Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of Oil States International, Inc., a public, US$4 billion diversified solutions provider for the oil and gas industry. While not directly involved in exploration or development of the resources themselves, Oil States is a leading manufacturer of the equipment needed for deepwater drilling and production facilities and subsea pipelines. It also provides the oil and gas industry with a host of services, including remote site accommodations, production-related rental tools and land drilling services.
We’re not in Goldthwaite anymore
Born on a farm in rural Goldthwaite, Texas (pop. 1,802), Taylor never envisioned becoming a company CEO. In fact, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that the Texas Aggie began to realize her true destiny.
Taylor joined Ernst & Young in Houston right out of college in 1984. “I was told there were needs in energy. So that’s what I did — I just kind of grew up in the business.” In 1989, Cliffs Drilling Company, a newly formed public company and one of Taylor’s clients, offered her a job. She turned it down. “The oil and gas industry was on its back at the time,” she recalls, “and frankly, I didn’t know if they were going to make it.” The company survived and three years later again asked Taylor to join them. This time she said yes. “The facts and circumstances had changed,” says Taylor. Key among the changes: Doug Swanson, a man whom Taylor had worked with for years as a client and “thought the world of,” had become Cliffs Drilling’s CEO.
Cliffs Drilling began growing — rapidly. Over the next seven years, its stock value increased more than tenfold. But then came another industry downturn, leading Cliffs Drilling to merge with R&B Falcon (now Transocean, Ltd.). Taylor led the company through the transition while the majority of her fellow Cliffs Drilling executives left. A few months later, she was talking to her former boss, Doug Swanson, looking for new opportunities. He suggested that Taylor contact L.E. Simmons, head of SCF Partners, a Houston-based private equity firm.
Planting the seeds of leadership
Perhaps more important, it was Doug Swanson, seeing Taylor’s leadership potential, who advised her against taking another position in the industry that he felt would be a lateral move.
Soon thereafter, Taylor joined SCF Partners as CFO in “a loosely defined private equity role.” About nine months later, L.E. Simmons approached Taylor with the rather unorthodox idea of merging four private energy-related companies into a single public one. Simmons asked Taylor if she thought her former boss Doug Swanson might consider leading the effort. He agreed on one condition: that Cindy Taylor be part of his team. So in 2000, with Doug Swanson as CEO and Taylor as senior vice president, Oil States International was born.
Over the past 12 years, Oil States has expanded into a US$4 billion company with operations in 11 countries. In 2005, the company made Forbes’ “Top 100 Best Mid-Cap Stocks” list, and Oil States was named among Fortune’s “100 Fastest-Growing Companies” in 2006 and 2007. In 2007 Doug Swanson retired, making Taylor the company’s President and CEO.
The oil industry is filled with such colorfully nicknamed characters as “roustabouts,” “roughnecks” and “chainhands.” So you might be tempted to ask, “How does alumna Cindy Taylor fit in?” To which she would reply, “Just fine, thanks.”
Supporting the global pipeline
According to Taylor, much of Oil States’ recent growth has been fueled by energy development opportunities in Canada, Brazil, West Africa and Southeast Asia. “As a service company, we must constantly think about how and where to deploy our resources to support an industry whose growth is, at the moment, outside the US.” As one sign of the times, last December Oil States acquired an Australian firm. The move is designed to give Oil States broader geographic coverage and access to support mining and energy exploration in Australia, which is a large exporter to the end markets of China and India.
Closer to home, Taylor felt a deep, personal impact from the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “The industry has operated safely for 50 years, and most of us thought something like this just couldn’t happen.” While acknowledging the incident has given the industry a “black eye,” she believes the sector has learned some valuable lessons, and is pleased to see new US offshore drilling permits being issued.
A leader in her own right
Taylor is well aware of her unique position in the industry. She’s the only female member of the executive team at Oil States. She’s also the sole woman director at Tidewater Inc., home of the world’s largest workboat fleet supporting the offshore energy industry. A self-professed tomboy, Taylor says that being a woman in a historically male-dominated field works to her advantage. “I hear some women say they don’t have anything in common with men: 'I don’t play golf,’ 'I don’t hunt,’ 'I don’t fish’ — well, I do all that stuff, and I don’t have any problem doing it,” she says. Kidding aside, Taylor looks forward to her monthly lunches with leading Houston-area women executives, including several Ernst & Young professionals. “We don’t do it to 'check the box,’” she remarks. “We do it because we like each other.”
Born on a farm in rural Goldthwaite, Texas (pop. 1,802), Taylor never envisioned becoming a company CEO. In fact, it wasn't until about 10 years ago that the Texas Aggie began to realize her true destiny.
Meanwhile, back at home
Taylor’s greatest passion is her family. She and her husband of 25 years, Allan, have three sons, ages 15, 18 and 21. “I love what I do at work,” she says, “but if I do anything right, it will be to help raise the next generation of responsible leaders. America is great for creating opportunity, no matter who you are. I try to encourage my kids to see that they have a chance to learn something every day, and that they need to be willing to take advantage of those opportunities."
More about Cindy Taylor
- Member, Ernst & Young Houston Alumni Council
- Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA)
- Member, Development Council, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University
- Board member, Greater Houston Partnership
- 2010 Legacy Award recipient, Texas A&M Women's Former Student Network
Oil and gas: know the risks
The oil and gas industry is redefining itself amid uncertain energy policies and a changing environment. Technological advancements are opening up new reserves while changing the historical relationship between oil and gas as commodities. Available reserves are increasingly difficult and expensive to produce. As the pressure to meet future energy demand mounts, global alliances are becoming more critical.
Ernst & Young's Global Oil & Gas Center was created to help organizations adapt in this complex environment. We have a clear understanding of the specific challenges oil and gas companies face within this dynamic global marketplace.
To learn more about Ernst & Young's Oil & Gas services, including a webcast on navigating future transactions in oil and gas and our report, The top 10 risks for oil and gas, visit the Oil & Gas section of our website or contact Dale Nijoka, Ernst & Young's Global Oil & Gas Leader, at +1 713 750 1551.