Michael Wiley learned the oil and gas business from the ground up - literally.
a University of Tulsa petroleum engineering major from Jenks, Okla., he
spent summers working for the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) as a
roustabout: cleaning tanks, overhauling engines and digging ditches in
the oilfields of West Texas.
"It sure gave me an appreciation
of what they do and why I didn't want to do that for the rest of my
life," says Wiley. "It helped motivate me to study hard."
has a scholarship program established by two longtime TU faculty
members - Kermit Brown and James Brill - to thank for his eye-opening
summer experiences. In keeping with their collaborative vision uniting
academia and industry, Professors Brown and Brill recruited oil
companies to sponsor TU petroleum engineering undergraduates, providing
both scholarship support and summer jobs. Wiley's benefactor was ARCO,
and the relationship between the company and its young protégé endured
for the next 30 years.
"ARCO consistently provided their
young engineers with many opportunities," Wiley said. "For me, this
included assignments in the Gulf of Mexico, Iran, Indonesia, the North
Sea, Greenland and Alaska, all in my first 10 years with the company.
It was an invaluable experience."
As an undergraduate, Wiley
took classes on TU's North Campus, located two miles north of the main
campus on Lewis Ave. TU's petroleum engineering research consortia
remain headquartered on the North Campus today.
"We were a
little isolated, but it drove us together," says Wiley of the
camaraderie that developed among petroleum engineering majors. As an
undergradate, he was also active in the TU student chapter of the
Society of Petroleum Engineers, an international professional
organization that continues to provide students with career development
opportunities through field trips, guest speakers and conferences.
graduated from TU in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in petroleum
engineering and promptly moved to Lafayette, La., to work for ARCO as a
junior engineer. During the first two decades of his career, Wiley held
a variety of ARCO engineering and operations positions in the United
States and abroad: petroleum engineer, senior drilling engineer, staff
operations manager, production manager, and manager of planning and
evaluation. He also earned a master's degree in business administration
from the University of Dallas.
Wiley was named vice president
of ARCO in 1989 and advanced into executive positions of increasing
responsibility until he became president and chief operating officer.
During the 1990s, Wiley spearheaded a period of tremendous growth for
ARCO, including a landmark joint venture with the Russian oil company,
LUKOIL, one of the first business associations of its kind in the
industry. He also oversaw the spin-off of Vastar Resources, an ARCO
subsidiary, into an independent oil and gas company, serving as
Vastar's first president and chief executive officer and later as
After three decades with ARCO, Wiley took the helm
of Baker Hughes, a Houston-based oil services company, when British
Petroleum merged with ARCO in 2000. During his four years as chairman,
president and CEO of Baker Hughes, Wiley brought the company back to
life following a period of decline. He semi-retired in 2004 but remains
involved serving on several public and private company boards.
a distinguished career stewarding oil and gas assets from West Texas to
the Caspian Sea, Wiley has always attributed his success to TU's
program in petroleum engineering.
"Under the leadership of E.T. Guerrero (longtime dean of TU's
engineering college), and professors like Kermit Brown and Jim Brill,
it was one of the most recognized programs of its kind in the nation,"
has also remained committed to strengthening the partnership between
academia and industry, serving on TU's Petroleum Engineering Advisory
Board for 10 years and as a member of the TU Board of Trustees from
1999-2005. He was inducted into the College of Engineering and Natural
Sciences Hall of Fame in 1998.
On the personal front, Wiley
and his wife, Laura, have two children, Sara, a graduate of Syracuse
University and TU, where she earned a master's degree in computer
science; and Richard, who is an undergraduate at the University of
Kansas. The Wileys are members of TU's Circle Society and support the
Annual Fund for the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences as
Challengers. Wiley was also instrumental in establishing TU's Baker
Hughes Presidential Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering.
While Wiley's early oilfield lessons as a TU undergraduate proved
invaluable, he cites another experience as uniquely instructive. During
college, he worked part time for Montgomery Ward repairing washers,
dryers, air conditioners and lawn mowers. When the company announced
cutbacks, Wiley, who had just been named his store's number one
serviceman, was on the hit list.
"I got the award on a Saturday and they laid me off on Monday," he says. "That's life."