Rick Bott has come a long way from his childhood in south Texas, parlaying his penchant for surfing into a decades-long career searching the globe for oil.
He recently joined Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc. as president and chief operating officer after a three-plus year stint with Cairn India.
Bott is no stranger to Oklahoma City as a former Devon Energy Corp. executive, but he is living here for the first time in a career marked by stints on at least three other continents.
Here is an edited transcript of Bott's recent conversation with The Oklahoman:
Q: Call it the elephant not in the room, but you're the only person I've ever met who's been trained to drive an elephant. How did that come about?
A: Well, my wife loves elephants and we also really love to travel. That's kind of perhaps what led me to geology. In India, you see elephants a lot. They're used in wedding ceremonies. They're used all around the place, actually all over Southeast Asia. They're just amazing animals. ... My wife found this place on the Internet, which was an elephant rescue center (in Thailand). I turned out to be fairly good at getting an elephant to do what I wanted it to do, once they taught me the basics.
Q: Do any of those elephant techniques apply to managing people?
A: That's a good point because what they're teaching you is the commands in Thai. You're learning to speak just those words. So I guess that's probably a very, very good point, the clarity of your instructions. The clarity of your instructions is probably very good because if you're not clear, the elephant doesn't translate. They don't know English.
Q: You came to Continental from India. How did you end up over there?
A: It was an opportunity to take an executive role. ... I met a guy who introduced me to the CEO, who kind of ended up being my partner. We sort of talked about what the company needed. They had made some very, very large onshore oil discoveries, with a very complicated and technical oil, but had a hard time getting the development off the ground. My wife and I talked about it. We thought we had one more international assignment in us. It was probably one of the most challenging things I've ever done, but it was very, very rewarding. We built a tremendous organization. ... We built what has now become the world's longest continuously heated and insulated pipeline. That will ultimately reach 70 percent of the refining capacity in India. Those fields turned out to be 20 to 25 percent of the total oil produced in India, so it was a big deal. I think a major company could not have done that because the government in India is very difficult to work with.
Q: You mentioned your international experience. Where all have you been during your career?