The oil and gas industry is operating in “almost a boomtown environment” these days, Tony Best ’72 told a group of Mays Business Honors students recently. He predicts that trend will continue, with the U.S. gaining $3.8 billion in revenues and 300,000 jobs by 2020.

Best is CEO and president of SM Energy, which is based in Denver and has four regional offices around the country. “I love what I’m doing, but I really love the oil and gas industry,” said Best, who has been in the field for 35 years. “There is nothing like it. It is a noble profession to provide the nation’s energy supply.”

Best gave a brief history lesson about his industry and his company. He said there has been a 24-percent increase in America’s natural gas supply in the last two years, and that fossil fuels will remain a foundation for the U.S. energy supply. “There truly is an energy revolution going on in our country today,” he said. “We are reaching a point we don’t have to depend on these pretty tough countries to provide our oil. That will help the U.S. in numerous ways.”

Best said he likes to stay involved with Texas A&M, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He has remained involved with the Dwight Look College of Engineering, the 12th Man Foundation and the Corps of Cadets. “I love this place, but every time I come back I am surprised by how much it has grown,” he said.

After leaving Texas A&M, Best earned a master of science in engineering management from the University of Alaska, then served five years in the U.S. Air Force as an engineering officer.

Best revealed his savvy about students, offering a trivia contest at the end and awarding Starbucks gift cards as prizes. He told the students that their job searches should not be focused only on the money. “Focus on the culture and the values of that company,” he said. “Ask them some tough questions, too. It’s not just about the money, it’s about being proud of where you work.”

Best explained how his company practices responsible production — being a good neighbor, utilizing new technology, and following laws and regulations.

Katie Morris ’16 said she and her 14 Business Honors classmates learned a lot about natural gas and how oil is captured. “Some of the main points of his talk included the company’s focus on capturing resource plays, and the importance the company places on ethics and the environment,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to be able to hear from such an esteemed professional.”

Whitney Brown ’16 said she enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Best. “He showed us the importance of looking beyond what a company does to see why they do it and the values that stand behind it,” she said. “I learned that the energy revolution is happening, and it is happening fast. We are lucky to be in the great state of Texas because Texas will see the most positive outcome of the energy revolution compared to any other state.”

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Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 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.