Investing in students is a principal priority for Al Reese ’71. In a recent discussion with Mays Business Honors students, the ATP Oil & Gas CFO advised students to “make sure you have someone there for you and make sure you’re always there for someone else.”

Reese’s business background offers an array of knowledge from which the business students can draw.

“I want to invest in students like I was invested in,” says ATP Oil & Gas CFO Al Reese ’71. (view more photos)

Equipped with a finance degree from Texas A&M University and extensive work experience in accounting and consulting, Reese joined ATP as chief financial officer in 1999. ATP is a Houston-based company that acquires, develops and produces oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea, North Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Reese is often contacted by prominent business news sources for opinions and analysis of current financial situations, and he’s now at the forefront of the oil industry’s financial leadership.

But it hasn’t been easy getting there, he tells students. A series of defining moments and hardships have propelled him to becoming the leader he is today — the most recent being the 2010 BP oil spill and subsequent drilling moratorium. He recounted handling the fiasco as “the most intense time of my business career.”

“I told my people that if we’re going to go down in a ball of fire, let’s be part of the flame instead of a spectator,” Reese says about his decision to defend his company’s best interests during the oil spill. He adds: “You get thrown into situations like that, and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Reese says as an Aggie, giving back to other Aggies is crucial. He currently funds four Mays scholarships and describes his support as “an investment, not a gift,” challenging students to never take their education and talents lightly. “I want to invest in students like I was invested in,” he says.

Reese says he calls his three granddaughters, ages 4, 7 and 11, each night and reads books such as Berenstain Bears, Treasure Island and Mary Poppins. Those girls motivate him to mentor students at Mays Business School, whom he reminds, “You are the leaders for my grandchildren.”