Tillerson, Rex W. 1952–

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Rex W. Tillerson

President, ExxonMobil Corporation

Nationality: American.

Born: March 23, 1952, in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Education: University of Texas at Austin, BS.

Family: Married Renda St. Clair.

Career: Exxon Company, U.S.A., 19751987, production engineer and various engineering, technical, and supervisory assignments; 19871989, business development manager in the natural gas department; Exxon central production division, 19891992, general manager; 19921995, production adviser; Exxon Yemen and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat, 19951998, president; Exxon Ventures and Exxon Neftegas, 19981999, president; ExxonMobil Development Company, 19992001, executive vice president; ExxonMobil Corporation, 20012004, senior vice president; 2004, president.

Address: ExxonMobil Corporation, 5959 Las Colinas Boulevard, Irving, Texas 75039-2298; http://www.exxonmobil.com.

Rex W. Tillerson became ExxonMobil Corporation's president in 2004, after spending nearly 30 years with that company and with Exxon. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, he joined the company as a production engineer in 1975. He rose through the ranks at Exxon in several executive positions, including a period in which he led Exxon's operations in Yemen and Russia. He returned to the United States in 1999 as executive vice president for ExxonMobil Development Company. The company named him senior vice president in 2001 while the company searched for a new chairman and chief executive officer, and in 2004 he was promoted to president of the company. Tillerson was regarded as a solid manager in the exploration and production aspects of Exxon's business.


Tillerson was a native of Texas, growing up in Wichita Falls, located to the northwest of Dallas/Fort Worth. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a BS degree in civil engineering. He began his career with Exxon in 1975, when he accepted a position as a production engineer. Throughout the next 12 years, he took on numerous responsibilities in positions related to engineering, technical assignments, and supervisory roles within the Exxon production department.

In 1987 the company promoted Tillerson to the position of business development manager in Exxon's natural gas department. In that position he was responsible for developing long-range planning to commercialize gas from Alaska and the Beaufort Sea in Canada. Two years later he was named general manager of the central production division at Exxon, where he was charged with overseeing oil-and-gas production in large portions of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. He continued his rise through the company in 1992, when the company moved him to Dallas to the position of production adviser for Exxon Corporation. He thereafter moved to New Jersey, where he served as coordinator of affiliate gas sales in Exxon Company, International.


Tillerson worked in New Jersey until 1995, when he took over as president of Exxon Yemen and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat. In January 1998 he became vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) and president of Exxon Neftegas. In these roles Tillerson oversaw the company's holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea, dealing with the Commonwealth of In dependent States (CIS) comprised of several former republics of the Soviet Union, in addition to operations off the shore of Sakhalin Island in Russia.

Tillerson's primary experience came in the so-called up stream side of Exxon's business, that term referring to the company's exploration and drilling for oil. He developed numerous connections in Russia, including relationships with top officials. His success overseas led to another promotion and a return to the United States. In 1999 he was named vice president in charge of developing and producing new oil-and-gas reserves.


Oil company executives have traditionally been tightlipped regarding their businesses or issues affecting their businesses. Lee R. Raymond, who became Exxon's chairman and chief executive officer in 1993, was an exception. He was widely known for speaking out on controversial issues, including global warming. Nevertheless, his tenure at Exxon was considered an overwhelming success. In 1999 Exxon, already the world's largest publicly traded oil company, announced a major purchase of Mobil Oil Company for a reported $81 billion. The merger created a company with more than $200 billion in annual sales.

By 2001 Raymond was planning for retirement. The company's board, however, persuaded Raymond, who was nearing the company's mandatory retirement age of 65, to remain as chairman until the company could find a suitable successor. The search for this successor generated a significant amount of news and speculation. Shortly after it was announced that Raymond would remain as the company's chairman and CEO, both Tillerson and Edward G. Galante, who was involved in Exxon's refining and chemical businesses, were promoted to the position of senior vice president.

Tillerson and Galante met with the company's board regularly, with both men making presentations at a company retreat in 2003. Both executives also represented the company at a number of important conferences. Tillerson's experience in the upstream side of Exxon's business was considered by analysts as his biggest strength. He was largely responsible for an estimated 80 percent of the company's $11 billion profit in 2002, and as one analyst told Cathy Booth Thomas for an article in Time magazine (December 1, 2003), the company's future was "predicated on success in oil and gas exploration and production."

Tillerson also earned respect as an oil executive. The same article in Time noted that "when he walks into the room, Rex Tillerson radiates competence and stability." In an Oil Daily article (February 27, 2004), another analyst said that "Tillerson has a reputation as a good 'hands-on' guy and a solid exploration and production manager. He's a Texas engineer type in a company with a history of being run by engineers."

Exxon ended several months of speculation in February 2004 when the company named Tillerson president of the company, a position that had remained vacant since 1996. Most industry analysts viewed the move as an indication that Tillerson would eventually succeed Raymond as the company's chairman and chief executive officer, though company officials declined to comment. When he was named president, Tillerson also earned a seat on the company's board.

Raymond remained the company's primary spokesperson in the months that followed Tillerson's appointment. However, Tillerson became more visible after he took over as president. At the company's annual meeting in Dallas in 2004, Tillerson joined Raymond on the stage, fielding questions from some of the shareholders. Tillerson's business relationships in Russia were viewed by analysts and insiders as critically important, since the company expressed interest in developing partnerships to explore for oil in Siberia.

Tillerson was also a member of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, the Engineering Foundation Advisory Council for the University of Texas at Austin, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the American Petroleum Institute.

sources for further information

Koenig, David, "Exxon Mobil Names President," Associated Press Newswires, February 27, 2004.

Piller, Dan, "President Named by Exxon Mobil," Fort Worth Star Telegram, February 28, 2004.

Reedy, Sudeep, "Next in Line at Exxon?" Dallas Morning News, February 27, 2004.

Schwartz, Nelson D., "Goodbye, Mr. Exxon," Fortune, September 15, 2003, p. 116.

Thomas, Cathy Booth, "An Oilman Who Still Gets Respect," Time, December 1, 2003, p. 84.

"Tillerson Seen as Next CEO at Exxon Mobil," Oil Daily, February 27, 2004.

Warren, Susan, "Exxon Signals Succession Plan by Naming Tillerson," Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2004.

Matthew C. Cordon

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