, Petrello went in a very different direction from the life of Academia that he was being groomed to live. Rather than entering a PhD program, Anthony Petrello entered Harvard Law.
It paid off. Just as Petrello had shown brilliance with numbers, he performed brilliantly in a prestigious New York law firm, Baker and MacKenzie. One legal client, Nabors Industries, wrestled him away in 1989. Tony Petrello rose swiftly through the company, making smart choices that took advantage of the government’s repeal of anti-trust laws in a bid to boost the economy. Under Petrello’s leadership, Nabors Industries bought out or absorbed multiple drilling operations, making Nabors the largest land-based natural gas drilling corporation in the world.
By 2015, Petrello was the highest paid CEO in the world. Going to Nabors also meant moving to Texas. Anthony and Cynthia Petrello have clearly embraced their home, actively engaging in their community and investing in philanthropic causes. Tony Petrello sits on multiple boards, including one at Texas Children’s Hospital: The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital (or, NRI).
The NRI opened in December 2010 in part because of a $7 million donation from the Petrello family. Their daughter Carena serves as the inspiration for such a donation. Carena Petrello has severe neurological defects due to her premature birth at 24 weeks. She was born with Cerebral Palsy and PVL (Periventricular Leukomalacia). As a result, she has to fight to hit the developmental milestones that most parents take for granted. For example, she was not able to eat solid food on her own until the age of seven.
Petrello said in an email to an old Yale roommate that between intelligence and luck, he’d take luck every time – a curious lack of arrogance in someone so talented. Yet, chance brings us the things that matter most; our health, opportunities… chance can be a maddening difference between a daughter born full-term and healthy, and a child with a debilitating disease. Anthony Petrello: math wiz, CEO, Philanthropist, Dad, and now, humble sage.