Office of Communications
470C Wohlers Hall
College of Business

College of BusinessCommerce News

April 3, 2002 -- News Brief

Energy CEO participates in Executive-in-Residence program

As a CCBA Executive-in-Residence, Ocean Energy CEO Jim Hackett carried a general message to the classes where he was a guest lecturer. "Your career path may take some strange turns," he said "but if you have goals, you will be successful." And Hackett is living proof that the twists and turns of life can bring you to a very satisfying and successful place.

CCBA can claim Jim Hackett as an alumnus only through a serendipitous series of events in the early 1970s. He enrolled at the Air Force Academy and was an outstanding student (in the top 5 students in his class). But a routine check of his eyesight during his sophomore year made his hoped for career as a fighter pilot impossible. So he transferred to CCBA to complete his undergraduate degree. Following graduation in 1976 with a degree in finance, he went to work in the auditing department of Amoco before deciding to pursue an MBA at Harvard.

His Illinois degree, Hackett noted during his recent visit to campus, gave him a great education with strong financial training. His engineering courses from the Academy and elsewhere plus his business education made him competitive for a position at Burlington Resources, an independent oil and gas exploration company. That job addressed his interest in the energy field that was piqued at Amoco. He has never looked back.

Hackett now serves as Chairman, President, and CEO of Ocean Energy, one of the ten largest independent oil and gas exploration companies in the US. The company's active development program is focused on deepwater exploration, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and Africa. The company's strategy is focused on four key business drivers: operational excellence, exploratory success, production growth, and financial discipline. Since being formed in 1999, the company has had double-digit production growth and lower finding and development costs. Hackett was instrumental in recreating Ocean Energy when it merged with Seagull Energy Corporation where he was chairman, CEO, and president. He also worked at Pan Energy when it merged with Duke Power to create Duke Energy. If it weren't for the leadership opportunities in a company, Hackett noted that he would make mergers, the art of combining companies and visions, his profession.

Asked what skills and attributes he looks for in colleagues and new employees of Ocean Energy, Hackett offered a roadmap for success: high energy, character and integrity, and technical competence. The first item he mentioned, though, was experience with competitive athletics. As a veteran of three high school sports teams and as a varsity lacrosse player at the Academy, he knows personally the value of teamwork and also how to be successful as an individual while a team member. Balance is another key, which Hackett believes speaks to broad interests and the ability to manage time.

Summing up his perspective on life and work, Hackett said "Never forget the power of being liked." He firmly believes that a successful career is never the work of an individual. It is the result of the individual working and collaborating with his colleagues.

Communications Office, 470C Wohlers Hall
1206 South Sixth St, Champaign, IL 61820
College of Business
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign