Aggies and leadership go together like a “howdy” and a firm handshake—a natural fit. That’s why it is no surprise that there are more former students of Texas A&M University leading Fortune 100 companies than graduates of any other university in the nation. The University of Michigan and Penn State University follow Texas A&M with three CEOs each in the Fortune 100. We asked these four Aggie CEOs about their leadership philosophies, staying relevant in changing industries and how the companies they lead are building a better world.
Darren Woods ’87, CEO, ExxonMobil
It’s an exciting time in the energy industry. As the Earth’s population continues to grow, more people than ever need access to affordable and reliable energy. However, that energy must be produced in new, more sustainable ways. This is the dual challenge that ExxonMobil faces—and the work that Darren Woods undertakes as its chairman and CEO. The solutions won’t be easy, but they will make a lasting impact on the world.
ExxonMobil is working to reduce its emissions and is helping consumers do the same. “Ultimately though, to achieve society’s ambitions, new technologies are needed,” Woods said. That’s why ExxonMobil is conducting breakthrough research in lower-emission technologies, working with a variety of partners: 80 universities around the world, technology companies, private venture funds and the U.S. Department of Energy. “We believe ExxonMobil has an important role to play in helping solve the dual challenge,” he said.
Leading the company during an unprecedented time in the industry has its challenges. “How do you know what you don’t know?” Woods often asks himself. “Good leaders don’t need all the answers, but they must ask the right questions.
“I believe informed, thoughtful, challenging and constructive debate across the organization is essential,” he added. “The best results are achieved when you have talented people with the right mindset and a common set of values working together.”
Solving these important challenges motivates Woods. “Our commitment to raise the bar, hold ourselves to the highest standards and find better ways to meet the needs of communities all around the world inspires each and every one of us,” he concluded.