10 Things You Didn’t Know about National Oilwell Varco CEO Clay C. Williams

Clay Williams CEO President NOV

Clay C. Williams is the man responsible for running National Oilwell Varco. For proof, look no further than the fact that he holds the positions of President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, meaning that he possesses unmatched influence over the multinational corporation. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Clay C. Williams:

1. Studied Civil/Geological Engineering At Princeton University

Williams went to Princeton University for a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering as well as geological engineering. For those who are unfamiliar, civil engineering is one of the first fields of engineering to come into existence because it is focused on the built environment, meaning that it encompasses roads, bridges, and harbors. Meanwhile, geological engineering is the field of engineering responsible for assessing geological conditions to make sure that geological factors are accounted for when it comes to engineering projects. As such, the two fields are excellent complements for one another.

2. Studied Business Administration

Besides his Bachelor of Science for civil engineering as well as geological engineering, Williams has a MBA via the University of Texas at Austin as well. Suffice to say that MBAs are very popular for top executives because the subjects of study are so relevant for said individuals’ responsibilities.

3. Has Extensive Experience in Oil and Gas

Given his current position, it should come as no surprise to learn that Williams has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry through a number of positions at a number of companies. Over time, there has a steady increase in the status of his positions as well as the responsibilities of his positions.

4. Came to National Oilwell Varco Via Mergers

National Oilwell Varco is the product of a merger between National Oilwell and Varco. Williams came to National Oilwell Varco via Varco, where he was serving as its CFO at the time. However, it is interesting to note that Williams had come to Varco via an earlier merger. In that case, he had come to Varco when Varco carried out a merger with Turboscope, where he was working as a lower-ranked executive.

5. Independent Director of Benchmark Electronics

Besides being the head of National Oilwell Varco, Williams is an independent director of Benchmark Electronics as well. In short, Benchmark Electronics is a contract manufacturer, meaning that it specializes in manufacturing electronic components for clients in the computer, telecommunications, and other industries. As a result, the corporation can be considered a provider of outsourcing services for companies that prefer to entrust such processes to a reliable and reputable contractor rather than handle them on their own. Currently, while Benchmark Electronics has its headquarters situated in the state of Arizona, it has operations situated in no fewer than eight countries, meaning that it can claim an international presence.

6. Leads a Very Decentralized Corporation

Williams has stated in an interview with the Motley Fool that he leads a very decentralized corporation. Furthermore, what is most interesting is that he says that the different components of this very decentralized corporation can have very different business models from one another. It isn’t difficult to think of ways that said setup could cause complications for a business, but based on the results, it seems safe to say that it has been working out well for National Oilwell Varco.

7. Sees the Setup As an Incubator for Great Leaders

In particular, it is interesting to note that Williams sees the decentralized nature of National Oilwell Varco as one of the reasons that the corporation has managed to produce a high number of capable leaders who have claimed prominent positions elsewhere in the oil and gas industry. The idea is that the decentralization means that the decision-makers at the various components have considerable leeway when it comes to their decisions, thus preparing them for independent leadership in a semi-controlled environment thanks to the backing of National Oilwell Varco as a whole.

8. Has Commented On the Importance of People For National Oilwell Varco

Besides the decentralization, Williams believes that the other factor responsible for turning out these capable leaders is National Oilwell Varco’s work culture. To be exact, he believes that his corporation’s focus on people is something that its decision-makers soak in while they are there. As a result, when they head elsewhere, they bring that attitude with them, which can be very useful for empowering not just the employees but also the people in charge of the employees to do their absolute best. This is important because while it is very common for companies to talk about how much they care about their employees, seeing those words translated into clear action is a rather rarer occurrence.

9. Believes that People On the Ground Are Better-Suited for Making Decisions

In line with National Oilwell Varco’s preference for decentralization, Williams has stated that he believes that the managers on the metaphorical ground are better-suited for making decisions than their superiors situated elsewhere because they are the ones with a much closer look and thus a much better understanding of the problems that must be tackled. With that said, it should be mentioned that this doesn’t mean that the top executives provide no oversight at all, seeing as how they are still very much involved in making sure that the junior tiers of management are held accountable the entire time.

10. Believes in the Need to Reassure Employees When Performing Mergers and Acquisitions

It is interesting to note that for Williams, the need to focus on people seems to extend to mergers and acquisitions as well. As he sees it, one of the major problems is that mergers and acquisitions are a scary prospect for the employees of the other company, which causes them to focus on their own priorities rather than how they can be of service to the clients. Due to this, a critical measure of a successful merger or acquisition is reassuring said individuals so as to minimize the disruptions brought about by the choice in the first place.


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