Willingness to do any job that comes along and to relocate readily can lead to great opportunities, Kevin McEvoy, CEO and President of Oceaneering International, recently told Mays Full-Time MBA and undergraduate students.

McEvoy says he chose to attend Texas A&M 36 years ago because, at 27 years old and newly married, he hoped to parlay his training from his four years in the Navy into a career. “So in spite of being from the East Coast and not knowing what an Aggie was, I came.”

Kevin McEvoy '79, CEO and President of Oceaneering International
Kevin McEvoy ’79, CEO and President
of Oceaneering International

He described his workload of 30 to 40 hours a week while working on his MBA as necessary but enlightening. He kept that work ethic throughout his career.

McEvoy obtained bachelor’s degrees in biology and geology from Brown University and upon graduation joined the Navy as a diving and salvage officer, where he gained experience in diving, ship salvage and submarine rescue. After he left the Navy, McEvoy received an MBA from Texas A&M and joined a commercial diving company in the offshore oil industry. He stayed with his company after it was absorbed by Oceaneering, and he worked his way up to the top position.

“I never had a goal of being CEO. In the last ten years, I thought each promotion/job could be the last, and I was OK with that,” he told the students. “I liked the company, I liked the people, I liked the work and I was just fine doing it.”

Brad Knotts ’13, a business honors and finance major, says he learned from McEvoy how important it is for a company to set itself apart from others. “Mr. McEvoy spoke in great length of how his company is able to differentiate themselves in the market by offering first-class service to go along with their offshore products,” Knotts explains. “Due to the fact that deep-sea trees and associated hardware systems cost $100’s of millions to complete, having engineers and repair technology readily available to fix any problems is vital.”

Casey Gattshall ’15, a business honors sophomore, says her my main takeaway from McEvoy is that if you work hard and enjoy what you are doing, success will follow. “Despite the drastic technological and industrial changes that Mr. McEvoy has experienced throughout his time at Oceaneering, he has always allowed his passion and work ethic to fuel him.”

McEvoy enumerated the top lessons he wanted to share:

  • The choices you make and the events that occur shape your life and your future, but you often don’t know how they will until later.
  • Attitudes filter down, not up, in an organization. Everyone has the opportunity to impact morale in any organization.
  • A little humility with a little respect for the other person goes a long way.
  • Degrees don’t make you smart or better equipped, especially in operating or manufacturing companies, experience does.
  • Your personal success hinges on your ability to communicate well in person — not in emails, not in texts. Communication needs to be at least 50 percent listening. And everyone needs to be able to communicate three levels down and two levels up.
  • Volunteer for everything. It will mean more work, but it will benefit you in many ways: Your supervisor will notice your willingness, and it could open opportunities you might not otherwise be considered for.
  • Recognize the many people along the way that help you on your path to success.
  • Don’t be impatient. Things change in ways and for reasons you cannot envision.
  • Straighten out any discord in your personal life. It is very difficult to succeed in business if your personal life is in chaos.
  • Accept that you will have a boss sometime in your career who favors others or doesn’t give you the recognition you think you deserve. This is a reality of the world and something you have to just get used to or work around.
  • Never, never, ever compromise your ethics. Being close to the line only makes you comfortable being there, and it is just a few small steps to cross it.
  • Always be the one who volunteers for new assignments, even if there are uncertainties involved.
  • Have fun doing your job. You should be happy to go to work every morning.
  • Learn the nuts and bolts of your company’s operations. Detailed knowledge of how things work is critical.
About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.